But what about the calcium? Going dairy free doesn’t mean that you will lack calcium. In fact, these plant based calcium sources are even more beneficial than dairy based calcium sources!
No matter what, when you go dairy free or even begin to start talking about being dairy free, people (maybe even yourself) will ask you where you’ll get calcium. Not for nothing, many people simply don’t know that calcium exists outside of dairy. There are, in fact, dozens of foods high in calcium.
That’s due to the fact that for years we have been told that without milk, dairy milk specifically, our bones will be fragile and continue to break. In order to prevent osteoporosis, we must consume more milk. Unfortunately, the dairy industry for decades has paid for the government to make these assertions.
How much calcium do I need?
The current recommended amount of calcium is between 1,000 to 1,200mg for adults. Higher for pregnant and lactating mothers and teens. However, some health experts believe this number is high. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (1) found that when calcium comes from plant sources, individuals may only need 500-741mg per day.
Why would you need less calcium if you are getting it from plant sources? This same study showed that diets high in animal proteins excretes calcium at a higher rate. That means you need more calcium to make up for the loss.
The important thing about getting calcium from plant based sources is that the absorption rate is much higher. For example, in dairy milk, our bodies can only absorb about 31% of the calcium; however, in bok choy, kale or broccoli, the absorption rate is 50-60%(2).
Almost half of the bone density we build happens during our teenage years, which is why we need more during those years. Then, in our mid-thirties, we slowly start to experience bone loss. Also why post menopausal women are expected to need higher levels of calcium.
Plant Based Calcium Sources
-Collard Greens (cooked)
-Oatmeal (fortified and cooked)
390mg per cup
357mg per cup
294mg per cup
250mg per cup
250mg per cup
210mg per cup
200mg per tbsp
187mg per cup
180mg per cup
178mg per cup
158mg per cup
135mg per cup
130mg per 2 tbsp
125mg per cup
120mg per 1/2 cup
115mg per medium bulb
95mg per cup
94mg per 1/4 cup
90mg per tbsp
90mg per tbsp
84mg per cup
55mg for 1 medium size
50mg per orange
35mg per 1/2 cup
26mg per tbsp
What’s an example of how to get the recommended dosage?
- For breakfast: Enjoy 8oz of a fortified plant based milk
- For lunch: Kale Salad with 2 cups of kale, 1/2 cup black beans, 1 tablespoon chia seeds served with a citrus vinaigrette dressing
- As a snack: Have 1/4 cup unsalted almonds
- With dinner: 1 cup roasted roasted butternut squash
This is just an example of how you can get in the recommended dosage without much effort. These four easy things adds up to 1,100mg of calcium and that isn’t including what else you eat for breakfast or have for dinner alongside the recommendations. This is also double the amount that plant based nutritionists believe you may need.
How do I remember what are the best plant based calcium sources?
Don’t worry! We have you covered. We’ve made a handy printable so you can put up on your fridge or keep it with other dietary information. You can easily print out this plant based calcium sources resource sheet.
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