Overview and Recommendations

  1. Calcium for health. In addition to its important role in bone health, calcium is required for vascular, muscle, and nerve function.
  2. Calcium intakes for vegetarians. Evidence indicates that the calcium intake of vegetarians, who often rely on dairy products as a main food source, is similar or even higher than non-vegetarians. Thus, calcium intake may not be an issue.
  3. Calcium intakes for vegans. Calcium intakes of vegans, who avoid dairy products, tends to be lower and possibly below recommended intakes. Some studies indicate that vegans may have a higher risk of bone fracture, although more research needs to occur in this area.
  4. Meeting calcium needs for vegans. Vegans can replace dairy servings with other calcium-rich foods and beverages, such as calcium-fortified plant milks, fortified juices, tofu made with calcium sulfate, and calcium-rich vegetables. However, it’s important to note that spinach and Swiss chard may be poor sources of calcium intake due to poor absorption caused by high oxalate content. Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and kale, are sources of calcium that are highly absorbable.
  5. When to take a calcium supplement. Calcium supplements may be an option for people who have a hard time meeting their calcium needs. Aim for supplementation at levels needed only to fill the nutrient gap, as some evidence links over-supplementation with health concerns. Discuss all supplements with your healthcare provider.

Tips to Meet Your Needs

  1. Aim for two to three daily servings of calcium-rich foods, such as plant-based fortified milk, tofu, and orange juice (check the nutrition label for calcium); and green leafy vegetables, almonds and broccoli. If you’re vegetarian, dairy products such as cottage cheese, yogurt, cheese, and milk are calcium-rich options.
  2. Consider taking a calcium supplement, if you’re not able to meet these daily servings. Take a supplement at levels that fills your daily gap. For example, if you only consume one serving of calcium-rich foods per day, you may want to take a calcium supplement that meets 50% of the RDA.

Calcium RDA

Life Stage Group Calcium (mg)
0 to 6 months
6 to 12 months

1 to 3 years
4 to 8 years

9 to 18 years
19 to 70 years

9 to 18 years
18 to 50 years

14 to 18 years
19 to 50 year

14 to 18 years
19 to 50 years


RDA, Dietary Reference Intakes, Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, National Academies

Vegan Calcium Food Sources

Food Serving Calcium (mg)
Ready-to-eat cereal, fortified with calcium ¾–1 cup 100 — 1000*
Almond milk, fortified with calcium 1 cup 450*
Soy yogurt, fortified with calcium 1 cup 450*
Soymilk, original, fortified with calcium ½ cup 300–500*
Tofu, regular, processed with calcium 1 cup 434*
Orange juice, fortified with calcium 1 cup 349*
Black strap molasses 2 tablespoons 230
Almond yogurt, fortified with calcium 170 grams 200*
Tempeh 1 cup 184
Tahini 2 tablespoons 128
Almond butter 2 tablespoons 111
Turnip greens, raw 1 cup 104
Kale, raw 1 cup 100
Edamame, frozen, prepared 1 cup 98
Almonds ¼ cup 94
Figs 5 medium 88
Garbanzo beans, cooked 1 cup 80
Pinto beans, cooked 1 cup 79
Bok choy, raw 1 cup 74
Mustard greens, raw 1 cup 64
Black beans, cooked 1 cup 46
Broccoli, raw 1 cup 43
Corn tortillas 2 each 39


Vegetarian Calcium Food Sources

Food Serving Calcium (mg)
Milk, low-fat 1 cup 305
Yogurt, non-fat 6 ounces 258
Cheese, Swiss 1 ounce 224
Cottage cheese, low-fat ¾ cup 103
Ice cream, vanilla ½ cup 84
Chocolate pudding, refrigerated 4 ounces 55
Cream cheese 2 tablespoons 28
*May vary depending on product
All nutritional information from USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference or food manufacturer labeling.
Courtesy of Sharon Palmer, RD, The Plant-Powered Dietitian™



Vegetarian Calcium Food Sources
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