Planning a diet that gets you enough calcium may seem harder if you are a vegan. Many people get their calcium by drinking milk or eating yogurt, but vegans don’t consume any animal products, including dairy.
You don’t have to drink milk to get enough calcium, and you may not have to take supplements. Calcium from plant sources may even be better for you than calcium from milk or other animal products, since animal proteins leach calcium from your bones. You just have to be sure to eat enough fruits, vegetables, and other plants containing the calcium your body needs.
Why You Need Calcium
Calcium is essential to your health in a number of ways.
One of its main jobs is to strengthen your bones and teeth. When your bones go through the natural process of breaking down, calcium helps build up new bone. Bone growth is especially important when your body is going through growth spurts.
Calcium is involved in many other bodily functions, including:
- Transmitting nerve signals
- Releasing hormones
- Contracting muscles
- Helping blood vessel function
- Clotting blood
Because your body cannot produce its own calcium, you must get it from foods or supplements.
The amount of calcium you need depends on your age, but women age 50 and younger and men ages 70 and younger both need about 1,000 milligrams daily.
Plant-Based Foods With Calcium
Because dairy is one of the most common sources of calcium, people who are lactose intolerant or vegan may not get all the calcium their bodies need.
Fortunately, there are many plant-based food sources that can help you reach your recommended daily value of calcium without consuming any animal products.
Here are eight foods high in calcium for vegans:
Dried figs make for a healthy, sweet, and calcium-dense snack. Two figs contain about 27 milligrams of calcium.
As a natural sweetener, this fruit is also a healthier alternative to refined sugars.
Foods made from soybeans are all great sources of calcium. Some soy products include:
Soybeans are a staple in plant-based diets because they are the main ingredient in numerous nutritious vegan foods.
4. Bok Choy
Bok choy — also called white cabbage, Chinese cabbage, or pak-choi — contains 105 milligrams of calcium for every 100 grams.
Bok choy is also packed with vitamin A and vitamin C, with one cup of the leafy green providing more than 100% of the recommended dietary allowance of vitamin A and almost two-thirds of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C.
Broccoli is one of the healthiest vegetables out there. 100 grams of raw broccoli contains 46 milligrams of calcium, while the same amount of cooked broccoli contains slightly less (40 milligrams).
One whole orange has around 55 milligrams of calcium, making it one of the most calcium-rich fruits there is.
For an additional mineral boost, you can pick up calcium-fortified orange juice at the grocery store.
Two tablespoons of chia seeds contain 14% of your recommended daily value of calcium.
8. Winged Beans
Winged beans, which are also called Goa beans, grow in humid tropical countries. A 44-gram serving of winged beans gives you more than 4% of your recommended daily value of calcium.