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Calcium is a mineral that is necessary for life; it builds strong bones, helps blood clotting, is vital for transmitting messages through the nerves, and also in the release of certain hormones.

If we don’t get enough of this vital mineral through our diet then our body will leach it from our bones leaving them weak and vulnerable. Find out the top 9 plant sources of this essential mineral on this high calcium foods list.

 

PLANT BASED EATING

assorted fresh fruit heart shape

If you’re striving towards a more plant based way of living then you may very well be wondering how your’e going to get your calcium. Most of us have been conditioned to believe that we can only get calcium from dairy products, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt, but this is far from the truth.

In fact, it is so far from the truth that you probably won’t believe what I’m about to tell you, and that is that there are many plant foods that are actually HIGHER in calcium than dairy products.

Not only are these foods high in calcium, but they are also super healthy in other respects due to beinng higher in protein, fiber, antioxidants, phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals than most animal based foods. This makes the plant based diet, when done correctly with attention to what you are eating, a very healthy way of life.

 

Plant based and vegan diets aren’t necessarily healthy:

box of french fries

Attention to what you’re eating is the important part here, as your health could actually be worse off if you become a junk food vegan. It is crucial before embarking on any restrictive eating plan that you have an understanding of what your body needs and which foods you need to be eating to obtain it.

 

GETTING THE NUTRIENTS YOU NEED

On a plant based diet you need to make sure you get enough protein (which is actually way easier than you think), also adequate amounts of calcium, low GI carbohydrates, and a full spectrum of nutrients from fruits and vegetables.

Sounds hard, and like too much effort right? Well believe me, I thought the same thing when I started out on the plant based lifestyle, but the benefits have been so immense that I can’t even begin to describe in this post – clear skin, clear mind, vitality, and increased energy are the most prominent side effects I have noticed since cutting animal products from my diet.

 

Just learn the basics to begin with-

You don’t need to know everything right away – just the basics and the rest you will learn as you go along. It is so easy nowadays to live the plant based lifestyle, what with the internet being awash with vegan recipes; and our supermarkets have also followed suit by stocking plant milks, cheeses, frozen meals, coconut ice creams (yummy by the way), and loads of other goodies. 

Even fast food joints and restaurants are adding vegan menus, allowing you to eat out without being looked upon like an alien from outer space when you order your plate of vegetables. It’s literally never been easier to convert to this lifestyle than it is right now, and it’s only set to become an even bigger trend this year.

 

WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL WITH CALCIUM?

When you start eating plant based, or even if you have decided to cut out dairy for whatever reason (maybe you are dairy intolerant), then you will need to be mindful of getting enough calcium, and it really is best to get this from food rather than take supplements which just aren’t absorbed as readily

 

We MUST have calcium for strong bones!

human skeleton

Calcium is so important to health, because when we don’t get enough our bones get weaker and leave us more susceptible, not only to breakages, but the dreaded osteoporosis that affects 1 in 2 females and 1 in 4 males at some point in their lives. These odds do often have other factors involved, such as genetics, ethnicity, bone structure, body weight, certain diseases, and some medications, BUT getting enough calcium is a major player in stopping these!

Of course these risks can be negated by making sure that you eat a healthy diet that meets your calcium needs; you should also stay within a healthy weight range and keep your bones strong through weight bearing exercise. Get these down and you should be OK.

 

HOW MUCH CALCIUM DO I NEED?

CHILDREN – 1300MG PER DAY

WOMEN UNDER 50 – 1000MG PER DAY

WOMEN OVER 50 – 1,200MG PER DAY

MEN UNDER 70 – 1000MG PER DAY

MEN OVER 70 – 1,200 MG PER DAY

 

HIGH CALCIUM FOODS LIST – 9 PLANT BASED SOURCES

 1. TOFU

Tofu can be one of the best sources of calcium on a plant based diet due to the fact that most tofu is already fortified with it. You will need to check different brands to find one that contains good amounts, but some can offer up to 33% of your daily intake in just one cup.

 

Tofu is also extremely high in plant protein, and contains all 8 amino acids; plus iron, copper, zinc, B1, and the minerals manganese, magnesium, phosphorus and selenium. 

Soy products are estrogenic and can lead to hormone disruptions in both men and women if eaten in large quantities, so you should stick with just a couple of servings a week

 

2. BLACK EYED PEAS

dried black eyed peas

CALCIUM CONTENT – 1 cup (canned) 370MG 38% of your daily intake.

Beans all contain calcium, but the highest by far are black eyed peas, which can easily be added to stews, soups, and salads. They also contain good amounts of B vitamins, iron, magnesium, and vitamins A, D and C, and you can buy them canned for ease of use.

 

3. KALE AND SWISS CHARD

CALCIUM CONTENT – 1 cup (cooked) 197MG 19.7% of your daily intake.

Kale and Swiss chard are the highest calcium of all the vegetables; they also contain fiber, phytonutrients, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and vitamins C, E and A.

These greens are known super foods due to their superior nutritional profile and should be eaten only lightly cooked or steamed to retain their nutrients. I like to saute mine quickly with some coconut oil (fat helps the absorption of many of kale’s nutrients), I also add some garlic, chili, and lemon juice.

 

4. SESAME SEEDS

bowl of sesame seeds

CALCIUM CONTENT – 1 tablespoon 140MG 14% of your daily intake.

Sesame seeds hold the highest calcium content of all the seeds (but the others are also good) and 1 tablespoon contains the same amount of calcium as half a cup of milk. You can easily eat these seeds in the form of tahini, which can be added to many meals, or use the seeds as a topping sprinkle for cereal. 

Sesame seeds are best eaten ground up into a powder, OR chewed really well as your stomach won’t be able to break them down very easily.

 

5. BUTTERNUT SQUASH

CALCIUM CONTENT – 1 cup 84MG 8.4% of your daily intake.

Not only is butternut squash high in calcium, but it also contains carotonoids, which are great for the prevention of heart disease, arthritis and asthma.

It is also a magnificant source of nerve soothing vitamin B6, potassium, folate, panothenic acid, and manganese – making it a vegetable you should consume regularly on your plant based diet.

 

6. ALMONDS

raw shelled almonds

CALCIUM CONTENT- 23 nuts (large handful) 76MG – 7.6% of your daily intake.

Almonds are delicious and full of protein and nutrients, calcium being one of them. Plus they are an easy and transportable snack that can be popped into your handbag and taken anywhere. Perfect for those times when you’re tempted to snack on unhealthy fast foods!

They are choc full of fiber and their skins are said to contain over 20 different antioxidant flavenoids – all of which are good for anti aging. They also contain vitamin E, magnesium, riboflavin, and potassium to boot.

 

7. ORANGES

CALCIUM CONTENT – 1 large orange 75MG – 7% of your daily intake.

Well who knew it? This was even a new one on me! Oranges contain a really high amount of calcium; plus they are delicious, and like almonds easily transportable. They also contain what they are most famous for – vitamin C; along with potassium, B-vitamins, vitamin A, and magnesium.

Oranges are also great for rehydrating and refueling sugars after a workout.

 

8. SWEET POTATO

basket of sweet potatoes

CALCIUM CONTENT – 1 large potato 68MG – 7% of your daily intake.

I just love sweet potato wedges baked in the oven with coconut oil and spices like garlic, paprika, and chili flakes. In fact they are just so versatile and can be incorporated into any meal, and they’re healthier and lower GI than your average white spud. Low glycemic foods keep blood sugar stable and weight under control.

As with all orange coloured fruits and vegetables sweet potato is high in beta-carotene which is converted into vitamin A in the body. Sweet potatoes are another super food because of their superior nutrient content; they are also high in vitamin C, B6, and magnesium.

 

9. BROCCOLI

CALCIUM CONTENT 1 cup 62MG – 6% of your daily intake.

Another one of natures super foods broccoli is not only high in vitamin A, but also contains a compound that has the ability to work on a genetic level to ‘switch off’ cancer genes AND to hinder the progression of cancer. Now if that’s not a super food then I don’t know what is!

It is one of the highest protein vegetables and also contains lots of vitamin C, B6 and vitamin A.

 

10. FIGS

fresh who;e figs

CALCIUM CONTENT – per 3 figs – 52MG – 5% of your daily intake.

Figs, both raw and dried, also contain magnesium, manganese, copper, potassium, B6,and vitamin K, so they really are a fantastic addition to any healthy diet plan. They are delicious fresh when in season but equally as good when dried as they go all sweet and chewy.

Add them chopped to salads; or bake fresh figs with a little honey for the ultimate sweet treat. Great with coconut yogurt for breakfast or dessert.

 

Check out this YouTube video for a yummy way to get your calcium in a homemade chocolate treat.

 

 

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Stefanie Taylor

I have studied nutrition for many years, and have since discovered that a plant based diet has been the most beneficial to my health and body. I have more energy and zest for life than I have ever had and this website is dedicated to helping others who wish to know more, and start out on this lifestyle.

20 Comments

John Rico · 01/02/2018 at 4:55 am

Hello there! My mom just went to the doctor and I was with her. The doctor said that she should take high calcium food to help her with with her bones because she’s getting older now. My mom doesn’t drink milk anymore and now I want to help her to provide the needed calcium she needs to intake. Luckily, I found and read your article which is very informative and helpful. MY mom will love this information of foods that are high in calcium. I will surely share this to her. Thank you for sharing this information.

    Stefanie Taylor · 01/02/2018 at 7:17 pm

    Hi John, well that’s just great that you came across this article then! Yes, calcium is especially important as people get older to help stop osteoporosis and fractures etc. And getting calcium from food sources rather than tablets is way more effective. If she does decide to go for supplements then you have to be really careful what you buy as some of it isn’t absorbable and can even actually be bad for you. It’s best to find out from a trained medical herbalist what would be the best to take.

    I know this because I work with a herbalist and I often hear her saying to people the certain calcium supplements they are taking are bad (usually these are the ones prescribed by doctors or cheaper brands).

    Also, another crucial ting for strong bones is weight bearing/resistance exercise such as gym work, weights, power walking and swimming among others. Hope this helps and good luck to your mum.

Daniella · 01/02/2018 at 8:23 am

Hi Stefanie,

Great article!

Thank you for this useful food list! I knew there were very healthy but what I didn’t know is that they contain a high amount of calcium. That’s exactly what I needed!
I’ve heard somewhere that tofu is healthy, but when eating it in large quantity, it can become dangerous. Have you already heard about this?
I am 40 plus now, and you know that the more we get older, the more we need calcium:). So my question is, will my body receive all the calcium required by eating these foods or should I take some supplements too?

Thank you very much for this excellent post!

    Stefanie Taylor · 01/02/2018 at 4:38 pm

    Hi Danielle, yes tofu is healthy, and full of calcium if you buy the fortified versions which most of them are, but you need to check labels to be sure. And Yes, soya can be bad if you have hormonal problems as it’s estrogenic and so can mimic estrogen in the body causing distruptions. I am in your age group and notice if I have to much soy it messes with my periods…I can however have a little, say a couple of portions a week and it doesn’t affect me. 

    As for calcium supplements, I much prefer to try and get my calcium from food sources where possible because it is much more readily absorbed by the body. Also, I have read that calcium supplements aren’t actually that good for you long term. 

Norman · 01/02/2018 at 1:18 pm

Hello and thanks for sharing your post that is well detailed and has a ton of great information. Calcium is so important because this is one of the building blocks that the body needs in order to function well.
it is good to know that we can get this vitamin in natural ways from the foods that we eat.

    Stefanie Taylor · 01/02/2018 at 2:54 pm

    Hi Norman, yes getting enough calcium is crucial, and something I am very aware of now I have turned to a plant based lifestyle. I want my bones to live into old age that’s for sure!

Kevin McNamara · 01/02/2018 at 10:31 pm

Hi Stefanie,

Great post. I have been on a plant based diet for a couple of years now (Still trying to wean myself off fish though! haha) and eat most of the above. I love my almonds, kale, pumpkin, sweet potatoes. I often get asked how do I get calcium if I don’t eat dairy.

I am going to bookmark your site and share this post with as many people as I can. It answers the calcium debate beautifully! Thanks for a brilliant post.

Kev

    Stefanie Taylor · 02/02/2018 at 11:29 am

    Hi Kevin, thank you so much, I really appreciate you saying those things and you have made my day. Yes, I too have problems with people asking me where I get my calcium if I don’t eat dairy, and it always amuses me as I’m always so much healthier than them as I never get sick! Ha ha. Next time somebody asks you that you should point out all the many countries and cultures who don’t eat dairy at all and are in fact all lactose intolerant, but are healthier and have way less disease than our society. There’s obviously a link there.

    It’s great you eat so well, I don’t think you should beat yourself up about the fish as it does offer health benefits. In fact, I watched a television programme not long ago about one of the longest living cultures in the world from some island near Japan and they just lived on fish, fruit, and vegetables. Their average age was 120 years or something like that.

    It just shows how much of out lifespan the average Western diet is taking away from us. Still…we are starting to learn.

sarah · 01/02/2018 at 10:37 pm

Great article, when we talk about high calcium, only dairy products came into our minds but that is not true and you have mentioned it so so nicely. Even citrus juices can help us building good calcium stores for stronger bones. Great article, very informative and useful.

    Stefanie Taylor · 02/02/2018 at 11:20 am

    Yes, you’re right about citrus juices being high in calcium. Even I was shocked about how much calcium is in an Orange! I am now going to make a special effort to eat one every day to boost my supply. I do prefer to eat the whole fruit rather than juices as you could easily way 10 oranges in one glass of juice and that is just an unnatural among of fructose to be putting in your body in one hit.

    They actually say that fruit juices are just as bad as soft drinks when it comes to the blood sugar spike they give you. It doesn’t matter if they are healthier in other ways they still give you a huge insulin response which in the long term can promote obesity, diabetes and all the other nasty things that come along with that. So my advice, stick to the whole fruit just like mother nature intended and you can’t go wrong.

Philip, · 01/02/2018 at 11:13 pm

Hi Stephanie,

Hold on, you telling me sweet potatoes contain more calcium than milk? I did not even know any of the foods you listed contained any calcium lol. I thought calcium was just contained in things like milk and cheese etc.

Well, I eat those potatoes, kale and beans – but I will be hunting for a few more of those foods to incorporate into interesting and healthy meals. Thank you very much as I am trying to find an affordable and healthy shopping list for the week and seen your post.

I will be back for more Stephanie and thanks again.

Regards,

Philip.

    Stefanie Taylor · 02/02/2018 at 10:47 am

    Hi Philip, yes so many people think they can only get calcium from dairy products but it’s just not true. In fact there are whole countries and cultures that don’t consume dairy and they are perfectly healthy if not healthier than our culture. Go figure hey lol.

    To be honest, I didn’t realise this about calcium myself until I started on a plant based diet and started studying it in depth. As for the sweet potatoes, I’m not sure if they are as high as milk, I would have to go back and check as I did say ‘some of these’ are higher than milk. But the first half of the list definitely are. And I’m sure the sweet potatoes would be close anyway.

    The thing is, I have read from quite a few different sources now that as dairy products are mostly acid forming, they actually leach more calcium out of our bones to process the calcium in the dairy but I don’t know how true this is. But it does actually makes sense when you think about how our high animal/dairy based culture is one of the unhealthiest in the world. And we get higher incidence of osteoporosis etc. Food for thought Hey, which is why I get mine from the plants now.

Shelli Thomas · 01/02/2018 at 11:25 pm

I certainly would not have thought of Black Eyed Peas having the most calcium of any plant based food! And I’ve been teaching health and nutrition classes for over 25 years! That’s just so fantastic to know. I love this list, and that you mentioned the percentage of daily amount of calcium that each provide. Thank you so much for putting this together for us. It is truly a wonderful resource to have!

    Stefanie Taylor · 02/02/2018 at 10:37 am

    Hi Shelley, that’s great you teach nutrition, you are a woman after my own heart! I know, there are so many great calcium foods out there that are completely animal free. I have researched this field a lot more thoroughly now I have turned to the plant based way of eating because I wanted to make sure that I got all the right nutrition. I have seen a few people go vegan and make themselves sick because they had no idea what they were doing and did no research. I definitely didn’t want to make that mistake.

    Luckily, I have just felt fantastic the whole year that I’ve been doing this, and I haven’t been sick once, so I take this as evidence that all is well.
    Thanks for reading and I’m glad you learnt something new.

Marko Starcevic · 02/02/2018 at 12:48 am

Are there some more nutrition foods like this to help you with this calcium problem? What about fruits and meat and cerals? And one suggestion – remove this CAPTCHA thing!

    Stefanie Taylor · 02/02/2018 at 10:31 am

    Hi Marko, yes loads of other foods contain calcium but I was just doing the top 9 plant sources. Many of the other nuts and seeds not mentioned all have calcium and also many other vegetables, especially the green leafy kind. As far as I’m aware meat doesn’t as all the calcium in an animal would have been stored in its bones.

    As for this CAPTCHA thing I have no idea what you mean. I’m pretty new to this but I will definitely find out! Thanks.

penelope · 03/02/2018 at 12:56 am

Mmmm sesame and sweet potatoes, two of my absolute favorite things.
My grandmother had to take a calcium supplement, it was liquid and disgusting, a thick white liquid she had to take by the spoonful. I wonder if that’s still a thing…and I wonder if her needs could have been met simply with more kale and tofu!

    Stefanie Taylor · 03/02/2018 at 9:36 am

    Yes, I think they gave that liquid out to quite a few people, my mum was given these big white horse pill tablets to take. Thing is, calcium supplements don’t absorb too well so could of been a waste of time. Not that I’m telling anybody they should stop taking them, just be sure to get what you need from foods sources as at least you know it’s absorbed.

sarah · 08/04/2018 at 6:02 pm

Oh my God, such an amazing post you have shared. We all know that mostly milk and dairy products are the calcium rich foods, I didn’t know that squash, broccoli and tofu are that rich in calcium. I am going to include these in my regular meal plans from now onwards. I am your regular reader and always love to read your articles. Looking forward for more articles from you. Great Work.

    Stefanie Taylor · 08/04/2018 at 8:33 pm

    Yes, not many people know that there are so many great plant sources of calcium, they mostly just presume it comes from animal products. I much prefer the plant sources now I am into plant based eating and it is also way more important to eat these foods if you don’t eat dairy products. Either way, most of the foods on that list are also super healthy and have lots of other great nutrients and benefits so you get the best of both worlds.

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