Health & Nutrition

How to Get Enough Calcium on a Vegan Diet

12 plant-based sources of calcium (and other important nutrients)

Calcium is critical for strong bones, and other vital functions in your body—and it’s harder to get on a vegan diet. The good news: with a little planning, you can meet all your daily calcium needs with whole, unprocessed foods. Plus, research suggests calcium absorption from plant sources is comparable to that from cow’s milk, nutrients found in plants benefit bones, and a carefully selected vegan diet doesn’t increase osteoporosis risk. And plant foods are rich in other nutrients like magnesium, vitamin K, copper, zinc, protein, fiber, antioxidants and other nutrients, all of which play an important role in preventing osteoporosis.

You don’t have to drink milk; keep bones strong with these 12 plant-based foods:

1. Collard greens

One cup cooked = 266 mg

Daily value: 27%

Milk calcium equivalent: about 3/4 cup*

Other bone-building nutrients: magnesium, vitamin K, fiber, vitamin C, beta-carotene and other antioxidants.

2. Tofu

One-half cup = 250 to 400 mg

Daily value: 25–40%

Milk calcium equivalent: 3/4 to 1 cup*

Other bone-building nutrients: protein, magnesium, copper, zinc.

Note: firm and extra-firm varieties, made with calcium sulfate, have the highest calcium content.

3. Spinach

One cup cooked = 245 mg

Daily value: 24%

Milk calcium equivalent: about 3/4 cup*

Other bone-building nutrients: magnesium, vitamin K, vitamin C, beta-carotene and other antioxidants.

Related: The Well-Stocked Vegan Pantry

4. Chia seeds

Two tablespoons = 177 mg

Daily value: 18%

Milk calcium equivalent: about 1/2 cup*

Other bone-building nutrients: magnesium, copper, zinc, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids.

5. Bok choy

One cup cooked = 158 mg

Daily value: 15%

Milk calcium equivalent: about 1/2 cup*

Other bone-building nutrients: magnesium, vitamin K, fiber, vitamin C and other antioxidants.

Note: Because it’s a cruciferous vegetable, bok choy is also rich in cancer-preventive compounds.

6. White beans

One cup cooked = 131 mg

Daily value: 13%

Milk calcium equivalent: about 1/3 cup*

Other bone-building nutrients: magnesium, zinc, copper, fiber, protein

Related: Nutrition Face-Off: Raw vs. Cooked Spinach

7. Tahini

Two tablespoons = 126 mg

Daily value: 13%

Milk calcium equivalent: about 1/3 cup*

Biggest benefits: magnesium, zinc, copper, fiber. Note: look for raw, unsalted varieties, with no added oil

8. Navy beans

One cup cooked = 126 mg

Daily value: 13%

Milk calcium equivalent: about 1/3 cup*

Other bone-building nutrients: magnesium, zinc, copper, fiber, protein

9. Amaranth

One cup cooked = 116 mg

Daily value: 12%

Milk calcium equivalent: about 1/3 cup*

Other bone-building nutrients: magnesium, zinc, copper, fiber, protein

Related: 5 Habits of the Healthiest Vegans

10. Edamame

One cup cooked = 98 mg

Daily value: 10%

Milk calcium equivalent: about 1/4 cup*

Other bone-building nutrients: protein, magnesium, copper, zinc

11. Almond butter

One ounce (about 22 nuts) = 86 mg

Daily value: 8%

Milk calcium equivalent: about 1/4 cup*

Other bone-building nutrients: magnesium, protein, copper.

Note: Look for raw, unsalted varieties, with no added oil.

12. Blackstrap molasses

Two tablespoons = 82 mg

Daily value: 8%

Milk calcium equivalent: about 1/4 cup*

Other bone-building nutrients: magnesium, copper, zinc.

Note: Because it’s high in sugar, use blackstrap molasses as a substitute for other sweeteners, to avoid overdoing your daily sugar grams.


* Based on the calcium content of 352 mg in one cup 2% milk