Non- Dairy Alternatives To Calcium

If you're vegan, lactose intolerant, or do not prefer milk products, how do you get your calcium? Here are ten ways to increase your daily dose with non-dairy foods high in calcium.

By URLife Team
28 Dec 2023

Calcium is the largest mineral in the body. According to a 2023 study conducted by Harvard University and published in the journal School of Public Health, almost 99 per cent of the bones and teeth store calcium and the remaining 1 per cent is found in blood, muscles, and other tissues. Adults from the age 19-50 years need 1000 milligrams of calcium a day, as per the 2023 guidelines by the National Institute of Health.


Get instant access to personalised nutrition advice just for you. Sign up here.


What happens if you do not take sufficient calcium? Insufficient calcium intake can lead to various health issues, primarily affecting bone health. Maintaining an adequate intake of calcium through a balanced diet or supplements when necessary is crucial to support bone health, muscle function, and overall well-being.


Here are some potential consequences of not getting enough calcium:

  • Bone Weakness and Osteoporosis: Calcium is crucial for building and maintaining strong bones. Inadequate intake over time can lead to weakened bones, increasing the risk of fractures and a condition called osteoporosis, characterised by brittle and porous bones.
  • Increased Risk of Osteopenia: Insufficient calcium can lead to a condition of osteoporosis called osteopenia, where bone density decreases but isn't as severe as osteoporosis.
  • Potential Dental Problems: Calcium is essential for dental health too. Inadequate calcium intake might affect tooth development in children and increase the risk of tooth decay and gum disease in people of all ages.
  • Muscle Function Impairment: Calcium plays a role in muscle contraction. A lack of calcium might result in muscle cramps, spasms, or weakness.
  • Higher Blood Pressure: Some research suggests that inadequate calcium intake might contribute to higher blood pressure levels.


Being found in large percentages, calcium is not easily absorbed by the gut. The calcium availability, the amount which is actually absorbed and used by the body of dairy foods is 30 per cent. Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yoghurt are primary sources of calcium crucial for bone and tooth structure. Calcium's role extends to vital bodily functions like nerve transmission, muscle contractions (including the heart), and regulating blood pressure.


Related story: 7 Ways To Get Enough Calcium When You’re A Vegan


10 Non-Dairy Foods High In Calcium

Adequate calcium intake is essential for optimal bodily function and is best obtained through dietary sources. Some people are lactose intolerant or vegan, due to which they are not getting enough calcium into their daily diets. While dairy stands as a major calcium source, there are non-dairy options rich in calcium.


Here are a few alternatives:

1. Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are small, nutrient-dense seeds. These seeds are loaded with fibre, omega-3 fatty acids, protein, antioxidants, and various vitamins and minerals like calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium. Chia seeds provide essential nutrients crucial for bone health, such as magnesium and phosphorus. According to a 2023 report issued in the journal Health & Diet Guide, in just 2 tablespoons, chia seeds offer 18 per cent of your daily recommended calcium intake, essential for maintaining strong bones, muscles, and nerve function. Interestingly, when measured by weight, chia seeds boast a higher calcium content than dairy products.


Related story: 5 Chia Seeds Benefits That Make Them A Nutritional Powerhouse


2. Soy Milk

While calcium is often associated with dairy products like cheese and yoghurt, plant-based options are equally rich in this mineral. Fortified soy milk, for instance, provides a comparable amount of calcium to cow's milk, and it offers additional benefits—it's a notable source of vitamin D and protein as well. This makes it a strong alternative for those seeking non-dairy sources of essential nutrients like calcium. 1 cup of soy milk contains 109 calories and 5 grams of total fat.


Related story: Is Plant-based Milk Good For You?


3. Almonds

Almond milk typically lacks significant natural calcium content due to its preparation process, where almonds are blended with water and strained to remove pulp. Raw almonds themselves, however, contain a substantial amount of calcium, offering 264 mg per 100 grams (equivalent to approximately 75 almonds). 100 g of raw almonds (about 75 almonds) provides 264 mg of calcium. As per 2020 statistics in the Food Data by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), almond butter, on the other hand, has about 347 mg per 100 g of calcium.


4. Dried Figs

Dried figs are renowned for their abundant fibre content, often favoured by those aiming to support digestive regularity. Beyond aiding digestion, they serve as a nutritious alternative to less healthy treats like chocolate, offering a satisfying, fruity option to curb afternoon hunger. Figs boast a rich supply of both calcium and potassium, minerals that collaborate to enhance bone density. This synergy contributes to fortifying bones and potentially preventing conditions such as osteoporosis.


Related story: The Beginner’s Guide To Nut Butters And Nut Milk


5. Tofu

Tofu is made from soybeans and water to create soy milk, and a coagulant to solidify the soy milk into tofu. Calcium sulphate commonly serves as the coagulant in this process, enabling the transformation of soy milk into a solid form. According to a 2023 study by Cleveland Clinic, tofu isn't just a protein source; it's also packed with calcium and magnesium. These minerals play pivotal roles in fortifying and sustaining robust bones. Consuming foods rich in calcium and magnesium can potentially stave off bone loss and conditions like osteoporosis.


6. Broccoli

Broccoli is quite the powerhouse! It's surprising to note that this cruciferous vegetable packs nearly twice the amount of vitamin C found in an orange. As per 2019 statistics in the Food Data by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), 100 g of broccoli provides 47 mg of calcium.


7. Kale

Kale is a nutrient-rich leafy green that's also a fantastic source of calcium. In 1 cup of raw kale, there are approximately 53 milligrams of calcium. veganThis nutrient-packed green is not only versatile but also contributes to meeting your calcium intake needs.


8. Oranges

According to a 2022 report issued in Health Journal, a large orange carries around 65 milligrams of calcium, while a cup of orange juice provides about 13 milligrams. Beyond their famed immune-boosting vitamin C, oranges offer low-calorie nutrition and are rich in antioxidants. These antioxidants deliver a range of benefits, from anti-inflammatory effects to antiviral and antimicrobial properties, contributing to overall health and well-being.


9. Okra

Okra or lady's fingers is a green vegetable that offers a modest amount of calcium. In about 1 cup of cooked okra, you can find roughly 82 milligrams of calcium. This vegetable, known for its versatility in various cuisines, contributes to your calcium intake while providing other essential nutrients as well.


10. Spinach

Spinach, a highly nutritious leafy green, packs approximately 250 mg of calcium per cup. Versatile in salads, curries, or even as a base for a comforting spinach soup, it can effortlessly elevate various dishes. Incorporating spinach into your regular meals provides a substantial calcium boost, contributing to your daily nutrient intake.


Related story: The A-Z of Indian Superfoods: Spinach


Calcium stands as a crucial mineral readily available through a balanced diet. Incorporating 2 to 3 servings of plant-based calcium sources daily serves as an attainable goal to ensure adequate intake. However, individuals unable to meet this requirement through diet alone, can find out their calcium levels by taking diagnostic tests through UR.Life.


Get instant access to personalised nutrition advice just for you. Sign up here.



Follow Us On Instagram