Why do we need calcium?

Calcium is an important mineral at every stage of life as it is required to help to form and build strong bones and teeth, blood clotting and regulating muscle contractions, including the heart.


How much calcium do we need?

Different ages require different levels of calcium:

  • 1-3 years = 350mg a day
  • 4-6 years = 450mg a day
  • 7-10 years = 550mg a day
  • 11-18 years (girls) = 800 mg a day
  • 11-18 years (boys) = 1000mg a day
  • 19+ years = 700mg

Calcium is also required in pregnancy as it is vital for a developing baby’s bones and teeth, as well as in the elderly to prevent conditions such as osteoporosis, so it important to ensure that the recommended daily dose is achieved.

A note on calcium absorption from plant sources

Although plenty of plant foods do contain calcium, it is important to remember that the absorption of calcium from plant sources is lower than from dairy or animal sources, due to the oxalic acid content in plants that reduces calcium’s bioavailability.

It is therefore important to look for calcium-fortified foods as part of a vegan diet to ensure you are achieving adequate amounts.

More like this

Vegan food sources of calcium

Plant-based milk alternatives


A 200ml portion of each milk alternative provides...

  • Unsweetened almond milk (calcium fortified) = 240mg
  • Soya milk (calcium fortified) = 240mg
  • Oat milk (calcium fortified) = 240mg
  • Coconut milk (calcium fortified) = 240mg

Plant-based yogurt alternatives

A 125g portion of each yogurt alternative provides...

  • Plain soya yoghurt (calcium fortified) = 150mg
  • Coconut yoghurt (calcium fortified) = 150mg

Green leafy vegetables


An 80g portion of each cooked green leafy veg provides...

  • Kale = 185mg
  • Spinach = 120mg
  • Purple sprouting broccoli = 88mg
  • Turnip greens/tops = 79g
  • Okra = 75mg
  • Mustard Greens = 64mg
  • Spring greens = 60mg
  • Pak choi = 58mg
  • Swiss Chard = 46mg
  • Broccoli = 35mg
  • Brussels sprouts = 21mg

Fresh fruit


An 80g portion of each fruit provides...

  • Kiwi = 26mg
  • Blackberries = 26mg
  • Rhubarb (cooked) = 26mg
  • Tangerines = 20mg
  • Oranges = 19mg
  • Pear = 6mg
  • Apple = 3mg

Dried fruit

A 30g serving of each dried fruit provides...

  • Figs = 75mg
  • Dates = 20mg
  • Raisins = 17mg

Beans and pulses


An 80g portion of each cooked bean or pulse provides...

  • Soya beans = 66mg
  • Chickpeas = 38mg
  • Aduki beans = 31mg
  • Kidney beans = 30mg
  • Broad beans = 28mg
  • Black-eyed beans = 17mg
  • Lentils = 17mg

Nuts and seeds

A 30g portion of nuts and seeds provides...

  • Sesame seeds = 201mg
  • Chia seeds = 189mg
  • Almonds, whole kernels = 81mg
  • Brazil nuts = 51mg
  • Sunflower seeds = 33mg
  • Walnuts = 28mg
  • Pumpkin seeds = 12mg
  • Pine nuts = 3mg

Bread products


An 80g portion (roughly two slices) of each bread provides...

  • Malted wheat bread = 167mg
  • Wheatgerm bread = 168mg
  • Naan bread = 150mg
  • Brown bread = 149mg
  • White bread = 124mg
  • Seeded bread = 120mg
  • White pitta bread = 110mg
  • Wholemeal bread = 85mg

Dried herbs

A 1 tsp serving of each dried herb provides...

  • Dried basil = 105mg
  • Dried marjoram = 100mg
  • Dried thyme = 95mg
  • Dried dill = 89mg
  • Celery seeds = 89mg
  • Dried mixed herbs = 83mg
  • Dried sage = 83mg
  • Dried oregano = 80mg

Other foods


A 100g serving of the following foods (on average, depending on the brand) provides...

  • Tofu (calcium fortified) = 350mg
  • Vegan sausages = 136mg
  • Tempeh = 120mg
  • Veggie burger = 100mg
  • Falafel = 80mg

The best calcium rich foods
What is osteoporosis and what affects bone density?
Am I at risk of calcium deficiency?
The best vegan protein sources
Health benefits of magnesium

This article was published on 10 August 2022.

Nicola Shubrook is a nutritional therapist and works with both private clients and the corporate sector. She is an accredited member of the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT) and the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). Find out more at urbanwellness.co.uk.


All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other healthcare professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local healthcare provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

Comments, questions and tips

Choose the type of message you'd like to post

Choose the type of message you'd like to post