So, you decided to cut out milk. Is calcium fortified plant milk a good way to get calcium?
Which ones are the highest? And are they actually healthy?
Keep reading, because I give my take as dietitian and plant based milk drinker!
Disclaimer: This post is not a substitute for medical or dietary advice. Talk to your doctor before starting new supplements or making major dietary changes. See our Disclaimers for more details.
What Are Calcium Fortified Plant Milks?
Calcium fortified plant milk is non-dairy milk (aka: not from a cow or goat) that that has calcium added to it.
Calcium is typically added via calcium carbonate. Sometimes tricalcium phosphate also contributes calcium. You can find out how calcium was added by reading the ingredients list and looking for additives with the word: “calcium.”
Popular types of fortified plant milks include:
- soy milk
- almond milk
- oat milk
- cashew milk
- coconut milk
- rice milk
- flax milk
Is Calcium Carbonate Vegan?
Calcium fortified plant milks likely use vegan calcium carbonate- especially if the label has words like “vegan” or “100% plant based.” Of course, reach out to the company if you have questions.
Is the Calcium in Plant Milk Fortified with Calcium Well Absorbed?
Plant Based Milk With the Most Calcium
In the US, an excellent source of a nutrient is defined as 20% of the daily value or more for a nutrient. While we don’t know which plant milk provides the most calcium, this list includes plant milks that can be an excellent source of calcium.
In the US, the daily value (DV) is based on 1300 milligrams of calcium per day for individuals aged 4 years old and up (4).
This list does not contain every single plant based milk (I have tried to include some of the more “well known” US brands). There may be brands that have the same, higher, or lower amounts of calcium. Since ingredients/formulations may change, please check the product recent nutrient info.
1. Kirkland Unsweetened Almond Milk
- Calcium Content Per Serving: 600 milligrams (mg) (45% DV)
Kirkland (Costco’s brand) takes the number one spot a whopping amount of calcium! I have not seen any other plant milks that have more calcium per a 1 cup serving.
What does it taste like? The ones that I’ve tried do taste a bit watery and chalky. I prefer the flavor of other brands when it comes to almond milk.
2. Silk Original and Unsweetened Almond Milk
- Calcium Content Per Serving: Unsweetened and Original Almond Milk and almond & coconut blend: 470 mg (35% DV)
Not only are they fortified calcium power houses, but they also provide a few other nutrients like vitamin E and D.
3. Almond Breeze Almond Milks
- Calcium Content Per Serving: 450 mg (35% DV)
Like Silk, Almond Breeze has been around for awhile! Some sources suggest it is the leading brand for sales of almond milk in the US (5)
4. Ripple Plant-Based Milk
- Calcium Content Per Serving: 440 milligrams (35% DV)
Ripple is pea based which contributes a notable amount of protein at about 8 grams per cup! That’s similar to cows milk.
FYI: Their Half and Half options only contain about 6 milligrams of calcium per serving- so don’t count on them significantly contributing to your calcium intake.
5. Oatly Chilled Milks
- Calcium Content Per Serving (1 cup): 350 milligrams (25% DV)
Oat milk has recently become widely popular- perhaps for its smooth mouth feel that contrasts some of the more “watered down” plant milks (not to mention: some are absolutely convinced it’s the best creamer for coffee).
6. Silk Unsweetened Organic Soy Milk
- Calcium Content Per Serving: 300 mg (20% DV)
Soy milk typically contains more protein than almond or oat milks.
And, this one comes with phytoestrogens that may reduce the risk of breast cancer in women- (compared to no soy intake)(8).
7. Good Karma’s Flax Milk (Refrigerated)
- Calcium Content Per Serving: 280-310 milligrams (20% DV)
This milk contains flax oil, an important source of essential omega-3 fatty acid: alpha-linolenic acid(ALA). Omega 3’s help to make up cell membranes and have important roles to play for the immune system and heart health (9).
Good Karma even has a flax milk with added 8 grams of plant based protein from peas.
Why Would I Choose Calcium Fortified Plant Milks?
Here’s why someone might want to consider calcium fortified plant milks:
- They are switching to a dairy free lifestyle and want a “milk” that provides extra nutrition.
- The individual has lactose intolerance (difficulty digesting the sugar (lactose) in milk).
- They have given up dairy and want something that tastes similar.
- A vegan wants to make a recipe that calls for milk
Of course, there may be many other reasons as well!
With so many options available, you’re sure to find milk alternatives that tastes delicious and help meet calcium needs!
Are They Healthy?
Calcium fortified milk alternatives can be a wonderful addition to an overall healthy diet.
They provide readily absorbed calcium that contribute toward recommended daily allowance (RDA). For adults (19-50 years old) that’s 1000 milligrams of calcium per day(4).
Aside from calcium, plant based milks may (but not always) also provide other important nutrients such as:
To know, you’ll have to read the nutrition facts. Not all milk alternatives contain fortification.
Additionally, some plant based milks have added omega 3 fatty acids. Soy, pea, and flax milk may be decent sources of plant based protein.
It is incredibly hard to compare plant based milks to dairy milk because of how diverse vegan alternatives can be!
For example, when it comes to calories, many of the unsweetened varieties contain less per serving than cows milk.
Whole dairy milk contains more saturated fat than plant based milk in general. And generally speaking, we should limit unhealthy saturated fats.
On the flip side some plant based milks contain less protein and more sodium than dairy milk. Still, this can be easily avoided by reading the labels and choosing wisely!
With most topics in nutrition, it’s best to look at food choices in the context of your overall dietary pattern.
What is a Good Alternative to Milk For Calcium that are Dairy Free?
Calcium fortified plant milks are not a necessity. However, as we just learned, they can be a helpful and healthy option for some.
Still, if you are looking for other options that are also dairy free, here are some good alternatives to milk for calcium:
|Food||Serving Size||Calcium (in Milligrams (mg))/ % Daily Value (DV) (values obtained from the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28 Calcium, except for Cream of Wheat).|
|Sardine, Atlantic, with bones, canned in oil||1 cup||569 mg (44% DV)|
|Tofu||0.5 cup||434 mg (33% DV)|
|Natto||1 cup||380 mg (29% DV)|
|Collards, frozen, chopped, boiled and drained||1 cup||357 mg (27% DV)|
|Orange Juice with concentrate, with added calcium||1 cup||349 mg (27% DV)|
|Sesame seeds, roasted and toasted||1 ounce||280 mg (22% DV)|
|Cream of Wheat, Original||3 tablespoons||260 mg (20% DV)|
|Turnip greens, frozen, boiled||1 cup||249 mg (19% DV)|
Calcium Fortified Plant Milks – In Summary
There are many ways to get calcium without the use of daily. Calcium fortified plant milks are one of several ways. There are a variety of options that may range in calcium content from about 100 – 600 milligrams of calcium per serving.
If you trouble meeting your calcium needs talk to your doctor before taking a calcium supplement.
Did you learn something new? What’s your favorite plant powered “milk?” Let us know in the comments below!
And while you’re here, why not explore the blog? We discuss other vegan food questions like:
Whole Food Plant Based Snacks (which ones do Dietitians Recommend?)
Plant Based Diet Books
Guide to Grocery Shopping as a Vegan
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