Is that block of white stuff a bit unfamiliar to you?
Not anymore! Find out what makes tofu so popular, how much calcium it has, and more in this Dietitian written article!
Disclaimer: This article is not providing personal medical advice. Always talk to your doctor before adding a supplement or making major dietary changes. See our Disclaimers for more details.
Table of Contents
What Is Calcium, and Why Do I Need it?
Why are so many googling the calcium content in tofu? Probably because you know that calcium is important!
And that would be correct – calcium is an essential mineral after all. We must obtain enough from our diet and or supplements if doctor recommended, as the body does not make calcium on its own.
Calcium is important for many things, including:
- Bone and teeth structure
- Muscle function
- Blood clotting
RDA For Calcium
The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for calcium in adults aged 19 to 50 years old is 1,000 milligrams (mg) calcium per day.
Health effects of not getting enough calcium include poor bone health, which may increase the risk of falls, and even rickets in children.
So it’s really important to get enough throughout the lifecycle!
Ok, but perhaps you clicked on this post to learn about calcium in tofu specifically, but where else can you find calcium? Lets cover that first for those who are curious.
Calcium Rich Foods
But perhaps you already knew that and are wondering about the calcium in tofu because you are on a vegan diet (avoids all animal products). Lets list them!
Vegan Sources of Calcium Rich Foods
Disclaimer: This is not a inclusive list! While these are vegan friendly, non vegans have the option to eat these foods too (just to make it clear). Always read the label to find out if it’s vegan friendly!
- Calcium set tofu
- Plant based milks fortified with calcium
- Orange juice with added calcium
- Low oxalate green vegetables (ex: broccoli, kale, bok choy etc).
To add some context to how calcium rich vegan sources can be, lets look at an example!
Additionally, other plant sources have notable amounts of calcium, such as almonds, white beans, oranges, and tahini. However, the calcium in almonds (as an example) has a somewhat lower bioavailability than the vegan sources we previously mentioned.
This is just something to be aware of, and doesn’t mean that they don’t add up in a nutrient rich varied diet!
Ok, so now if you are saying, lets just get to the nitty gritty about calcium in tofu, without further ado, lets dive in!
What is Tofu, and How Is Tofu Made?
Tofu is believed to have a Chinese origin, and it’s literal translation is “bean curd”.
It is made by coagulating soy milk (a plant based “milk” made from soybeans), and then forming the curds into blocks.
Coagulation agents may include chloride type nigari salts or calcium sulfate, the later of which boosts tofu’s calcium content.
Does that process remind you of how cheese is made? Well, producing tofu is similar!
Depending on the amount of water extracted, tofu can have different textures. Including:
- Soft/Silken Tofu: A type that has been described as having a a silky texture. This type has the most moisture making it a nice addition to smoothies, soft desserts or soups.
- Firm or Extra Firm Tofu: Just like the term, this tofu has less moisture than soft or silken tofu, and should spring back when pressed. These varieties may be more suitable for tofu scrambles, stir-fries or tofu nuggets.
Calcium Content In Tofu
|Type||Tofu Calcium per 100g (gram)|
|Regular, raw tofu prepared with calcium sulfate||350 milligrams|
|Soft tofu, prepared with calcium sulfate and magnesium chloride||111 milligrams|
|Tofu, salted and fermented (fuyu)||46 milligrams|
As we previously mentioned, the calcium content increases with certain coagulants. Calcium sulfate is a common one in the US.
Please note, calcium content may vary depending on the brand, type, etc. Check the label to get up to date information.
Now that you know tofu can provide a significant amount of calcium, you may be wondering, how much is actually absorbed?
Tofu Calcium Absorption
When we think about calcium, milk is often brought up as a good source. So how does the calcium in tofu vs milk compare?
Firstly, there is not a lot of research directly comparing the two.
However, one study suggests that calcium absorption from calcium sulfate set tofu is similar to cows milk in premenopausal women. However, the study at least, but it’s small sample size.
Of course, this study is limited for making in the current topic at hand as bread was used instead of soy milk.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Position Paper on Vegetarian Diets suggests that the calcium absorption form calcium-set tofu is similar to cows milk at about 30%.
Does Tofu Have Any Other Health Benefits?
Calcium-set tofu has other nutrients beside calcium!
It also contains notable amounts of:
- Plant based protein
- Lysine (an essential amino acid some vegans may have a harder time getting enough of)
- Vegan source of choline
- Non-heme iron (type of iron found in plant foods)
And, there may be some benefits that extend beyond nutrients!
For example, isoflavones in soy may protect against certain types of cancer.
One research paper form the Journal of Nutrition suggests that moderate lifetime soy intake throughout the the lifecyle may reduce the risk of breast cancer for women (as compared to no soy intake).
We are excited to continue to watch the research on this incredible legume!
Where to Buy Calcium-Set Tofu
Disclaimer: this is by no means a comprehensive list!
- Trader Joes
- Whole Foods
- Health Food Stores
FYI: We can not guarantee that these stores have tofu in your area or that they are even use calcium salts, as companies may change their ingredients!
If you are wondering where to buy tofu calcium sulfate set (as you may recall, the calcium sulfate set tofu (a type commonly found in the US) contains higher amounts of calcium) specially, know that the following stores may carry, them, but always check the label!
Common Tofu Brands
FYI: again, not a comprehensive list!
- House Foods
- 365 Whole Foods Market Brand
- Good and Gather (Target)
- WildWood Organic
- O Organics (Safeway)
What Can You Do With Tofu?
There are so many different ways to use tofu, making it a popular plant based protein!
Here are some ideas:
- In a stir-fry with other veggies
- As a tofu scramble
- Added to soups
- As a base for creamy sauces
- Grilled or Baked Tofu – learn how with this guide (and side dish ideas) by Melissa Altman-Traub MS, RDN, LDN!
- Marinated and baked – Want some tofu marinade inspiration? Check out 9 Delicious Baked Tofu Marinades by Amy Gorin, MS, RDN!
- As a creamy, protein packed addition to smoothies
- As an addition to smooth desserts (ie: mousse, pie, pudding, etc)
Calcium In Tofu: Summing It Up
Calcium-set tofu provides a good dose of vegan friendly calcium! There are so many ways to cook tofu. Think of it as a blank canvas from which you can make a variety of dishes.
We hope you found this article helpful!
And while you’re at it, why not poke around on our blog? We answer more burning questions you have like, Can Vegans Drink Coffee, What Are Vegan Iodine Sources and Is Guar Gum Vegan?
Lastly, don’t forget to sign up for our e-mail subscribers list if you want to be notified of new articles!
May the fork be with you…