Calcium Supplements For Vegans (Epic 2023 List + Calcium FAQs)

Sharing is caring!

Sure, you might be able to find calcium pills in many stores, but what about calcium supplements for vegans?

Is there anything I need to keep in mind when looking for them? And do vegans really need to take a calcium supplement?

Learn in this dietitian written article!

This post was originally published on 9/8/22. The updated date is listed above.

Disclaimer: This article is not providing personal medical or dietary advice. Talk to your doctor before starting a supplement, about any major dietary changes or health concerns you have. See our Disclaimers for more details.

Why Do I Need Calcium?

Have you heard that you need dairy to maintain bone strength? While this is a myth, it’s true that calcium (a nutrient dairy contains) is important for bone health.

In fact, calcium makes up the a lot of the structure of bones and teeth(1)! So getting enough is important.

Other neat functions of calcium include, assisting with proper muscle function, blood clotting, and even hormone production. All of this (and more) in addition to bone health!

However, calcium does not work alone. There are several other nutrients that are crucial for our skeleton.

Other Nutrients that Support Healthy Bones

Aside from calcium, other minerals and (and a vitamin) are important for healthy bones.

They include:

  • Magnesium: helps with bone structure (2)
  • Vitamin D: aids in the calcium absorption (3)
  • Phosphorus: along with calcium, this mineral helps to make up hydroxyapatite, a main component of bones and tooth enamels(4).

It

What is the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)?

The RDA for calcium is 1000 milligrams per day for adults aged 19-50 years old (1).

Because we are all unique and have different medical histories, talk to your doctor about your individual needs.

Since vegans do not consume the number one source of calcium (in the United States): dairy(1), do vegans need to pop a calcium supplement?

Lets talk about that next!

Are Vegans More Likely to Have a Calcium Deficiency?

Some studies suggest that those on vegan diets do not consume as much calcium as individuals on certain non-vegan diets(5).

One recent systematic review and meta-analysis compared calcium intake between vegans and omnivores. The study suggests that the adult vegans had a statistically significant lower calcium intake (mean calcium intake of 729 mg/day) in comparison to the omnivorous adults (mean calcium intake of 993 mg/day) (6).

While the average vegans in that study fell short of the calcium RDA from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) for adults (1), interestingly, they met/come close to UK guidelines! That is – 700 milligrams of calcium per day for non breastfeeding adults 19 years and older without certain medial conditions(7).

So, do vegans consume less calcium than other dietary patterns? Some research suggests this.

However, whether or not vegans are more likely to have an actual calcium deficiency as a result of lower calcium intake is yet to be confirmed.

Low blood levels of calcium could be related to other factors aside from calcium intake. For example, issues with parathyroid glands, vitamin D deficiency, or kidney failure could contribute to low calcium levels (8).

Case in point: when you go vegan, don’t forget about calcium!

A lack of information about plant based sources of calcium may contribute to the lower calcium intake that we see in these studies.

To address this, lets talk about the plant based sources of calcium, before we dive into calcium supplements.

After all, I love to take a food first approach (if possible)!

Calcium Strong Foods on a Vegan Diet

It certainly is possible to meet the RDA for calcium through vegan sources (no dairy milk involved)!

The list below includes plant based calcium foods with the calcium content in milligrams (mg). These values are approximates rounded up when applicable, and obtained from the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28 Calcium(9), unless noted as “variable.”

Please note, this list does not include every single plant based calcium option. That would be super long. 😉

Without further ado, here is a list of vegan friendly calcium sources:

  • Calcium Set Tofu Ex: raw prepared with calcium sulfate (434 mg calcium per 1/2 cup)
  • Edamame (98 mg of calcium per cup)
  • Tempeh (184 mg of calcium per cup)
  • Natto (380 mg of calcium per cup)
  • Calcium Fortified Plant Based ‘Milk‘, cheeses, and yogurts.” (variable, for example, ~55-450 mg of calcium per serving).
  • Broccoli (frozen, boiled, 61 mg calcium per cup)
  • Low Oxalate vegetables, like bok choy and kale (chopped kale contains about 137 mg of calcium per cup)
  • Almonds (96 mg of calcium per one-fourth a cup)
  • Dates (about 30 mg calcium per two pitted medjool dates)
  • Figs (dried- 60 mg calcium per one-fourth a cup)
  • Sesame Seeds (including tahini, a spread made from sesame seeds- about 64 mg calcium per tablespoon of tahini)
  • White Beans (161 mg calcium per cup)
  • Pinto Beans (canned, solids + liquid- 113 mg calcium per cup)
  • Oranges (72 mg calcium per cup of sections)
  • Sweet Potato (76 mg calcium per cup)
  • Molasses (173 mg calcium per one fourth cup)
graphic showing some plant based foods that contain calcium, including calcium fortified beverages and tofu, edamame, kale, broccoli, and orange.

Calcium Absorption from Vegan Foods

If you’ve made it this far, you hopefully know that there are several ways to meet calcium requirements as a vegan!

Some sources contain lots, while others contain smaller amounts of the mineral.

For example, one cup of raw chopped scotch kale contains about 137 milligrams of calcium. You’d have to eat lot of kale to meet the RDA for adults!

Now knowledge of calcium rich vegan plant based foods is important, but one other factor is as well: absorption!

That’s why spinach wasn’t mentioned in our list above.

While spinach contains calcium, absorption is low-likely related to the high presence of oxalates, which bind calcium (10).

As another example, the calcium in kale is more bioavailable than sweet potatoes, again, potentially due to oxalate content as well(11).

For these reasons, calcium fortified plant based milks, or even a small calcium supplement may be helpful to include- but talk to your doctor about supplements!

He/she can help you decide if a supplement is needed. Make sure your health care provider knows about the food sources of calcium you include regularly when you talk about supplements.

Which brings us to the topic at hand- vegan calcium supplements!

The drug store options can be down right confusing. So lets talk about the different forms of calcium first!

Forms Of Calcium Found In Supplements

Calcium carbonate, gluconate, ascorbate: what do they all have in common?

These (and more) are forms of calcium that you may find in your calcium supplement.

In this section, I’ll go over the most common ones you may find and and important things to know about them.

FYI: You will see the term “elemental calcium” mentioned. This refers to the predicted amount of calcium that the body can utilize for bones, teeth, etc.

Calcium Carbonate

This type is approximately 40% elemental calcium(11). You may see it in a lot of supplements because it is commonly known as the cheapest form of calcium.

This article from MedlinePlus suggests that it is best to take calcium carbonate with meals.

Calcium Citrate

Calcium citrate contains about 21% elementals calcium.

While this is less than carbonate, Calcium citrate may be better absorbed than calcium carbonate if you have low levels of stomach acid(11).

Calcium citrate may be more expensive than carbonate, however, some sources suggest that this type of calcium can be taken with or without food (1), which may be useful for some individuals.

Other Forms

While probably less common the the ones mentioned above, you may see other forms of calcium such as:

  • Calcium Gluconate
  • D-Glucarate
  • Calcium Lactate
  • Calcium Sulfate
  • Calcium Ascorbate
  • Calcium Phosphate
  • Microcrystalline Hydroxyapatite – FYI: This type may not be vegan friendly as it may come from animal bones (12).

Alright, so now that we have an overview of the different forms of calcium, what else should we keep on the radar when looking for top notch supplements?

What To Look For In Higher Quality Supplements

In the United States, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has authority regarding dietary supplement, however, the FDA does not approve dietary supplements for labeling, safety and effectiveness prior to being available on the market(13).

So, if individual companies are responsible for providing the public with safe products, you might want to examine their testing processes right?

That’s why you may have heard to check that a third party company tested the product.

This means that someone other than the company has tested the supplement (what they test for will vary, and could include, product identity, heavy metals, potency, etc).

The following organizations are examples of companies that provide third party testing for supplements(14):

If you have questions about a supplement company’s testing process, ask them!

Get Your Doctors Approval Before Starting a Calcium Supplement

It is imperative to talk to your doctor before starting any supplement.

This is important for a variety of reasons including:

  • The supplement could interact with other medications/supplements you are on.
  • You need to be aware of the correct dose and form tailored for you.

There is some research that suggests calcium supplements may increase the risk of adverse health consequences, like heart disease (15). However many questions remain such as: The calcium dose may have been too high and not good for diets with adequate calcium.

We need more research on these calcium supplements.

We’ll say it again for the people in the back! Talk to your doctor about your dietary pattern if you think that your calcium intake is low.

In conjunction with your medical history and any tests, he/she can discuss if a supplement may be beneficial. Be sure to ask them about the risks and benefits to supplementation vs increasing your calcium intake via food!

With that being said, lets get to our list of calcium supplements that are vegan friendly.

Calcium Supplements For Vegans – A List

In order for a calcium supplement to be vegan, it must be devoid of any animal products.

Common ingredients you may find in supplements that are not vegan include gelatin, and dairy.

I did a search for calcium supplements that are also vegan, and came up with the ones below (please not these may only be available in the US)! It is not a comprehensive list, and we can not guarantee the accuracy- remember, ingredients can change.

Under each supplement, we added some notes that mean the following:

  • Form of Calcium: Either citrate, carbonate, or other forms.
  • Price: Based off the non discounted price (rounded up or down as applicable) on the respective websites.
    Legend:
    $ = under 35 cents per serving
    $$ = 36 to 60 cents per serving
    $$$ = over 1 dollar per serving. FYI: Servings are different for each product! And prices can change, so this rating may not be 100% correct. Always check the price before you purchase.
  • Testing?: Does the company use third party testing? If it is not clear, you may want to ask them!
  • Other Ingredients

Lastly, the supplements listed below are calcium only supplements. This means that they only contain calcium, and not mixtures of minerals (and that’s why you won’t see supplements like Future Kind or Hum Nutrition‘s supplement below 😉 ).

Now on to the list!

Picture of the top of a Pure Encapsulations supplement

Pure Encapsulations Calcium Citrate

  • Form of Calcium: citrate
  • Price $
  • Testing?: They utilize independent certified labs to test the ingredients they use. While not stated on the product page, it appears, Consumerlabs.com has tested this supplement according to this source.
  • Other Ingredients: vegetarian capsule (cellulose, water), ascrobyl palmitate.

NutriCology Calcium Citrate

  • Form of Calcium: citrate
  • Price: $
  • Testing?: Certified by NSF as a GMP manufacturer, and utilizes independent laboratories to test finished products per this source .
  • Other Ingredients: Hydroxypropyl methylcellulose, L-leucine

Solaray Calcium Citrate Chewables 1000 mg

  • Form of Calcium: citrate
  • Price: $$$
  • Testing?: The product page says that this product is lab verified for potency, purity and identity. Unsure if this supplement is third party tested.
  • Other Ingredients: Sorbitol, Orange Juice Powder, Cellulose, Citric Acid, Guar Gum, Stearic Acid, Silica, Natural Orange Flavor with other Natural Flavors and Stevia.

Solaray Calcium Citrate 1000 mg

  • Form of Calcium: citrate and carbonate
  • Price: $
  • Testing?: The product page says that this product is lab verified for potency, purity and identity. It appears that Consumerlabs.com has tested this supplement according to this source. Unsure what the results are.
  • Other Ingredients: Vegetable Cellulose Capsule, Magnesium Stearate, Watercress Leaf, Dandelion Root and Parsley Leaf.

Now Foods Calcium Carbonate Pure Powder

  • Form of Calcium: carbonate
  • Price: $
  • Testing?: The product page notes it is quality tested in the USA. Unsure if this supplement is third party tested.
  • Other Ingredients: None.

Now Foods Calcium Citrate Pure Powder

  • Form of Calcium: citrate
  • Price: $
  • Testing?: The product page notes it is quality tested in the USA. Unsure if this supplement is third party tested.
  • Other Ingredients: None

Kal Calcium Citrate 1000

  • Form of Calcium: citrate
  • Price: $$
  • Testing?: Kal does their own testing of products. Unsure if this supplement is third party tested.
  • Other Ingredients: Cellulose, Stearic Acid, Silica and Magnesium Stearate.

Nature’s Blend Dietary Supplements Calcium Carbonate 600 mg

  • Form of Calcium: Carbonate
  • Price: $
  • Testing?: Nature’s Blend products are quality checked by their in-house analytical laboratory. Unsure if this supplement is third party tested.
  • Other Ingredients: Modified Cellulose, Croscarmellose Sodium, Maltodextrin, Acacia Gum, Magnesium Stearate, Silica, Titanium Dioxide, Polyethylene Glycol.

Nature’s Blend Dietary Supplements Chewable Calcium 500 mg

  • Form of Calcium: Carbonate
  • Price: $
  • Testing?: Nature’s Blend products are quality checked by their in-house analytical laboratory. Unsure if this supplement is third party tested.
  • Other Ingredients: Sugar, Sorbitol, Maltodextrin, Stearic Acid, Magnesium Stearate, Acacia Gum, Artificial Flavors.

Carlson Chelated Calcium

  • Form of Calcium: Glycinate chelate
  • Price: $$
  • Testing?: It says here that Carlson products are tested for potency and quality, but unsure if they are 3rd party tested.
  • Other Ingredients: Cellulose, steric acid (veg.), croscarmellose sodium, silicon dioxide, magnesium stearate (veg.), hydroxypropyl methylcellulose, pharmaceutical glaze.

Carlson Chewable Calcium Citrate

  • Form of Calcium: glycinate chelate
  • Price: $
  • Testing? It says here that Carlson products are tested for potency and quality, but unsure if they are 3rd party tested.
  • Other Ingredients: Dextrose, sorbitol, cellulose, natural flavors, stearic acid (veg.), magnesium stearate, silicon dioxide.

Source Naturals CCM Calcium

Source Naturals Calcium Citrate

Solgar Chewable Calcium 500 mg Wafers

  • Form of Calcium: carbonate
  • Price: N/A, you may want to double check at Solgar.com
  • Testing?: This post via solgar.com says that Solgar has an extensive testing process. Unsure if this supplement is third party tested.
  • Other Ingredients: Natural Sweetener (granulated cane sugar), Vegetable Magnesium Stearate, Natural Flavors (vanilla and coconut with other natural flavors), Silica.

Throne Calcium D-Glucarate

  • Form of Calcium: D-Glucarate
  • Price: $$
  • Testing?: Throne does their own testing as mentioned here. Unsure if third party testing is also used.
  • Other Ingredients: Hypromellose (derived from cellulose) capsule, leucine

Final Words

Vegans may not eat dairy, but they have several plant based options that are rich in calcium! These include calcium fortified plant based beverages, low oxalate green vegetables, and calcium set tofu.

Still, some research suggests vegans may consume less calcium than some other dietary patterns (6). It’s important to have a well planned vegan diet that includes adequate calcium.

Talk to your doctor about your eating pattern and whether increasing calcium rich foods or a supplement is right for you. Make sure he/she explains the risks and benefits of both options, and ask about other non-dietary factors that may be available to you to support bone health.

Vegans should be aware that some supplements contain animal products, like gelatin and dairy.

Read the labels, and contact the company if you have questions about their testing procedures or ingredients.

Did you learn something new about supplements and vegan friendly whole food calcium sources? Any other questions? Let me know in the comments below!
And while you’re here, why not explore the blog? We talk about other nutrients for vegans like:

Vegan sources of biotin,
Iodine,
Vitamin B12,
and what to keep in mind at the grocery store!
Sign up for Plant Powered You’s  e-mail subscribers list here to stay up to date with new posts!  

Sharing is caring!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top
Skip to content