Vegan Foods with More Calcium than Dairy Milk

Vegan Foods with More Calcium than a Cup of Milk

Are there any vegan foods that have more calcium than a cup of (cow’s) milk?

These days, with dairy advertising everywhere you look, you’d be forgiven for thinking that dairy products are the only source of calcium out there, and if you don’t eat them you’re doomed to a life of weak and brittle bones. But is that really the case? Is our only decent option for calcium cow’s milk?

After the fun I had looking up vegan foods with more protein than a piece of chicken, and more iron than a steak, this week I thought I’d look to see what vegan foods have more calcium than a cup of dairy milk.

How Much Calcium is in a Cup of Dairy Milk?

First up, how much calcium does milk actually have? According to my nutrition database, Foodworks, cow milk has 267mg of calcium per cup (that’s 250ml).

How Much Calcium do your Kids Need?

The next question is how much calcium do your kids actually need? The table below gives you the recommended daily intake (RDI) for kids.

1 – 3 years500mg
4 – 8 years700mg
9 – 11 years1000mg
12 – 18 years1300mg
RDI for calcium from Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand

You may have heard in vegan circles that there’s a small amount of calcium in most foods, so you don’t need to worry about it. While it’s true that there is calcium in grains, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables, there are only small amounts in most foods, and the foods high in calcium tend to be less “kid friendly”.

So that means that you do need to do some careful planning when it comes to getting enough calcium for your growing kids (especially since childhood is the only chance we have of growing strong, healthy bones). I have another post where I talk about which plant milks are best for calcium (and why they’re normally the easiest calcium source for kids) but there are still some super star vegan ingredients that definitely pack a lot more calcium than a cup of milk.

Vegan Foods that are High in Calcium

So check out my table below of vegan foods with the more calcium than a cup of milk.

FoodsCalcium in 1 cup
Unhulled Tahini2150mg
Poppy Seeds2013mg
Chia Seeds1120mg
Hulled Tahini825mg
Tofu (250g)800mg
Soy Yoghurt374mg
Soy Milk (Calcium Fortified)300mg
Dairy Milk267mg
Kale (cooked)*170mg
Cocoa Powder153mg
Bok Choy (cooked)*130mg
Cannellini Beans117mg
Calcium content of 1 cup of food according to Foodworks Database

As you can see, seeds are definitely the way to go. Tahini (sesame seed paste) is by far the best source of calcium, but its bitter taste can definitely take some getting used to!

You’ll notice I’ve put a star next to kale and bok choy. While green veggies have less calcium than dairy milk, their calcium is actually better absorbed by our bodies, so we actually get around the same amount of calcium from them as a serve of dairy milk. So they’re actually a really good dairy milk replacement. But, again, it can take time to get your kids eating lots of greens, so they aren’t the most realistic calcium source for most kids. Even I would be lucky to get more than one serve of greens in on a normal day!

Vegan Recipes with More Calcium than a Glass of Milk

What about some easy recipes to help your kids get enough calcium?

My Extra Veg Chocolate Smoothie has nearly 500mg of calcium per serve, so it’s an easy way to get calcium into your kids – especially younger kids who might not be that keen on seeds and greens.

This Chia Yoghurt recipe is also really good for calcium. While most chia puddings leave the seeds whole, this recipe blends them up so they’re smooth. This also helps your body to absorb the nutrients better.

If you’d like more information on the most important nutrients for vegan kids, make sure you download my guide below.

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