vegan-caclium-cupplement
  • Alyssa Fontaine, RD
  • Apr 26, 2024

Best Vegan Calcium Supplements According to Plant-Based Dietitians

The topic of calcium and its relationship with a vegan diet is a subject of ongoing debate and discussion. 

Some people argue that veganism may pose challenges to meeting calcium requirements. This assumption is based on the fact that traditional sources of calcium like milk, cheese, and dairy products are absent from this dietary choice. 

This has led to concerns about potential calcium deficiency and its association with conditions like osteoporosis. 

The question then arises: Is it indeed necessary for vegans to rely on vegan calcium supplements to meet their calcium needs and reduce the risk of fractures and osteoporosis? 

You can always reach out to plant-based vegan dietitians if you have any uncertainties or concerns about maintaining a balanced vegan lifestyle.

What do vegans use for calcium? 

What is calcium?

Calcium is an essential mineral and nutrient with crucial roles in the body. It’s necessary for various functions including blood clotting, nerve function, muscle contraction, and cardiovascular health. In addition, calcium is important for bones and teeth health. 

Why is it important to get enough calcium?

Since the body lacks the ability to produce calcium on its own, it becomes essential to obtain it through dietary sources or supplements if necessary. Also, ensuring adequate calcium intake is important for everyone, regardless of their dietary choices.

The body’s goal is to keep the calcium level in the blood stable. 

When we meet our calcium requirements, the body maintains a consistent level of calcium in the blood. 

However, if we fail to meet these requirements, the body seeks ways to attain the necessary blood calcium level by extracting calcium stored in the bones. This process can potentially impact bone health by weakening the bones. 

This general “calcium stability” rule applies universally, not exclusively to vegans.

Luckily, calcium could be found in many plant-based foods that vegans could use to get their needs of calcium. You may have heard some myths around veganism and its little calcium options. 

But this is far from being true. A well-balanced vegan diet should contain a variability of foods that allow vegans to meet their needs of an important nutrient like calcium. 

Whether you fully embrace a vegan lifestyle or simply aim to incorporate more plant-based foods into your diet, consulting with plant-based dietitians can provide valuable guidance on your journey.

How do vegans get calcium naturally?

To address this question, it’s essential to begin by defining the term “natural,” which has seen excessive use in recent years. 

This term appears on numerous product labels, including food, skincare items, supplements, hair products, and more. 

The issue arises from the notion that the “natural” label creates an impression that the product is entirely safe and healthy for use. If you hold this belief, you’re not alone, as some companies actively encourage consumers to think this way.

 However, the presence of the “natural” label does not guarantee the product’s safety or healthiness. It is ultimately the responsibility of consumers to verify this information. 

According to the Government of Canada, despite the established definition of “natural,” companies could find a way around the strict limitations from the provided guidance.

It’s better to read food labels and ingredients lists to assess the healthiness of the food.

If you are hesitant, plant-based dietitians and nutritionists are well trained to help you read labels and make a balanced vegan meal plan

What are 3 dairy alternatives for calcium?

Calcium is found in some 

  • Dark green vegetables like cabbage, kale, and broccoli.
  • Fruits like oranges and figs. 
  • Grains like amaranth and whole grains. 
  • Nuts like almonds.
  • Seeds like sesame and chia seeds.
  • Beans like white and navy beans.
  • soy foods like calcium-set tofu, and calcium- fortified food/ beverages like some cereals and orange juice (make sure to check food labels of these products since some “organic” options are not fortified with calcium).

As you can see you have a wide variety of options to get calcium from dietary sources. 

If you want more help in including these foods into your vegan diet, plant based dietitians and nutritionists can help you create a balanced well-planned vegan diet to ensure you meet your needs.

How much calcium do I need everyday?

Calcium recommended amounts differ throughout the different stages of life. These recommendations are based on Canada and the US. 

Age (yr)RDA (mg/day) for MalesRDA (mg/day) for Females 
0 – 0.5200200
0.5 – 1260260
1 – 3700700
4 – 810001000
9 – 1813001300
19 – 50 10001000
51 – 7010001200
> 7012001200

How to get 700mg of calcium a day vegan?

Calcium recommendations vary worldwide. 

The Association of UK Dietitians recommended lower doses of daily calcium. For example, only 700 mg/day of calcium are recommended for both male and female 19+ healthy adults. Some disease conditions may require an increased dosage. 

To limit your confusion, it’s recommended that individuals aim to at least get 700mg of calcium daily. That’s the minimum requirement and if you up it to 1000 mg is ideal. 

However, you should be careful about calcium toxicity, which is the intake of too much calcium. We will be discussing this point further in the article.

How can I get enough calcium without dairy? 

Here is an interesting fact about calcium absorption:

  • The amount of calcium contained in the food and displayed on food labels is different from the actual amount the body takes. For example, dairy products like milk have a calcium absorption rate of 30%. If 1 cup of milk provides 300 mg of calcium, then the body absorbs only 100mg of these 300 mg. 

You may be wondering now: so how do I know how much I’m getting actually? 

According to Harvard, the RDAs are established while taking into consideration factors like calcium absorption rates from different foods. Hence, if you aim to get about 700 – 1000 mg of calcium daily, this should be enough in most cases. 

Again it’s important to state that some health conditions may require an increased or decreased dose. Don’t forget to consult your physician and dietitian to discuss any doubts. 

Here are some tips to increase your daily calcium intake on a vegan diet: 

  • Start your day with calcium-fortified cereal. 
  • You can try to use calcium-fortified dairy alternative beverages with the cereal. 
  • Choose calcium-fortified orange juice instead of the regular one. 
  • Include some chopped nuts into your salad. 
  • According to Canada’s Food Guide, ½ your plate should be filled with vegetables and fruits. Aim to include some dark green vegetables that are high in calcium. 
  • Use calcium-fortified beverages in your smoothies.
  • Choose choleslow over potatoes when eating out or at home. 
  • Include vegetables high in calcium to your pastas. 
  • Try new foods and find new recipes to enjoy high calcium foods in different ways. 

How to get 1200mg of calcium vegan? 

The 1200 mg of calcium is the RDA recommended for females and males over the age of 51 and 70 years respectively. It could be achieved by consuming foods high in calcium, adding calcium-fortified foods to your diet, or maybe if needed taking calcium supplements.

As people grow up, the concern about maintaining bone health rises. Therefore, the recommended daily requirement increases. 

Osteoporosis is a condition commonly associated with aging. Age is a risk factor in itself. Osteoporosis involves the gradual loss of minerals such as calcium from the bones, resulting in reduced bone density and, consequently, decreased bone strength. In simpler terms, it means that the bones become less dense and weaker over time.

Although getting enough calcium is one of the ways to prevent osteoporosis, you shouldn’t rely on it as the only prevention method for healthy bones. Other factors affecting bone health include vitamin D intake, use of tobacco and alcohol, physical exercise, genetics, and intake of other nutrients like sodium. 

As previously emphasized, it’s essential not to assume that you should increase your calcium intake and begin taking a large number of supplements independently. Instead, it is advisable to consult a physician and a dietitian who can assist in addressing your concerns and offer appropriate recommendations.

Why do vegans lack calcium?

Vegan diets often contain elevated levels of certain nutrients but could be deficient in others, such as calcium. Nevertheless, this does not imply that vegan diets are linked to increased health risks like osteoporosis. 

The crucial factor is to ensure that vegans incorporate dietary sources that can supply them with sufficient calcium to fulfill their needs.

How do you know if your calcium is low?

When there is a calcium deficiency in the blood, the body starts to extract calcium from the bones to compensate for the low calcium level in the blood. This process weakens the bones overtime. 

Here are some signs of calcium deficiency: 

  • Feeling tired all day 
  • Having weak and brittle bones
  • Frequent bone fractures
  • Muscle cramps 

Please keep in mind that the presence of any of these symptoms does not automatically indicate a calcium deficiency. It is crucial to consult a physician if you are encountering severe symptoms and rely on their expertise to provide an accurate diagnosis.

Should vegans take a calcium supplement?

The International Osteoporosis Foundation, the Association of UK Dietitians, Osteoporosis Canada, and Becoming Vegan: Comprehensive Edition: The Complete Reference to Plant-Based Nutrition recommend trying to get your calcium needs through food first, as it’s the best option. 

Vegans should aim to get at least 700 mg of calcium from food daily before thinking about supplements. Calcium supplement is cited by Osteoporosis Canada as an option your physician may go with in case you are not able to meet your needs through food and have high risk for osteoporosis. Some diseases and health conditions also affect calcium’s absorption by the body. 

How to choose calcium supplements?

There are many variations of calcium supplements nowadays, which could be confusing to some. 

While it’s advised to consult a pharmacist, a physician, or a dietitian before taking supplements, here are some of the factors to take into consideration when choosing calcium supplements. 

The form of the supplement and calcium used in it: 

Calcium supplements could be found in different forms: capsules, tablets, or liquid. 

In case of calcium supplement tablets, Osteoporosis Canada recommends talking to your pharmacist about the tablet size that’s acceptable to you. In addition, supplements that contain both vitamin D and calcium tend to be bigger in size, which could be a downside for some. 

What is the best form of calcium to take?

Speaking about calcium supplements’ different forms, calcium carbonate and calcium citrate are the main ones. Calcium carbonate is more available and affordable than calcium citrate. However, calcium citrate is better absorbed and has less side effects by the body than calcium carbonate. The downside about calcium citrate is that you may need to take a larger dose of the supplement to get the same amount of calcium you can get of calcium carbonate with a smaller dose. 

Calcium carbonate is in general acceptable to be consumed as part of vegan diets, however it’s always recommended to check the supplements labels or call the manufacturer if in doubt. 

Furthermore, since vitamin D helps increase calcium absorption in the body, calcium-vitamin D supplement could be a great option for those who need to take supplements. Becoming Vegan: Comprehensive Edition: The Complete Reference to Plant-Based Nutrition recommends supplements with at least 15 mcg (600 IU) of vitamin D.  

The amount of calcium per dose:

Usually, you can find the amount of calcium per tablet, capsule, or recommended dose on the supplement’s package. 

In order to know what dose of supplements you need, you first need to know how much calcium you get from food. This doesn’t only include high-calcium foods, but all what you eat in general since many foods contain small amounts of calcium. When added up, you may find that you got anything around 300 mg of calcium without even including high-calcium foods. 

Plant-based Dietitians could help you assess your usual food intake and calculate your calcium intake from food to decide whether or not you may need calcium supplements. 

Most importantly, excess calcium is not harmful when it comes from food. The only concern with excess calcium is when it’s coming from supplements. Hence the importance of not taking supplements if you are getting enough calcium from your diet. 

Osteoporosis Canada recommends taking no more than 500-600 mg of calcium at once. Becoming Vegan: Comprehensive Edition: The Complete Reference to Plant-Based Nutrition recommends that a single dosage of calcium taken at once shouldn’t surpass 500 mg. Instead, taking two doses of 250 mg each two times a day is recommended as an alternative. 

The price:

Different brands have different prices. The price could be related to the number of minerals or vitamins the supplement contains at the same time. A higher price doesn’t guarantee or mean that the supplement is necessarily better. It’s better to compare brands and prices. 

If your physician recommended you calcium supplement for a long period of time, it may be better to choose an affordable one that won’t break the bank in the long term. 

The possible side effects:

Some calcium-supplements could cause you some side effects. Not everyone experiences the same side effects and some people don’t experience any. 

Possible side effects could be: 

  • Constipation 
  • Diarrhea
  • Renal stones 
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms
  • Abdominal pain 
  • Cramps 

If one calcium supplement brand is causing you some side effects, you can try a different brand, forms of supplement, or type of calcium used in the supplement (calcium carbonate, calcium citrate, etc.)

The availability:

As with the price, make sure that the supplement you choose is available. Otherwise, you may find yourself paying a lot of money for shipping to get your supplements if delivered from a different country. 

The safety:

Make sure to check the NPN number on the supplement package. This NPN number refers to the Natural Product Number, which indicates that the product has passed the canadian tests and is considered safe for consumption. 

The appropriate method to take the supplement:

Make sure to know the best method to take the supplement you choose. 

Some calcium supplements are best absorbed when taken with food such as calcium carbonate. Other calcium supplements, like calcium lactate, calcium citrate, and calcium gluconate, could be taken any time. 

You should think about other supplements that you are taking and your needs from other nutrients. 

Should magnesium be taken with calcium?

Calcium supplements affect zinc, magnesium, and iron’s absorption. This means that if you are trying to increase your dietary consumption of any of these minerals, you may want to take the calcium supplement between meals instead of with meals. Your pharmacist can provide more information about the best timing to take calcium supplements after meals or after zinc, magnesium, or iron supplements.

Another alternative would be to take calcium citrate instead of calcium carbonate. Calcium citrate doesn’t reduce iron, zinc, and magnesium absorption from food when taken with meals. 

To know more about calcium supplements and decide whether you are in need of one or not, you can book an appointment with one of our Canada’s or US’s certified plant-based dietitians.

Is there a plant based calcium supplement?

Here is a quick comparison of some of our favorite vegan calcium supplements. 

Vegan calcium SupplementForm of calcium Affordability (cost/serving)*AccessibilityDosing
Maplelife Nutrition – Pure Vegan Calcium Calcium carbonate from red algae 14.24 CAD $ / 90 tablets = 0.16 $/ count Available on Amazon Canada200 mg/ tablet Package recommends intake of 2-3 tablets/ day
Webber Naturals Calcium CitrateCalcium citrate 12.32 CAD $ / 120 tablets = 0.10 $/ count Available on Amazon Canada 300 mg/ tablet Package recommends 2-5 tablets/ day 
Now Calcium CitrateCalcium citrate 18.99 CAD $ / 227 g powder——————–8.79 US$ / 227 g powder Available on Amazon Canada———————- and Amazon US 600 mg / 1.5 tsp. of powderPackage recommended 1.5 tsp./ day
NATURELO Bone StrengthCalcium carbonate from Algae 32.81 CAD $ / 120 capsules = 0.27 $/ count Available on Amazon Canada150 mg/ capsulePackage recommends taking 4 capsules a day 
Deva Vegan Vitamins Cal-Mag PlusMix of calcium carbonate, malate, amino acid chelate, citrate9.72 US$ / 0.11$/countAvailable on Amazon USAbout 333 mg/ tablet Package recommends 3 tablets a day
Rejuvenation Therapeutics Calcium CitrateCalcium citrate 10.95 US$ / 0.12 $/countAvailable on Amazon US100 mg/ capsule package recommends 3 capsules a day
*These prices are taken from Amazon in September 2023. They could be subject to change.

Maplelife Nutrition – Pure Vegan Calcium 

This vegan calcium supplement is certified as a vegan product. It comes in the form of tablets of 200 mg of calcium each. This Canadian product is affordable and available in Canada. 

It consists of calcium carbonate which is one of the two main calcium forms in supplements. Although calcium carbonate in this supplement comes from red algae, it’s still the same calcium carbonate mentioned previously. 

Calcium carbonate should be taken with food to decrease possible side effects. Possible side effects differ from one person to another and include gas, bloating, and constipation. 

This product could last you about 1 to 3 months based on the number of tablets you need to take per day. 

Webber Naturals Calcium Citrate

This vegan calcium supplement is certified as a vegan/vegetarian product. The product is free artificial colors, preservatives or sweeteners, dairy, starch, sugar, wheat, gluten, yeast, soy, corn, egg, fish, shellfish, animal products, salt, tree nuts and GMOs.

 It comes in the form of tablets of 300 mg of calcium each. This product is affordable and available in Canada. 

It consists of calcium citrate which is one of the two main calcium forms in supplements. Calcium citrate is known to have less side effects than calcium carbonate. It could be taken with or without food, however it’s recommended to be taken a few hours before or after other medications. 

Finally, the tablets are advertised to be easy-to -swallow. 

Now Calcium Citrate

This vegan calcium supplement is certified as a vegan/ vegetarian product. The product is free of dairy, egg, gluten, and GMO. It’s also keto and kosher friendly. 

It comes in the form of powder of 600 mg of calcium for every 1.5 teaspoon. The powder is unflavoured. Since the supplement comes in a powder form, it could be taken in different ways. It’s a good alternative for those who have problems swallowing tablet supplements. This product is affordable and available in Canada. 

It consists of calcium citrate which is one of the two main calcium forms in supplements. Calcium citrate is known to have less side effects than calcium carbonate. It could be taken with or without food, however it’s recommended to be taken a few hours before or after other medications. Since it could be taken with food, the powder could be mixed with food like yogurt. 

It’s important to note that it’s not recommended to take more than 500mg of calcium at once, therefore it could be safer to stick to 1 teaspoon of powder (400 mg of calcium) at once. 

NATURELO Bone Strength

This vegan calcium supplement is certified as a vegan/vegetarian product. The product does not contain GMOs, soy, gluten, dairy, eggs, nuts, coloring, preservatives, or flavoring. It comes in the form of capsules of 150 mg of calcium each. This product is affordable and available in Canada. 

It consists of calcium carbonate from algae which is one of the two main calcium forms in supplements. Calcium carbonate should be taken with food which is what is recommended on the package. Taking it with food would decrease possible side effects that may occur with calcium carbonate. 

Possible side effects differ from one person to another and include gas, bloating, and constipation. 

This supplement has an advantage of providing vitamin D along with calcium. Vitamin D enhances the absorption of calcium. In addition, this supplement contains other nutrients like magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin K, zinc, and potassium. 

Finally, the capsules could be opened and the powder could be mixed with food to ease the swallowing. 

Deva Vegan Vitamins Cal-Mag Plus

This vegan calcium supplement is certified as a vegan product. It comes in the form of tablets of 333 mg of calcium each. This product is affordable and available in the United States. 

It consists of calcium carbonate and calcium citrate, which is one of the two main calcium forms in supplements, along with other forms of calcium. 

Calcium carbonate should be taken with food to decrease possible side effects. Possible side effects differ from one person to another and include gas, bloating, and constipation.

This supplement also contains vitamin D, vitamin C, vitamin K, magnesium, zinc, and copper. 

Rejuvenation Therapeutics Calcium Citrate

This vegan calcium supplement is certified as a vegan/ vegetarian product. It comes in the form of capsules of 100 mg of calcium each. This is a good option for those who need small doses of calcium to complete their daily requirement.This product is affordable and available in the United States. 

It consists of calcium citrate which is one of the two main calcium forms in supplements. Calcium citrate is known to have less side effects than calcium carbonate. It could be taken with or without food. 

Is it OK to take calcium supplements everyday?

If you are taking calcium supplements everyday thinking that it’s the best way to reduce the risk of fractures and osteoporosis, you may need to rethink your choice. 

Calcium on its own doesn’t guarantee healthy bones. Instead, calcium should be viewed as an important factor that affects bone strength and health. 

You should think about other factors like vitamin D as mentioned previously in the article. 

In addition, there are some factors affecting calcium absorption. These include protein, sodium, caffeine, and oxalates content in the diet. You may need to think about these options and manipulate them to maximize your calcium absorption from food before taking supplements. 

If your physician determines that calcium supplements are necessary for specific reasons, it may be acceptable to take them daily. 

However, it’s crucial to adhere to the instructions provided on the supplement packaging and follow the recommendations of your physician or pharmacist regarding the frequency and dosage of the supplements.

Is there a downside to calcium supplements?

Understanding that excessive calcium intake can be detrimental to your health, just as insufficient calcium can be, is crucial. 

However, it’s worth noting that the risk of excessive calcium intake primarily arises from calcium supplements rather than dietary sources. 

This is why it’s important to avoid taking calcium supplements if you don’t need them or overtaking them. 

The Tolerable Upper Intake Level of calcium for adults is 2500 mg/day. This means that any adult shouldn’t be exceeding this limit. Also, the 2500 mg limit includes calcium from food as well as supplements. 

Elevated calcium level in the blood could impact bones, kidneys, brain, or heart health. 

Some of the symptoms you could experience with a high calcium level are:

  • Frequent urination
  • Excessive thirst 
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting 
  • Muscle weakness 
  • Bone pain
  • Heart problems 

If you have any doubts about your symptoms, it’s advisable to seek medical advice by consulting a physician. It’s essential to remember that the presence of one or two symptoms may not necessarily indicate calcium toxicity. A healthcare professional can provide an accurate assessment and diagnosis.

Do you feel like you need more support with your vegan diet? Contact our team and book a free discovery call.

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