Calcium is needed for a variety of biomechanical functions and processes in the body but for many predominately plant-based eaters or vegan, it can be a mineral that we have to intentionally supplement. As a dietitian, I actually think that many non-vegans need to supplement calcium as well. Here’s why you likely need to supplement calcium in your diet:
- Calcium is a big mineral and there is very little in multivitamins (if you take one). Like so little, I wouldn’t even consider your multivitamin providing much calcium.
- Iron and calcium compete for the same absorption site and if you supplement iron individually or in a multivitamin you may not be absorbing all the calcium you consume.
- It’s estimated you can only consume about a third of the calcium present in foods.
- Sometimes there are phytates and compounds that interfere with calcium absorption. For example, spinach contains a lot of calcium but it isn’t very bioavailable – bok choy and kale contain more bioavailable sources.
- It’s a good idea for vegans and non-vegans to consume at least 3 calcium rich food sources everyday including 1 cup fortified plant-based milk, 1 cup fortified orange juice, tofu prepared with calcium, 1 cup cooked kale, bok choy, or broccoli – and the reality is that most people don’t consume 3 sources daily.
So now that you know why you should supplement, let’s talk about some great vegan calcium supplements that do not contain an animal source of vitamin D3 (like the very popular Caltrate versions of a calcium supplement). The options below also use vegetable glycerin or a vegetable capsule without gelatin. Also, I’ve only suggested calcium citrate vegan calcium supplements as even though calcium carbonate supplements are less expensive, calcium carbonate isn’t as bioavailable or as readily absorbed as calcium citrate.
Calcium is a large mineral – which is why you don’t find it in many multivitamins. If calcium was in more multivitamins, you’d be swallowing a ginormous uncomfortable pill! Nutricost provides an easy vegan option, which is pure calcium citrate (the more bioavailable/easier to absorb kind) in an unflavored powder that can be mixed into smoothies or beverages. One scoop contains 650mg of calcium citrate or 50% of the RDA. Check out Nutricost Pure Calcium Citrate Vegan Powder HERE.
Pure Encapsulations is similar to Douglas Labarotories in that both companies have been producing quality vitamins and supplements for some time now plus they both have created a simple elemental calcium citrate capsule. Each Pure Encapsulations Calcium Citrate capsule contains 300mg vegan calcium citrate, or about 23% of the RDA for calcium. Pure Encapsulations Calcium Citrate supplement is soy, gluten, egg, and allergen free. If you’re looking to support your vegan bone health with a straightforward quality calcium citrate supplement, you should check out Pure Encapsulations Calcium Citrate.
Are you looking for more of a food derived calcium supplementation? Look no further than PlantFusion Vegan Calcium where the calcium is sourced from red algae from Iceland’s artic oceans. In each serving, you’ll find 1000mg or about 80% of the RDA – which is more than many other calcium supplements but it’s not in the highly absorbable calcium citrate form. However, there is the addition of Vitamin D3 from lichen, magnesium, and Vitamin K to help increase overall absorption. Unlike some of the other supplements that provide you with only a little bit at a time, each bottle of PlantFusion Calcium is a 3 month supply that you can find HERE.
If you want to just dabble into vegan calcium, Deva is a small bottle and a great choice if you’re just “testing the waters.” The really great part about Deva’s vegan calcium supplement is that they include 4 different forms of calcium to aid in overall bioavailability and absorption. Deva’s Calcium does contain other vitamins and minerals like Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin K, magnesium, and zinc to further support bone health. Check out Deva’s Vegan Vitamins Calc-Mag Plus HERE.
Garden of Life Organic Plant Calcium is also whole food derived from organic algae. With over 20 fruits and vegetables dehydrated, Garden of Life Plant Calcium is also a good source of vitamin D, vitamin K, and magnesium. If you’re looking for a clea, calcium supplement made from organic foods instead of isolated ingredients, the Garden of Life mykind Organic Plant Calcium available HERE is a great option with about 80% of your daily calcium needs per serving.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive vegan calcium supplement, look no further than Amazon Elements Calcium with Vitamin D. The calcium is sourced from Iceland algae and the Vitamin D is Vitamin D2 – not an animal based source. The serving size is only 1 tablet with 38% of your daily calcium needs (500mg calcium per serving) but since the capsules are on the smaller side, it’s likely a good idea for many individuals to consume 2 per day to help better meet calcium needs if you aren’t consuming high bioavailable vegan sources of calcium including fortified plant-based milk, fortified orange juice, or broccoli/kale/bok choy. Check out Amazon Elements Calcium plus Vitamin D HERE.
In 4 mini-tabs of the Rainbow Light Vegan Calcium Citrate, there’s 80% of the calcium RDA (800mg) and 800IU of Vitamin D. Word of caution, the product is labeled as vegan but doesn’t specifically say the source of the Vitamin D3. The addition of Vitamin D does help enhance the overall absorption of calcium and vitamin D is best absorbed with consumed with a fat source – so don’t take it on an empty stomach. Check out Rainbow Light Calcium Citrate Mini-Tabs HERE for more information.
Douglas Laboratories has been creating high quality supplements for the last 60 years and rigorously tests their supplements and products including their Calcium Citrate. So while this may be a highly bioavailable form of calcium, each capsule contains 250mg (or about 20% of the RDA for calcium) and it would be advantageous for many people to consume more than one at a time as all of that calcium won’t be absorbed. Even if you’re consuming calcium citrate, it’s estimated that potentially only a third is being absorbed at one time. If you’re looking for more of a vegan elemental calcium without a bunch of other vitamins and minerals added, Douglas Laboratories produces a high quality vegan supplement you can check out HERE.
Do you currently take a calcium supplement? If so, do you see yours listed? And if not, I would highly recommend considering one of these vegan calcium citrate supplement options and aim to consume it at a separate time than an iron supplement, a multivitamin, or an iron rich meal. For example, consider consuming calcium supplement with a bowl of cereal in the morning or at an afternoon snack but you wouldn’t want to consume it with a whole wheat tortilla filled with black beans, spinach, and salsa (a very high iron meal). Does that make sense? Let me know if you have any questions about vegan calcium sources or supplementation below.