Calcium Sources That Don't Require a Cow

Calcium is essential for healthy bones, but it does so much more. Calcium is required for normal muscle and nerve function and your blood to clot properly. A calcium deficiency puts your health at risk because it can lead to osteoporosis or osteopenia. The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies recommends that adults get 1,000–1,200 milligrams of calcium every day based on age.

Dairy products are a well-known source of calcium, but not everyone can consume them, while others may choose to avoid them. Does avoiding dairy put you at risk for not getting enough calcium? In some cases, yes, but not if you choose the right non-dairy foods that are naturally high in calcium or fortified with this vital nutrient. Here are 15 calcium-rich, cow-free foods to try.

1

Soy, Rice, and Nut Milk

Rice Milk

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

While milk and other dairy products are well known for their calcium content, fortified milk alternatives can also help you get enough of this important nutrient in your diet. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends that adults get three cups of low-fat dairy products or fortified soy-based alternatives in their diet every day.

Cow's milk alternatives are fortified with both calcium and vitamin D, so they provide a substantial amount of your daily calcium intake. These milk alternatives come in a variety of flavors including, plain, vanilla, and chocolate, plus there are similar 'coffee creamers' made with these products as well.

2

Calcium-Fortified Orange Juice

Orange Juice

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Orange juice is already an excellent source of vitamin C and potassium and adding calcium makes it even more beneficial. Depending on the brand, an 8-ounce serving of calcium-fortified orange juice can supply you with up to 35% of your daily calcium need. Make sure the label states the juice has added calcium (bonus points if it also has vitamin D).

3

Tofu

Tofu

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Tofu is made from soy. It's often used in place of meat in stir fry or curry dishes. Tofu is an excellent source of calcium as long as it's prepared with calcium sulfate—half a cup can provide about half of your daily calcium requirement. Be sure to look at the label for tofu processed with calcium—it's also an excellent source of protein and other essential minerals.

4

Kale

Kale

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Kale is one of those superfoods that seems to be high in just about every nutrient you can think of except for vitamin B-12. A cup of raw kale is enough to satisfy about 10% of your daily calcium requirement. It's also low in calories—about 7 or so per 1-cup serving.

5

Bok Choi

bok choi

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

All the dark green leafy vegetables are high in calcium and bok choi, (also known as Chinese cabbage, or pak choi) is no exception. One cup of shredded cooked bok choi has about 150 milligrams of calcium—about 15% of your daily requirement.

6

Almonds

Almonds

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Almonds make a healthy snack or a nutritious addition to a salad or side dish. One ounce of almonds (about 24 of them) has just under 100 milligrams of calcium. They're also rich in magnesium, manganese, and vitamin E, plus they contain plenty of healthy fats.

7

Broccoli

Broccoli

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Broccoli is another terrific plant source of calcium. One cup of chopped broccoli will provide about 5% of your daily need, plus it's rich in most other vitamins and minerals, plus fiber and antioxidants. Definitely worth a second helping.

8

Collard Greens

Collard Greens

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Collard greens are very high in calcium. In fact, one cup of collard greens supplies about one-fourth of your daily requirement. Collard greens are also high in several minerals, B vitamins, vitamin A and fiber.

9

Rhubarb

Rhubarb

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Rhubarb is a tangy source of calcium. It's also high in vitamin C, potassium and fiber. It's probably too tart to eat without a bit of sugar, but one cup of rhubarb pieces has about 10% of your daily calcium need.

10

Spinach

Spinach

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Spinach is loaded with nutrients including iron, calcium, vitamin C and fiber, and most other vitamins and minerals. One cup of cooked spinach has about 25% of your daily calcium requirement. Raw spinach is good too, but cooking the spinach really concentrates the nutrients since you'll consume more of the vegetable.

11

Navy Beans

Navy beans

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Navy beans are an excellent source of non-dairy calcium. One cup of cooked navy beans has 125 milligrams for close to 15% of your daily requirement. They're also high in fiber and manganese. 

12

Swiss Chard

Chard

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Swiss chard is high in calcium. One cup of Swiss chard will cover 10 percent of your daily calcium requirement. Chard is also high in fiber, vitamins A and C, and potassium and several minerals.

13

Stewed Tomatoes

Stewed tomatoes are high in calcium.
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Stewed tomatoes are an excellent source of calcium. Fresh tomatoes have some calcium as well, but the cooking process concentrates the amount of tomatoes you consume in a serving, which supplies more minerals. One cup of stewed tomatoes contains nearly 10% of your daily calcium requirement. They're also high in potassium and iron, plus they're rich in vitamins A and C.

14

Pinto Beans

Pinto beans

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Legumes, in general, are good calcium sources, and one cup of pinto beans supplies you with about 8% of your daily calcium requirement. They're also high in manganese and fiber, plus a little vitamin C. Black beans and kidney beans are also good sources—one cup of either bean has about 5% of a day's calcium need.

15

Brazil Nuts

Brazil nuts

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Brazil nuts are best known as an important source of selenium, but they're also an excellent source of calcium. Six Brazil nuts have about 50 milligrams and supply about 5% of your daily need. They're also high in magnesium and healthy fats.

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19 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Calcium Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. Updated March 29, 2021.

  2. Committee to Review Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin D and Calcium, Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D. Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 2010.

  3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Ninth Edition. December 2020.

  4. U.S. Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. 100% calcium fortified orange juice from concentrate, orange. March 19, 2021.

  5. U.S. Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. Tofu, raw, firm, prepared with calcium sulphate. April 1, 2019.

  6. U.S. Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. Kale, raw. April 1, 2019.

  7. U.S. Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. Cabbage, chinese (pak-choi), raw. April 4, 2019.

  8. U.S. Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. Almonds. April 1, 2019.

  9. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. FoodData Central. Broccoli, raw. April 1, 2019.

  10. U.S. Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. Collards, raw. October 30, 2020.

  11. U.S. Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. Rhubarb, raw. April 1, 2019.

  12. U.S. Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. Spinach. December 6, 2019.

  13. U.S. Department of Agriculture: FoodData Central. Beans, navy, mature seeds, cooked, boiled, without salt. April 1, 2020.

  14. U.S. Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. Chard, raw. April 1, 2019.

  15. U.S. Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. Tomatoes, red, ripe, canned, stewed. April 1, 2019.

  16. U.S. Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. Beans, pinto, dry. December 2015.

  17. U.S. Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. Red kidney beans, dry, cooked, fat not added in cooking. April 1, 2020.

  18. U.S. Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. Beans, black turtle, canned. April 1, 2019.

  19. U.S. Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. Nuts, brazilnuts, dried, unblanched. April 1, 2019.

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