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Why is calcium important?

Calcium is a nutrient that helps to build strong and healthy bones and teeth. It is also involved in our nervous system, blood clotting and muscle function. 

This is a B12 infographic

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How can you make sure that you get enough calcium?

You can get enough calcium from a well-planned vegan diet. Calcium-rich foods include calcium-fortified plant milks and yoghurts, calcium-set tofu, soya and linseed bread fortified with extra calcium, and fortified ready oat cereal. Other useful vegan sources of calcium include watercress, kale and okra. Using the meal planning tips on page two will help you to obtain plenty of well-absorbed calcium and hit your target on a daily basis (see infographic).2–5

If you are not eating calcium-rich foods daily as part of a balanced diet, then a calcium supplement may be needed to top up your dietary intake. Speak to a health professional if you have concerns about your calcium intake. A calcium deficiency can impact your general health and, in more severe cases, there can be a risk of rickets in children or osteoporosis in later life. 

Shopping tips

The amount of calcium added to fortified products varies, so check the nutrition information on labels. You can use the ingredients list on a label to work out if calcium has been used to set tofu, e.g. ‘Firming Agent: Calcium Sulphate’. 

In the UK, the following daily calcium intakes are recommended1:

Stage of life

Recommended daily intake (mg)

0–12 months


1–3 years


4–6 years


7-10 years


11–18 years

Males: 1000     Females: 800





*Please note that this information sheet is aimed at adults. Requirements for pregnancy, breastfeeding and childhood are outlined in our information about different life stages available at

Calcium absorption is reduced by components of our diets called oxalates and phytates. The table below provides some information about the variable absorbability of calcium in plant-based foods.6


Plant-based food


Fortified foods, calcium-set tofu, kale, broccoli, brussels sprouts, pak choi, cauliflower, watercress


Almonds, sesame seeds, pinto beans


Spinach, rhubarb

Fortified foods and calcium-set tofu provide us with good amounts of well-absorbed calcium. However, we also need to make sure that we get enough vitamin D because this nutrient is involved in calcium absorption. Further information is available in our vitamin D guidelines

Calcium tips to take away

  • Ensure that your daily diet includes foods containing good amounts of well-absorbed calcium, such as fortified milk and yoghurt alternatives, calcium-set tofu, and soya and linseed bread fortified with extra calcium. 

  • Other useful plant-based sources of calcium include kale, watercress, tahini, haricot beans, almonds, dried figs and okra. 

  • Follow our vitamin D guidelines to help optimise your absorption of calcium. 

Further information

You might be interested to check out the following webpages:

  • Vitamin D – check that you are helping your body to absorb calcium.
  • Bone health – diet and lifestyle tips to support healthy bones.
  • Life stages – including pregnancy, breastfeeding and different age groups.
  • Nutrition overview – information to help you ensure that your overall diet is balanced and varied.


  1. Committee on Medical Aspects of Food and Nutrition. Dietary Reference Values for Food Energy and Nutrients for the United Kingdom London: HMSO; 1991 
  2. Public Health England. Composition of Foods Integrated Dataset (CoFID) (accessed 12 October 2023) 
  3. United States Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central (accessed 12 October 2023) 
  4. ABF Grain Products Ltd Soya & Linseed (accessed 12 October 2023) 
  5. Weetabix Food Company. Ready Brek – Original (accessed 12 October 2023) 
  6. Buchowski, MS. Calcium in the Context of Dietary Sources and Metabolism. In Preedy VR (ed.) Calcium: Chemistry, Analysis, Function and Effects. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry; 2015 (accessed 12 October 2023) 

These are general guidelines about nutrition. If you have concerns about your diet, please talk to your doctor about seeing a dietitian. Discussing the use of supplements with a health professional will help to ensure that they are suitable for you.

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