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7 Surprising Dairy-Free Sources of Calcium and Vitamin D

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    How to Get Calcium and Vitamin D When You're Avoiding Dairy

    Calcium and vitamin D are BFFs when it comes to bone health. Calcium helps with muscle function, whether it's your heart pumping or your leg muscles contracting during a run. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, warding off fractures and osteoporosis.

    Vitamin D does your immune system good—plus, new research suggests it can combat depression, multiple sclerosis, and even some cancers. The only problem? It's tough to find in food, which can pose a major issue during the winter (or if you're stuck in an office all day).

    Instead of resorting to pill supplements, here are the best non-dairy food sources of both nutrients, so you can get your fill no matter what your sunlight and diet restrictions are.

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    Fortified Milk Alternatives

    Whether it's almond milk, coconut milk, hemp, rice, or a soy beverage you put in your smoothies, just one cup of fortified milk alternative has about 300mg of calcium and 100 IU of vitamin D.

    Look for unsweetened versions to cut down on added sugars. If you're looking to match the protein you'd get from a cup of milk, keep in mind soy milk is the only option that measures up.

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    Oily Fish

    Oily fish such as salmon, trout, and Arctic char are excellent sources of vitamin D. Just 2 1/2 ounces (about the size of the palm of your hand) of sockeye salmon provides a full daily dose of the sunshine vitamin! The vitamin D content of oily fish ranges from about 180 IU up to 600 IU for a 2 1/2-ounce portion.

    Bonus points if you eat your oily fish with bones—fish bones are rich in calcium, with just 2 1/2 ounces of canned sardines with bones providing 286mg. That's almost as much as a glass of milk!

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    Leafy Greens

    Just 1/2 cup of cooked collard greens has 141mg of calcium. Runners-up for calcium content in the leafy green category include spinach with 129mg in 1/2 cup, turnip greens with 104mg, kale with 95mg, and rapini with 78mg. These greens don't contain vitamin D, but you can pair them with foods rich in vitamin D, such as oily fish. Or add them to scrambled eggs for a bone-building meal.

    Not sure how to make leafy greens taste great? Try my Sautéed Garlic Rapini with a Kick. Sub in any leafy green you like for a tasty side dish.

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    Tofu Made with Calcium

    Get your vegetarian protein and your calcium all in one! Just 3/4 cup of tofu made with calcium boasts 290mg of bone-building calcium. Try my Finger Lickin' Tofu Nuggets—they'll convert any tofu skeptics into tofu lovers.

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    White Navy Beans

    Just 3/4 cup of white navy beans offers 125mg of calcium. Beans are rich in fiber and can help you stay full and slim down. Regularly eating beans also lowers your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers. How's that for an incentive to add some beans to your salad, soup, or chili?

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    Sesame Seeds

    Whether you sprinkle sesame seeds on a stir-fry or use tahini (sesame seed butter) to make hummus or tasty salad dressings, you're getting some serious calcium. Just two tablespoons of sesame seeds serves up 176mg of calcium, while the same amount of tahini has 130mg.

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    Dried Figs

    Figs are a great way to sweeten desserts naturally. Their fiber can slow the absorption of natural sugars and their extra blast of iron can ward off anemia. Just eight dried figs also offer 107mg of calcium. Enjoy them chopped up in a trail mix, in oatmeal, or in homemade granola bars.

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    Pair your figs with another calcium-rich food: almonds! Make your trail mix higher in calcium with 1/4 cup of roasted almonds, which provide 93mg. Nuts are a great way to get protein and healthy fats into your snacks, and they may help lower cancer risk.