Calcium deficiency is fairly common in the general population.
But vegans can be at an even higher risk of it.
Most studies have come to the same conclusion – most vegans don’t get enough calcium.
One study found that vegans getting less than 525 mg of calcium per day increased to a higher risk of bone fractures. (Interesting side note: the vegans with more than 525 mg per day had the lowest fracture risk of any dietary group.)
It’s definitely possible to get enough through vegan food sources of calcium, but can be hard for many vegans.
If you’re worried about calcium deficiency, a supplement is likely your best option.
This is a complete, but as brief as possible guide to the best vegan calcium supplement, and everything you need to know about them.
Vegan vs. Non-Vegan Calcium Supplements
Most calcium supplements are derived from stone, but many are not vegan.
It’s because almost all calcium supplements have other vitamins, minerals, and packaging ingredients included in them. This includes obvious animal products like gelatin and beeswax.
Many calcium supplements also contain vitamin D3, which is almost always not vegan (derived from sheep’s wool) unless specified otherwise.
You need to find a calcium supplement clearly labelled as “vegan.”
Note that these are more expensive. They often cost around $0.25 per pill, and you may need multiple pills per day. It’s a significant expense, but think of it in context of how much you spend on food and it’s not too bad.
What to Look For in a Calcium Supplement for Vegans
Before I can go over the top vegan options, you need to understand what makes one product better than another.
There are 4 main factors that you’ll need to grasp, so I’ll go over them quickly now.
Which is the Best Form of Calcium in a Supplement?
There are several different forms of calcium supplements.
Some absorb better than others, and the ones that absorb poorly often lead to gas and other stomach issues.
You’ll mainly only see these 3:
- Algae calcium – This is plant-based, “pure” calcium that should absorb really well. It’s fairly new so it hasn’t been studied as much as other forms, but most people seem to love it.
- Calcium citrate – The best absorbing calcium form from stone. A meta-analysis found that it absorbs better than calcium carbonate (27% vs 22%).
- Calcium carbonate – Cheaper, but lower absorption rate than the best forms of calcium. Certain studies have shown that it can be better than calcium citrate in certain situations.
Form doesn’t matter too much as long as it doesn’t upset your stomach. Algae calcium is likely the best form of calcium though.
How Much Calcium Do You Need Per Day?
We’ve already covered that you should get at least 525 mg of calcium per day from food AND supplements.
Ideally you get a little more.
The recommended daily allowance of calcium is set to 1,000 mg per day for adults, and 1,200 mg for adults over 50.
Vitamin D is Needed for Calcium Absorption
In order for your body to absorb and use calcium, you need vitamin D, the “sunshine vitamin.”
Since vitamin D deficiency is very common (affects around 75% of people in the winter), this can be an issue.
While you can take a separate vegan vitamin D supplement, most calcium supplements have vitamin D included.
You should be looking for one that will give you at least 800 IU (International Unit) per day of vitamin D.
Additionally, vitamin D3 is much better absorbed than vitamin D2 (a different form), so look for D3. I’ll point these out clearly in the mini-reviews later on.
To add one more level of complexity, vitamin D also requires vitamin K to be used properly, which is why you’ll see many calcium supplements also have vitamin K.
Magnesium is Needed for Calcium Absorption
The last thing you need to look for is magnesium.
Long story short, magnesium is essential for absorbing both vitamin D and calcium.
You don’t necessarily need this in your calcium supplement, as long as you’re getting enough from your food.
Summary of what to look for in an ideal vegan calcium supplement:
- Calcium from algae
- Somewhere between 500-1,000 mg of calcium per day (depending on how much you get from diet).
- At least 800 IU of vitamin D if you don’t get much sun.
The Top Calcium Supplements for Vegans [Comparison Table and Reviews]
After doing a lot of searching, there aren’t too many vegan calcium supplements that fit most of those conditions.
Eventually, I found 4 that I thought were all good options.
They all have reasonable amounts of calcium in good forms, and fit different budgets.
At a minimum, they all have vitamin D and magnesium in addition to a good amount of calcium.
Here’s a summary table to quickly identify the ones you might be most interested in. I’ve gone into more detail for each product down below.
|Name||Calcium (mg)||Calcium Form||Capsules per serving||Other vitamins|
Cost per serving
|Garden of Life Raw||756||Algae Calcium||4||C, D3, K, and Magnesium||$$$|
|Amazon Elements Calcium||500||Algae Calcium||1||D2 and Magnesium||$|
|NATURELO||600||Algae & Calcium-Citrate mix||4||C, D3, K2, Magnesium, Zinc||$$$|
|Deva||1,000||Carbonate, Malate, Citrate Mix||3||C, D2, K, Magnesium||$$|
Let’s go into the more detailed reasons why one supplement might be better for you than another.
If budget isn’t too big of an issue, this is the one that best overall in terms of product quality.
Garden of Life is very reputable, and the supplement ticks all our boxes:
- 800 mg of algae calcium
- 1,000 IU of vitamin D3
- 60 mg of magnesium
- 80 mcg of vitamin K2
That’s an ideal dose of calcium, vitamin D3 (enough so you don’t need a separate D3 supplement), magnesium and vitamin K.
But there are 2 potential downsides. First, the cost per serving sucks, it’ll work out to around a dollar a day depending on the exact price you get.
Secondly, you have to take 4 tablets (medium-sized) to get a serving. If you hate swallowing pills, this could be a deal-breaker.
So if you can afford it, this is a great option, but if not, I’ve got a few others that might be better for you here.
2. Best Budget Option: Amazon Elements Calcium
Amazon Elements is simply Amazon’s brand put on top of a manufacturer’s product.
But they choose their manufacturers carefully, and have a lot of transparency.
The best parts of this supplement are:
- 1 capsule per serving
- Cheapest option by far
- Good amount of algae calcium
- Vitamin D2 and magnesium included.
The only slight con is the vitamin D, which is why this isn’t the best overall for me.
First of all, there’s only 600 IU, which is decent, but again, you ideally want 800 IU+.
Secondly, it’s in the D2 form, which means that you’ll absorb even less.
So if you go with this option, and don’t get much sun, you should still buy another vitamin D supplement to go with it. This may work out to be more expensive than some of the options here.
Naturelo is very similar to Garden of Life.
It’s expensive and you need to take 4 capsules per day, which were the 2 main downsides of Garden of Life.
The 2 main differences are:
- Algae & Calcium-Citrate mix
- Slightly less calcium, but still 600 mg
I don’t consider the calcium form to be a big deal, but you may one way or another.
It’s still got a good amount of calcium, 25 mcg of vitamin D3 (which is 1000 IU), as well as a good amount of magnesium and K2.
Deva is not a bad option, just worse than each of the others for one reason or another for most people.
It’s biggest strength is that it’s in the mid-price range, about half as expensive per serving as Garden of Life.
It also has a wide variety of other vitamins and minerals included.
But the crucial downsides to me are:
- While it has more calcium, it’s a weird mix of calcium carbonate, malate, citrate, and chelate (could cause stomach issues).
- Only 600 IU of vitamin D2 (still need a separate vitamin D supplement if you don’t get much sun).
But if that fits your preferences it’s still a “good” option.
Hopefully this guide will help you find the best vegan calcium for you. Ask any questions you have in the comments below.