How does the calcium in almond milk compare to cow's milk?

Unlike cow’s milk, almond milk isn’t naturally high in calcium – it needs to be added in. There’s evidence to suggest the added calcium in plant-based beverages isn’t as well absorbed as the calcium naturally found in cow’s milks.[1]

Last updated 27/03/2024

There are a number of almond milk varieties at your local supermarket. While some varieties come fortified with calcium, it's worth noting that cow’s milk typically packs about 40% more of this essential nutrient compared to almond milk.[2] 

The Australian Dietary Guidelines encourage us to enjoy a variety of dairy options like milk, cheese, and yogurt, backed by solid scientific evidence linking them to a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. Plus, research shows there’s no need to worry about dairy and weight gain or obesity. 

The guidelines say, for those exploring dairy alternatives like almond milk, to make sure it's fortified with at least 100mg of calcium per 100mL.[3] Keep in mind, although fortified almond milk is a better choice than unfortified, it still doesn't quite match the natural goodness of cow’s milk, which boasts more protein and a unique blend of easily absorbed nutrients that are hard to replicate. 

Switching from cow’s milk to almond milk could contribute to lower levels of calcium.[4]  This vital mineral supports healthy bones, muscles, and heart function. Inadequate calcium can lead to osteoporosis, which is one of the major contributors to disease burden in Australia. This is especially true among older Australians, particularly postmenopausal women.[5] Cow’s milk is an excellent source of absorbable dietary calcium. If you opt for almond milk, opt for a fortified brand to ensure you're getting enough calcium in your diet. 

Curious about more plant-based alternatives to dairy? Visit our YAWA comparing dairy to plant-based alternatives, and seek personalized advice from an Accredited Practising Dietitian.


[1] Heaney RP et al. Bioavailability of the calcium in fortified soy imitation milk, with some observations on method. Am J Clin Nutr 2000; 71:1166-69. 

[2] Food Standards Australia New Zealand. (2011-2013). AUSNUT – Australian Food Composition Tables. 

[3] National Health and Medical Research Council 2013. Australian Dietary Guidelines. Canberra Commonwealth of Australia. 

[4] Cifelli CJ, Houchins JA, Demmer E, Fulgoni VL. Increasing Plant Based Foods or Dairy Foods Differentially Affects Nutrient Intakes: Dietary Scenarios Using NHANES 2007-2010. Nutrients. 2016 Jul 11;8(7). pii: E422. doi: 10.3390/nu8070422. 

[5] Australian Nutrient Reference Values: Calcium. Accessed 14.11.2019

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