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

Unlike cow’s milk, almond milk is not naturally high in calcium and there is evidence to suggest the added calcium in plant-based milks is not absorbed as well as the calcium found in cow’s milks.1

Last updated 30/04/2021

There are a number of varieties of almond milk on supermarket shelves and whilst some may have added calcium, on average, cow’s milk contains about 40% more calcium compared to almond milk.2

The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend that we include adequate amounts of dairy foods including milk, cheese and yoghurt in our diets. This is supported by scientific evidence which shows that consuming these foods is linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, and is not linked to an increase in weight or risk of obesity.3

The guidelines also include alternatives in the dairy food group (e.g. almond milk), as long as they are fortified with at least 100mg of calcium per 100mL of milk. 3 However, even with fortification, almond milk does not have the same natural benefits as cow’s milk, which contains more protein and a package of readily absorbed nutrients that are hard to replicate.

Replacing dairy foods such as cow’s milk with a plant-based alternative like almond milk could contribute to low levels of calcium.4 Calcium is essential for normal development and maintenance of your bones, as well as playing a role in muscle and heart function. Low intakes of calcium can lead to osteoporosis, which is one of the major causes of morbidity amongst older Australians, particularly postmenopausal women.5 Cow’s milk is an excellent source of absorbable dietary calcium and if you choose almond milk as an alternative, it is important to look for a calcium fortified brand, to ensure you are consuming enough calcium in your diet.

Read more about plant based alternatives to dairy foods and see an Accredited Practising Dietitian for individual advice.

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