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If you’ve noticed that you’re lacking calcium in your diet, you may be wondering what supplements to include to help meet your daily requirements. Whey protein is one option; however, it may not be the best option.
So, does whey protein have calcium? Whey protein does have calcium because it is derived from milk, which is a good source of calcium; however, some brands of whey have significantly higher amounts of calcium than others because they are mixed with casein, which is a better source of calcium than whey.
After reading this article, you’ll learn:
- Whether protein powder is high in calcium
- What other foods contain calcium and how they compare to protein powder
- Why your protein powder might have more calcium
- Whether you should buy whey protein powder that is high in calcium
Is Protein Powder High in Calcium?
All protein powders have calcium, but only protein powders with at least 260mg of calcium per serving are considered high in calcium. The amount of calcium that each protein powder has will depend on the type of protein it contains.
The 260mg benchmark for calcium is determined by the FDA’s recommendation that products considered “high in calcium” have to provide at least 20% of the recommended daily value.
For calcium, the Daily Value (DV) is 1300mg, so a serving has to provide at least 260mg (20%) for it to be considered high in calcium.
Different types of protein (whey, casein, soy, etc.) have different calcium contents, which I’ll discuss in the next section.
Types of Protein & Calcium Content
The following table represents the average calcium content per scoop (~32g) of each type of protein on the market.
|Type of Protein Powder||Images||Calcium per 1 scoop (~32g)|
Type of Protein Powder
Calcium per 1 scoop (~32g)
As you can see, only the milk-based protein sources (casein and whey) provide a significant amount of calcium. Therefore, if your goal is to increase your calcium intake, it’s best to choose a milk-based protein.
However, if you have a dairy allergy or are lactose intolerant, the next best options to meet your calcium requirements are pea, brown rice, or hemp proteins.
Top 2 Reasons Why Your Protein Powder Might Have Higher Calcium
There are protein powders available on the market which have higher calcium contents than the ones discussed above.
The top 2 reasons why your protein powder might have higher calcium content are:
- It is a protein blend that contains casein
- There is additional calcium added to the protein
1. It Is A Protein Blend That Contains Casein
Oftentimes, protein powders will be made with a blend of proteins (whey+casein) rather than just one type of protein by itself (whey or casein separately).
Protein blends containing whey and casein are often referred to as milk protein isolates or milk protein concentrates in the ingredient list.
Oftentimes, supplement manufacturers will create blends of different proteins rather than a pure protein because it saves them money as casein is more expensive than whey and other types of protein.
2. There Is Additional Calcium Added To The Protein
Another reason why your protein powder may be higher in calcium than what is typical of a protein powder is that it includes an added supplemental form of calcium, such as calcium carbonate.
- Does Whey Protein Have Caffeine?
- Does Whey Protein Have Carbs?
- Is Protein Powder Acidic or Alkaline?
- Does Protein Powder Have Iron?
Should You Buy Whey Protein With High Calcium?
Choosing a whey protein powder solely based on its calcium content is unnecessary. Whey protein powder should be used primarily as a supplemental source of protein, so you should choose a protein powder based on its protein content and quality rather than its calcium content.
If you are deficient in calcium, you should look to include more whole food sources of calcium in your diet (which I’ll discuss next), as well as a calcium supplement, rather than increasing your consumption of protein powder.
Calcium supplements are most commonly in the form of calcium carbonate or calcium citrate. For best absorption, calcium supplements should be taken with a meal because the absorption of calcium supplements is higher when they are taken with food.
Interestingly, more isn’t necessarily better; Research shows that the absorption of calcium from supplements is highest with doses of 500mg or less. So, if you need to supplement, I recommend a supplement that provides 400-500mg of calcium.
I personally like Thorne Cal-Mag Citrate + Vitamin C Effervescent Powder. One scoop of this powder creates a pleasant fizzy drink with a mild citrus flavor and 500mg of calcium.
Comparing Calcium in Protein Powder vs. Other Foods
Whole foods naturally contain calcium, especially foods naturally rich in whey and casein proteins (i.e., yogurt & cottage cheese). Other whole foods that are high in calcium are those fortified with added calcium (i.e., breakfast cereals).
The average calcium content of milk-based protein powders per serving is 320mg per serving, which equates to 25% DV (daily value).
|Food||Serving Size||Milligrams (mg) of calcium per serving||Percent DV (Daily Value)|
|Yogurt, plain, low-fat||8 oz.||415||32%|
|Calcium fortified enriched bread||2 slices||350||27%|
|Orange juice, calcium-fortified||1 cup||349||27%|
|Mozzarella, part skim||1.5 oz.||333||26%|
|Sardines, canned in oil, with bones||3 oz.||325||25%|
|Milk, nonfat||1 cup||299||23%|
|Soymilk, calcium-fortified||1 cup||299||23%|
|Milk, whole||1 cup||276||21%|
As you can see, milk-based protein powders have a sufficient amount of protein compared to whole food sources of calcium.
However, you shouldn’t get all of your daily calcium from protein powders alone; instead, you should aim for a combination of protein powder and whole food sources to meet your calcium requirements.
This is mainly because protein powders lack other important nutrients that whole food sources can provide to ensure optimal health.
Therefore if you need to increase your calcium intake, you should reach for yogurt, calcium-fortified foods, cheese, milk, and sardines before reaching for protein powders.
More Resources on Protein Powder
- Drinking Whey Protein Every Day (Are There Drawbacks?)
- Can You Take Whey Protein Without Working Out?
- Can You Mix Whey Protein With Milk?
- Is Cholesterol In Protein Powder Bad
- Does Whey Protein Have Lactose & Can You Drink It?
- Does Whey Protein Powder Have Sugar?
About The Author
Lauren Graham is a Precision Nutrition Level 1 certified nutrition coach. She focuses on helping busy professionals balance healthy eating and purposeful movement. Lauren has a background in competitive swimming and is currently competing as a CrossFit athlete. She has a passion for training, teaching, and writing.
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