For vegans or strict vegetarians who eat only plant-based foods, long lists of ingredients on food, beverage or even vitamin labels can pose a challenge. Enzymes, monoglycerides, gelatin or carminic acid, for example, are common ingredients vegans should watch for, though enzymes and monoglycerides may be either vegan or non-vegan. Although calcium elicits images of dairy products and bone, both of which are red flags for vegans, some calcium supplements fit into a vegan diet.
Calcium phosphate refers to salts that contain both calcium and the phosphate radical, according to the Nephrogenic Diabetes Insipidus Foundation. Calcium phosphate may be listed under other names, including the following, as identified by the Vegetarian Resource Group; calcium phosphate monobasic, acid calcium phosphate, calcium biphosphate and monocalcium phosphate. Alternate forms of calcium phosphate include calcium phosphate tribasic and dicalcium phosphate dihydrate.
Calcium phosphate, along with milk thistle, calcium carbonate and calcium citrate, makes the “dairy-free” ingredient list posted by GoDairyFree.org. Additionally, the Vegetarian Resource Group identifies calcium phosphate – also bone free – as a vegan ingredient. Found in dietary supplements and a variety of food products, calcium phosphate helps to regulate acidity in foods.
Although milk and dairy products do contain calcium phosphate, the vegan ingredient is prevalent in plant-based foods such as table salt, condiments, canned vegetables, baking powder, nutritional supplements and certain flours, according to the Vegetarian Resource Group. Fortified soy milk also typically contains calcium phosphate. Other foods fortified or enhanced with calcium may contain calcium phosphate, often labeled as tricalcium phosphate.
Calcium ingredients typically found in supplements include calcium phosphate, calcium citrate or calcium carbonate, all of which are vegan ingredients. However, calcium supplements that are derived from unrefined oyster shell, bone meal or dolomite -- as indicated on the label -- are not only non-vegan, but may also contain lead or other toxins if not labeled with the United States Pharmacopeia symbol. Additionally, not all vegan calcium ingredients are equal when it comes to absorption. Check with your doctor about which supplements match both your dietary and nutritional requirements.