by Jon Yaneff
When most people think about getting their required calcium for the day, they tend to think a cold, tall glass of milk will do the trick.
How much calcium do our bodies need anyway? It is recommended that people between the ages of 19-50 need 1,000 mg of calcium on a daily basis. It is also crucial during adolescence—the recommended intake for ages nine to 18 is 1,300 mg. People over the age of 50 should be getting 1,200 mg of calcium, while postmenopausal women not taking hormone replacement therapy should get 1,500 mg.
As far as obtaining your daily calcium intake from milk, it’s not necessarily the better choice. A cup of milk contains approximately 300 mg of calcium; however, humans barely absorb the calcium from cow’s milk anyway.
It is recommended that organic milk from grass-fed cows should be consumed instead because it is free of growth hormones and antibiotics, and it is less processed, but it’s still cow’s milk and out bodies still have difficulty absorbing it.
Healthy foods that contain calcium not only help you maintain healthy and strong bones and teeth but it helps your blood clot and it also supports proper nerve and muscle function. So where should you get your calcium if not from milk? Vegans, vegetarians (ovo-vegetarians don’t consume dairy), and those who are lactose intolerant or are allergic to dairy won’t even consider milk. Where do they get their calcium? Are there any good dairy sources for your calcium?
Here are five healthy foods that come with a great dose of calcium:
Kale is one of my favorite healthy foods, as it is overloaded with beneficial nutrients. A green smoothie with raw kale contains 90 mg of calcium per cup. If you are preparing a 3.5 cup of kale salad, you will get 315 mg of calcium—more than the amount of calcium you would get from a glass of cow’s milk. Kale should definitely be one of your healthy foods for obtaining your required daily calcium. It also contains manganese and phosphorus which are two other minerals that are important for healthy bones.
Spinach is an excellent course of calcium, containing 244.8 mg per cup. On most occasions you will eat more than one cup, making spinach a better source of calcium than a cup of milk. One cup accounts for 24.5% of your daily value intake. Also, manganese supports growth and development of normal bone structure and joint membranes. Spinach contains 84% of your daily value intake of manganese.
For building or maintaining strong bones, collard greens are an amazing dairy alternative. In just two cups of collard greens you are obtaining 452.2 mg of calcium, nearly 90% of your daily value intake. You drink milk, but who says you can’t drink your greens? Collard greens, spinach, or kale make great options for your daily smoothie. Collard greens also contain vitamin B6 and folic acid which reduce homocysteine levels. Homocysteine has been found to damage bone structure. Collard greens can also be prepared lightly steamed and marinated with lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, honey, dill weed, and sea salt.
Sesame seeds are another great source of calcium. This tiny seed is loaded with the stuff—you’ll see why it’s one of my favorite healthy foods. In just a quarter cup, you get 351 mg of calcium, which trumps a glass of milk. You can easily sprinkle a quarter cup into your salad or spreading tahini (sesame seed paste) onto some whole grain toast. Tahini is a butter-type paste made from ground and hulled sesame seeds, and can be served on its own or can be found within hummus or baba ghanoush.
This healthy food is a great calcium alternative.
For people who can still want to eat dairy products, plain organic yogurt is a very good source of calcium. It contains a whopping 447.4 mg of calcium in one cup. That’s approximately 45% of your daily value intake of calcium in just one shot. Pretty good alternative, isn’t it? Organic grass-fed yogurt from cow’s dairy also contains 35.2% of your daily value of phosphorus, which is a mineral also responsible for the formation and regeneration of bones and teeth.
There are a lot of great healthy foods that are calcium alternatives to milk. A lot of the options I mentioned do not contain dairy, which means there are several good plant-based options available.
Schocker, L., “Surprisingly Calcium-Rich Foods That Aren’t Milk,” The Huffington Post web site, April 25, 2012; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/25/calcium-food-sources_n_1451010.html, last updated April 26, 2012.
Mateljan, G., The World’s Healthiest Foods: Essential Guide for the healthiest way of eating (Seattle: George Mateljan Foundation, 2007), 98, 150, 738.
5 Reasons to Avoid Milk
For years, dairy companies have used massive propaganda to exploit North Americans.
There’s a milk commercial from the 1980s and 1990s with the famous line, “Milk…It Does a Body Good!”
Next, came the first “Got Milk?” commercial which aired in 1993. It became the core focus of the milk campaigns because, at that point, everyone knew that milk contained calcium, which would give you strong bones, right? In the commercial, the main character could not wash down the peanut butter stuck in his mouth for the chance to win a $10,000 prize without drinking milk.
How can anyone forget the milk commercials and magazine ads flaunting every celebrity, athlete, and famous person with that white milk mustache?
For over 30 years, everyone has been telling you that you must drink milk and consume dairy as part of a balanced and complete diet, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Guide Pyramid. After all, the milk companies and government wouldn’t tell you to drink something your body didn’t need…or would it?
In 1991, the USDA’s Food Pyramid had suggested the consumption of less meat, milk, and sweets, and more fruits, vegetables, and other whole plant foods. The National Milk Producers Federation and the National Cattlemen’s Association thought Americans would consume less meat and dairy, which resulted in not much change. Today, the USDA recommends Americans consume three glasses of milk a day. Is it to support your health and wellness or because the milk industry is a multi-billion dollar business?
Here are five reasons that milk really doesn’t do a body good:
Health experts and nutritionists always explain that you should avoid processed foods in your diet to decrease the risk of disease. Well, milk is a processed food. There isn’t a dairy cow at the grocery store, ready for you to pump it, so you know exactly where your milk came from. And would that dairy cow be free of antibiotics and genetically engineered bovine growth hormones rBGH and rBST? These growth hormones cause weakened muscle growth and infertility.
Unnatural for Humans
Humans are the only species that drink another animal’s milk. Have you stopped to ask if this process was even natural? Mother’s milk is important for human babies but the composition of breast milk and cow’s milk is very different. It contains an average of three times more protein than human milk. This can lead to metabolic disturbances in humans, including damaging bone health.
A lot of countries know that milk does a body harm. Countries such as Africa and Asia have the lowest rates of dairy consumption—and the lowest rates of osteoporosis. Isn’t milk known to protect against brittle bones? Scientific studies have found that humans barely absorb the calcium from cow’s milk and especially, if pasteurized, it increases the calcium loss in your bones.
Vitamin D is better than calcium to prevent bone fractures. What are better places to get calcium? Try to eat foods higher in calcium such as organic yogurt, sesame seeds, collard greens, and spinach.
Over consumption of dairy products and calcium could also boost the chance of prostate cancer by 30 to 50% in men. This is another reason why drinking milk could be detrimental to your health.
Milk Pasteurization Inactivates Nutrients
The pasteurization process from cow’s milk has many negative impacts, including the inactivation and destruction of enzymes, destruction of lactobacillus acidophilus bacteria, and the loss of vitamin B6. Also, the destruction of immunoglobulins means any benefits drinking milk would have on your immune system are destroyed.
A better option from conventional pasteurized milk is organic milk. There are fewer additives and more nutrients and vitamins in organic milk. There are up to 50% more vitamin E, 75% more beta carotene, 70% more omega-3 fatty acids, and two to three times more antioxidants. Also, cows in organic farms can roam the open pastures through part of the year and are always grass fed.
Many People Can’t Drink It
Milk is promoted as an essential part of a person’s diet but should it be? According to Dr. Mark Hyman, approximately 75% of the world’s population is genetically unable to properly digest milk and other dairy products. This is because of lactose intolerance, which can cause abdominal pain, bloating, and diarrhea, after consumption.
Milk is also the most common food allergen plaguing the world today. Some reactions include skin rashes, eczema, and hyperactivity, among other issues. Chronic otitis media, infections in the ears, can also be a major problem with milk allergies.
Other Milk Options
Soy and almond milk have been popular milk alternatives for those with dairy allergies and intolerances but are they any better for you? The vitamins within non-dairy milks are synthetic, which provide limited health benefits. The additive carrageenan within these milks is considered a possible human carcinogen, which can cause inflammation and digestive stress.
The best option is to make your own milk such as almond milk. Combine one cup of almonds, four cups of water, and a sweetener (such as maple syrup), into your blender. When complete, use a strainer or a nut milk bag.
The next time you see a milk mustache, it’s best to hand that person a paper towel to wipe their face and inform them of the many health risks of drinking milk.