Jan 27 2012

Why Dairy Consumption Leads to Calcium Deficiency

This is going to be a very simplistic explanation of why consuming dairy products, like milk and cheese, actually leads to calcium depletion and osteoporosis rather than preventing it as most of us have been taught.

We have among the highest rates of cow milk consumption in the United States. Correspondingly, we also have the highest rates of osteoporosis and hip replacements. Why is that?

Well thanks to the dairy industry being one of the biggest and most powerful lobbying groups, and insane amounts of money being spent on advertising, we’ve all come to believe milk consumption equals healthy, strong bones.

In fact the opposite is true and here’s why.

Milk is alkaline, however, once it enters our bodies it becomes acidic (as does meat). When there is too much acid, our bodies try to alkalize the acid by leaching alkaline minerals out of our bones and tissue to compensate. Alkaline minerals include calcium, potassium, and magnesium.

Therefore, although you’re consuming a product with a lot of calcium in it, your body is not efficiently absorbing it and actually using up calcium to digest it.

This has been proven in numerous studies including The China Study, which I recommend everyone to read. For purposes of this post I’m only addressing the link between milk/cheese consumption to calcium deficiency, but The China Study also examines the link between dairy consumption and cancer.

If you’re looking for good sources of calcium then start eating more spinach, collards, kale, Swiss chard, lettuces, rhubarb, mustard and turnip greens, and broccoli.

The U.S. RDA for calcium is between 800 and 1,200 milligrams, depending on your protein intake, but many feel that that number is too high. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends between 400 and 500 milligrams calcium daily—half of the U.S.

Raw turnip greens provide the most calcium with 190mg (19% RDA) per 100 gram serving, or 105mg (10% RDA) in a chopped cup. It is followed by Dandelion greens which provide 103mg (10%RDA) per cup, Kale 9% RDA per cup, Mustard Greens 6% RDA per cup, and Collard greens 5% RDA per cup.

Brazil nuts provide 160mg (16% RDA) of calcium per 100 gram serving, 213mg (21% RDA) per cup, and 45mg (4% RDA) per ounce (or about 6 nuts). Almonds will provide 266mg (27% RDA) of calcium per 100g serving, 367mg (37% RDA) per cup, and 74mg (7% RDA) per ounce (~22 Almonds).

Sesame seeds provide the most calcium when they are roasted or dried with 989mg (99% RDA) of calcium per 100g serving, or 277mg (28%RDA) per ounce, and 88mg (9% RDA) per tablespoon. Sesame Butter (Tahini – usually in humus) provides about half the amount of calcium with 426mg (43%RDA) of calcium per 100g serving, 119mg (12% RDA) per ounce, and 64mg (6% RDA) per tblsp.

Flax seeds also provide calcium with 255mg (26% RDA) per 100g serving, 428mg (43% RDA) per cup, and 26mg (3% RDA) per tablespoon. Beware however, as milled or whole flax seeds provide calcium but refined flax seed oil provides no calcium whatsoever.

Dried herbs are also a great source of calcium. Dried thyme with 57mg (6% RDA) per tblsp, dried dill with 53mg (5% RDA) per tblsp, dried marjoram with 40mg (4%RDA) per tblsp, dried rosemary with 38mg (4% RDA) per tblsp, sage, sisymbrium, oregano, spearmint, parsley, poppy seed, chervil and finally dried basil with 21mg of calcium (2% RDA) per tablespoon.