Growing up, we’ve all heard this a million times: “Drink your milk for strong bones!” It’s always been the assumption that in order to get enough calcium, you have to drink milk. Due to this misconception, a lot of people end up believing that dairy is THE only source of calcium. However, it has been proven that you in fact can be sufficient in calcium without ever needing to consume any dairy.
What is calcium?
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body. It is mainly present in the bones and teeth. It is essential for optimal bone health, efficient nerve and muscle function, and overall cardiovascular health.
Where is calcium found?
Calcium is found in the soil, where it is absorbed into the roots of plants. Animals get their calcium by consuming these calcium-rich plants. Thus, the real source of calcium is the richness of the earth, not animals products. A whole-food, plant based diet has plenty of calcium.
What are some good sources of calcium?
Calcium is found in starches, vegetables, fruits, soy products, and fortified foods such as orange juice and non-dairy beverages.
How much calcium do you need?
The current recommendation for calcium is to consume 1,000-1,300mg for most, healthy adults in the U.S.
- 1 cup of milk has 305 mg of Ca
- cup fortified OJ has 300 mg of Ca
- ½ cup tofu has 434 mg of Ca
- ½ cup cooked kale has 900 mg
- ½ cup cooked spinach has 123 mg Ca
- ½ cup white beans cooked has 96 mg of Ca
If you eat a relatively low-calcium diet, your body will adjust to it. Studies show that consistently consuming a relatively low-calcium diet, of about 415 mg/day, our intestines become more efficient at absorbing calcium, and our kidneys conserve it. And vice versa: when we consume a high calcium diet, 1,740 mg/day our bodies adjust to ti as well by our intestines blocking the calcium absorption, while our kidneys eliminate more. Your body works for you, not against you. It’s really fascinating. Go us!
Moral of the story:
Drink your milk if you want to, but you don’t have to!