5 Reasons Why Dairy Products Don’t Fulfill Your Daily Calcium Requirement?

dairy imageMost people love eating their cheeses, drinking milk, yogurt or ice cream (I do too) but it  is not the only source of calcium you may want to consider getting!

In a nutrition course I’m currently teaching, one of the participants asked whether dairy products provided enough of the required calcium needed each day?

Well,  it got me thinking too about my calcium intake and other micronutrients that I use or don’t use to better manage my joint and muscle aches and pains. Dairy is very congestive producing and acidic.   I get my calcium from a variety of sources rather than dairy!

The answer: Calcium is only one factor in the puzzle.

We all grew up with cow’s milk being THE leading source of calcium and a perfect food because it’s high in protein, fat, and iron. One glass of milk provides 300-500 mg of calcium, an amount hard to find in one food.  We know that dairy foods are important in growth years, pregnancy and lactation for children (mostly in western cultures) but we continue to consume it as adults with an excess  of proteins and other fatty foods. Most of the body’s calcium is found in the bones, the blood and nerves and muscle tissue. Calcium works with magnesium and Vitamin D to be absorbed throughout the body.

Here are 5 reasons why eating dairy does not provide you with your daily calcium requirement:

  1. Dairy is highly acidic. This means, the way our body breaks down or metabolizes high acidic foods (dairy, meat, sugar) affects the acidic pH balance of our blood. In order to seek balance, our body needs to neutralize it and will utilize two alkalizing agents sodium and calcium. When these reserves are used up the body naturally extracts calcium from the bones which over time will leave them weaker and brittle i.e. resulting in Osteoporosis. Osteoporosis occurs when calcium is depleted from the bones leaving them more susceptible to fracture or break. It can also lead to food sensitivities or allergies impacting stomach acid which helps balance your gut bacteria. A balanced ratio of consuming alkaline and acid foods is 20% acid and 80% alkaline. (See Acid/Alkaline chart for more information).
  2. A key factor about calcium is not the amount of calcium you consume but how the body absorbs it. In actuality, we over consume calcium from the dairy, meats, and processed foods we eat and others that are fortified with calcium. Essentially, calcium needs other minerals to be absorbed in the body such as manganese, chromium, phosphorous, selenium and magnesium:
  • Magnesium aids in the absorption of calcium in the blood, nerves and muscle tissues, regulating heart and muscle contraction and nerve conduction. (See past blog post about magnesium, The Calming Mineral, August 30, 2015 ).
  • Vitamin D helps calcium to be absorbed in the digestive tract. Sunlight is essential for generating vitamin D and in increasing absorption throughout the body.
  • Phosphorous also works with calcium absorption at a ratio of 1:1. When a diet is high in phosphorous we can lose extra calcium resulting in calcium being pulled out of the bones. High phosphorous levels re found in red meat, deli meat and soda pop.

3. Pasteurized milk, cheeses and yogurts are how we consume our dairy products. The pasteurization process of dairy removes all the vitamins and minerals naturally found in milk. In the 1949, fortified vitamin D is added to milk (processed synthetically added), calcium and other minerals were added later. Although raw milk is illegal in Canada, it is highly nutritious and has strong medicinal benefits. Studies have shown that raw milk has improved intestinal problems or allergies found in children and adults recovering from many of their symptoms. Read Dr. Mercola article on raw milk .

4. Lactose intolerance is one of the most pervasive allergies that affect children and adults (wheat, chicken and corn are the other top allergens).  Many people are not able to digest lactose (milk sugar) and/or the casein which can cause bloating, abdominal issues, gas, diarrhea or respiratory problems producing inflammation in the gut. As we age our body’s become sensitive to dairy foods and many develop lactose intolerance with similar symptoms.

5. Research is growing over the high consumption of dairy products linked to heart disease, breast and prostate cancer. This is due in part to the high fat contact in milk, the insufficient ratio of calcium to magnesium and hormone disruptors, antibiotics and chemicals fed to cows (such as bovine growth hormone ). Human growth hormones naturally produced in the body are seriously disturbed with these additional pollutants stimulate prostate and breast cells to grow when exposed to too much oestrogen. This dramatically impacts the natural hormonal balance. It not only contributes to cancers but early onset diabetes in children and early sexually development in boys and girls. There are many sources that discuss this subject in greater detail (see references below).

shredded heavenly saladSo, how can you get the proper calcium nutrients and absorption levels to make the nutrient function best in your body?

  • Believe it or not, exercise helps absorb calcium and circulate it throughout the body.
  • Good stomach acid (Hydrochloric Acid) helps benefit calcium absorption in the diet and B12 for supporting good stomach acid in the gut.  Too much stomach acid (imbalance in stomach acid) may interfere with the absorption of magnesium, zinc, iron and manganese.
  • Vegetables, beans nuts and seeds are natural sources of calcium. Some foods high in calcium are apricots, blackstrap molasses, broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens, peas, and beans (pinto adzuki, soybeans (Non-GMO) nuts (almonds, brazil nuts and hazelnuts) and seeds, (sunflower and sesame) , dried figs, kale, salmon, sardines, spinach and tofu.

Not to confuse you more, some foods that are high in oxalic acid such as spinach, rhubarb, Swiss chard, and chocolate interfere with calcium absorption by forming insoluble salts in the gut.  Phytates found in whole grain or foods rich in fibre can also interfere with calcium absorption. (You can find out more about the foods that interfere with calcium absorption from references below)

Eating a balanced diet of vegetables and organic proteins are essential for getting a good calcium balance plus other essential nutrients.

Some other good sources found in supplement form are dolomite and bone meal. Taking a bone meal supplement rather than a straight calcium is an option such as Bone Basics by AOR  This supplement contains a  good balance of calcium and phosphorous (from bone meal) and 1000 IU of vitamin D3, Boron, Magnesium and  K2 and Glucosamine for joint support. A vegan version is AOR’s Ortho-Bone Vegan – includes Calcium (citrate and malate forms) D2 (ergocalciferol),  and folate (folic acid)

There is so much more to talk about on this topic…. Explore it on your own too.


Enjoy your week!

Leave a Comment