After reading yesterday's NY times article titled "Got Milk? Might not be doing you much good". I thought I'd write a little something on dairy and calcium sources. While I do think calcium is an important nutrient to consume, especially for our osteopenic/osteoporotic patients, based on the research cited in this article, our average bones don't seem to be better off by guzzling down litres of milk.
I do think it's strange that humans consume so much milk. We really are the only mammals that wean from our mother's breastmilk and then consume the milk of another mammal.
I think we have been sold on this idea that milk is crucial to our diets otherwise our bones will wither and crack. I don't think I've ever drank a glass of plain milk and I've never broken a bone or fractured a hip (maybe I'm just not that daring :-) ).
Calcium has very important functions. 1% of our body's total calcium is needed for healthy heart function, muscle function, nerve transmission, intracellular signaling and hormonal secretion. The other 99% is stored in our bones and teeth.
Something to consider is how much calcium we absorb from a certain food. Milk is actually not as well absorbed compared to some of our vegetarian options. So while you may see high milligram per serving, you need to consider how much your body will actually absorb.
1 cup of skim milk is 300 mg, and 30% absorbed, thus 90mg absorbed by the body
Broccoli has 180 mg per cup, and 60% absorbed, thus 108mg absorbed by the body
Calcium Absorption amounts:
Pinto Beans: 27%
Calcium Rich Foods that are dairy free:
Collard greens (1 cup cooked): 357 mg
Spinach (1 cup cooked): 276 mg
Oatmeal (1 cup cooked): 208 mg
Seaweeds (1/2 cup): 200 mg
Tofu (6 oz): 200mg
Broccoli (1 cup cooked): 180 mg
Chia seeds (2 tbsp): 179 mg.
Swiss Chard (1 cup cooked): 138 mg
Blackstrap Molasses (1 tbsp): 137 mg
Kale (1 cup): 122 mg
Almonds (1/4 cup): 95 mg
Orange (1 mdm): 55 mg
Tahini (2 tbsp): 42 mg
Just like anything in life, I believe it's all about balance and moderation.