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Apr 2, 2013 BY Joy McCarthy

Confused about Calcium? To Drink Milk or Not?

—  found in  Food  —

Good day everyone!

Last week I did a segment on the Morning Show sharing healthy milk alternatives with the lovely Liza Fromer, who has a milk sensitivity herself. As soon as she removed cow's milk from her daily coffee, the belly bloat disappeared.

I wanted to address a few more points that I did not talk about in the video.

As I'm sure you can guess, I do not recommend cow's milk. This sterile white liquid when slurped on a daily basis is a recipe for inflammation, food sensitivities (tummy troubles, acne, eczema, headaches etc) and it's an acidifying food. The milk of today is not the same our great-grandparents were drinking otherwise known as raw milk. It is homogenized, pasteurized, sterilized, bleached (to remove the blood and pus colour -- yes, gross) to make it visually appealing, free of fatty lumps otherwise know as that schlop of fat that used to sit on top and completely free of any bacteria whatsoever.

What we have today is not what I call a health promoting food. Yes, it's a great source of calcium at 300mg per cup, but there are far better options than drinking milk from another mother. I've seen hundreds of clients benefit immensely from removing cow's milk from their diet. In fact, one very recent client cleared up her acne prone skin since childhood ditching milk.

Calcium is important, but it's not the only nutrient to consider.

99% of our bones and teeth are made of calcium. The other 1% is is needed for our heart, muscles, and nerves to function properly and for blood to clot. In fact, 3 to 4 pounds of our body weight is calcium! However, in order for calcium to do it's job you also need vitamin D, magnesium and vitamin K2. If you are considering a calcium supplement because you do not want to drink milk (I don't blame you), then consider a "bone-building" supplement, not just calcium. However, food first, always. In fact, you can adequately get all your nutrients for healthy bones and teeth from food alone provided you eat a wide variety of foods that include calcium and other nutrients. AND provided you avoid the foods that create an acidic body and promote leaching of calcium from the bones in an effort to buffer the acidity.

Calcium Deficiency?

Despite all the milk slurping people, we have an epidemic of calcium deficiency. Why might this be?

Coffee, alcohol and smoking cause a negative calcium balance in the body; more calcium is lost than is taken in. Pop and soft drinks are extremely high in phosphorus, low in calcium and do a very efficient job throwing off the balance in your body and are a suggested cause of osteoporosis. Both table salt (try unrefined sea salt or himalayan rock salt instead) and refined nasty sugar also aggravate calcium loss.

Research has shown a direct link between a high protein diet and calcium loss.

Again, that dang phosphorus content of meat may cause the body to lose calcium in its attempt to counteract the phosphorus. The average American gets more than enough protein, so for most of us it can only help to cut down on our factory-farmed meat consumption. If you are an omnivore, I highly recommend you practice Meatless Monday! In fact, vegetarian diets are associated with lower risk of osteoporosis, likely because fruits and vegetables are alkalizing, whereas meat is acidifying.

Food Sources of Calcium, plus other bone-building nutrients

  • Sesame seeds and tahini (sesame paste)
  • Sardines
  • Salmon
  • Goat milk (in moderation, but far more digestible than cow's milk because the casein content is less)
  • Collard greens
  • Spinach
  • Turnip Greens
  • Molasses
  • Tempeh (fermented tofu, make sure it’s organic)
  • Navy beans
  • Almonds
  • Kale

How much calcium is enough?

Read Doug Cook's article on this because there are some really great points around supplementation to consider (please note: I do not recommend you take Tum's for your calcium intake per the article but all the other info is bang on):

Milk alternatives

*These are not a great source of calcium. They are a simply a great option instead of drinking milk.

  • Almond milk
  • Coconut milk
  • Hemp milk
  • Quinoa milk
  • Oat milk
  • Flaxseed milk
  • Goat milk*

It's best to make your own nut milks as most of the store-bought stuff is full of additives like carrageenan that may aggravate your gut and promote inflammation in the gut.

I hope this post answers your questions surround calcium and milk. If not, please do post your questions below and I will be sure to answer them.

Apr 2, 2013 BY Joy McCarthy
45 Comments
Sarah   •   April 2, 2013

Hi Joy! Thanks for this post. I am trying to kick the milk-in-my-morning-coffee habit. What's your take on brown rice milk? I noticed that it's an alternative you didn't mention and I'm curious what you think about it.

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Joy McCarthy   •   April 3, 2013

Raquel   •   April 2, 2013

I'm so glad you mention dairy and acne. I had horrible acne and the dermatologist told me there was no way that food causes acne and then put me on Accutane. I finally got off it and went for an allergy scratch test and found out I'm allergic to dairy. As soon as I stopped the dairy my acne went away! People look at me like I'm crazy when I tell them dairy gives me acne.

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Joy McCarthy   •   April 3, 2013

Lauren   •   April 2, 2013

Hi Joy, I've heard that the acidic nature of cow's milk is actually a major contributor to direct calcium loss in bones, as the body releases alkaline minerals (such as calcium) directly from the bones, teeth, and other tissues when there is an overabundance of acid in the blood. Can you speak on the validity of this statement? There seems to be a major lack of scientific evidence to support this yet, there are many scientific articles out there which claim there to be an inverse relationship between increased intake of cow's milk and osteoporosis development (which may have more to do with the NDC and/or Big Pharma bias). Thanks, Joy!

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Joy McCarthy   •   April 3, 2013

Carly   •   April 2, 2013

Thank you for the info Joy! I was wondering though, does this applies to all cows dairy products? For instance, is cottage cheese or greek yogurt bad too? Thanks! :)

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Carly   •   April 3, 2013

Kristy   •   April 2, 2013

Hi Joy, Do you have any recommendations for brands of coconut milk? I had been using a canned organic coconut milk as a substitute for coffee cream but I'm concerned about potential BPAs in the can lining. Thanks!

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Joy McCarthy   •   April 3, 2013

lynn   •   April 2, 2013

what about chia seeds as a source of calcium?

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Joy McCarthy   •   April 3, 2013

Katie   •   April 3, 2013

Hi Joy! Thanks so much for the information - I have just recently stopped drinking cows milk and notice a huge difference in how I feel. I was wondering the same as Carly posted above (r.e cottage cheese, greek yogurt). I sometimes have greek yogurt for breakfast with homemade granola, so was wondering your thoughts on this. Thanks :)

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Mary Lethbridge   •   April 3, 2013

Hi Joy, what about grassfed raw milk...is this okay to drink? I purchase it from a local farmer, and my son has been finding his bad tummy aches have gotten better since drinking the raw milk. I'm wondering if it is the good bacteria in the milk that pasteurized milk kills that is helping his gut heal.

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Joy McCarthy   •   April 6, 2013

Kris   •   April 3, 2013

Great post Joy! I was diagnosed with mild irritable bowel syndrome last year, and the doc offered meds and talked to me about fibre, but not dairy. As an experiment, I cut out most dairy, and my symptoms lessened substantially. (Unfortunately, it didn't fix my acne though). I'm glad you're warning people to check the additives in non-dairy milks. It's sometimes a challenge to find ones without carrageenan - that stuff is everywhere (even in some of the organic products)!

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Katelyn   •   April 3, 2013

I make my own almond milk, flax milk and coconut milk but we also drink some raw cows milk (from 100% organic grass fed cows) I feel like we've got a pretty good mix of milk and milk alternatives and we're all healthy so it works for us!

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Robert   •   April 4, 2013

Hi Joy, Certianly cow's milk is not the best one to consume. I would make the only exception to non pasteurized milk from cows that are fed with organic grass. And would not do that often. Hopefull such milk still can be found if you look around a bit:) Have a perfect day, Robert

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Mary   •   April 4, 2013

Where can raw milk be purchased? Would coconut kefir be a source of calcium? I would love to know where I can purchase coconut yogurt and coconut kefir as well; I've had zero luck in finding these at my local whole foods stores here in the GTA. :(

Reply
Joy McCarthy   •   April 6, 2013

Estelle   •   April 4, 2013

Hello joy! What do you recommend for babies then? I have a 19 month old who still has a bottle morning and night . Thanks!

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Joy McCarthy   •   April 6, 2013

Joanna   •   April 4, 2013

Hi Joy! Great post as always. The article by Doug Cook says to take calcium carbonate as a supplement if I read it correctly? I've been told calcium citrate is a better source for long term use. What's your take?

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crissy   •   April 4, 2013

Hello, I was wondering what you would give to a one year old? Can they get adequate amounts of fat and calcium from non-dairy milk?

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Joy McCarthy   •   April 6, 2013

Emily   •   April 5, 2013

I would also like to know about yoghurt and kefir milk. Does the process that milk goes through to get to these states make it better for your body? Thanks.

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Kim   •   April 5, 2013

Hi Joy - thank you for this post, I've recently cut dairy out of my diet but have been worried the effects on my calcium levels (especially since I am pregnant). You mention spinach as a good source of calcium. I thought spinach actually contributed to calcium loss because the oxalate it contains. What are your thoughts? Thank you!

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Judith   •   April 5, 2013

I drink alot of milk but it is skim milk, I cant stand whole or 2% milk. I also use the lowfat cottage cheese in a sugar free jello salad that I love. Is skim milk any less harmful than whole milk?

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Joy McCarthy   •   April 6, 2013

Lucy   •   April 5, 2013

Hi Joy - I am allergic to almonds. Could you advise how to make hemp or coconut milk?

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Joy McCarthy   •   April 6, 2013

Andrea   •   April 7, 2013

In your milk alternative section you didn't put rice milk? My children drink enriched rice milk as a substitute to cows milk....is rice milk a healthy calcium alternative?

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Joy McCarthy   •   April 9, 2013

Fit for Life   •   April 10, 2013

Hi Joy, I actually like cow milk, but I am trying to cut back on it. So I started making my own almond milk, which is great!! I used two dates to give it some sweetness, and I am looking forward to my morning coffee even more than before :-). However, I have not found a decent recipe/advise as to what to do with the excess almond meal? I have tried to make some bread and muffins out of it, but failed miserably. Any suggestions?

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Joy McCarthy   •   April 10, 2013

George Heneman   •   April 11, 2013

I grew up drinking milk, but then gave it up after falling for propaganda from "wellness" types, and my health and athletic performance suffered. I won't make that mistake again. I really feel for all of you that have an actual genetic defect that prevents you from enjoying delicious, nutritious milk.

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Stephanie   •   May 27, 2013

Thanks for the article. My question would be the daily quantity required of almonds, for example, to reach the levels that our bodies need. So, how many almonds per day, or kale, etc? Where would I be able to find this info. Thank you!

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donna harrison   •   September 7, 2013

First of all congratulations on your marriage and I hope it was a truly magical day for you! Just referring back to your article on calcium since Im starting to make my own almond milk and I'm curious as to what type of almonds you recommend. Is just raw fine or do they need to be organic? And thank you for your ever positive and incredibly informative advice!

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Lauren Bowles   •   November 6, 2013

Hey joy! Forwarded your article to my mom who at 80 is currently on prescription calcium supplements for osteoporosis. Her doctors advise her to drink a cup of skim milk a day. She pointed put to me that the Cook article you recommended also states milk is an excellent source of calcium so I'm confused. She does not drink raw but it is organic. Would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks!!

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Kim   •   March 4, 2014

Hello, I love this site! I am a junky! I do not believe in eating dairy products, however my partner feels differently. This will undoubtedly be an issue when we raise children. Her comments, "but what about grilled cheese sandwiches, and trips to the ice cream store." I am curious, what is your take on raising children dairy free? Formula, etc.? (Let's add to that all of those unhealthy pizza days at school!)

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Eric   •   March 1, 2016

Dear Joy, Twenty-eight years ago I decided to make cows milk my main diet along with added supplement nutrients. I decided on instant non-fat dry milk. I have been on that diet the full number of years and am in perfect physical health at age seventy-four. I consume six measuring cups of dry powder per day--like clockwork. Obviously my heritage is from Northern Europe and few people can tolerate my diet. But some cannot and are discouraged with your posting. It is hard to beat skim milk on a nutritional basis. I therefore consume 4.5 quarts worth of skim milk in powdered form. I consume it as a thin batter. I love it, but even I have to caution the quantity with each serving. I have never taken any prescription medicine and as I write this am preparing to go out cross country skiing. ----Eric Westhagen, Brandon, Wisconsin

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Elena   •   December 20, 2017

Hi! I am expecting my first child (at 42 years young—-( just thought I’d share); was not planning on introducing milk after breast feeding (if I am even able to breast feed); any thought? Much thanks! Elen

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Rachel Molenda   •   December 21, 2017

Gracie   •   April 22, 2019

Hey joy! I was wondering about your thoughts on the brand Good Karma Flaxmilk..... to buy or not? Could you recommend some of your very favorite store bought milk alternatives? I’m also looking for some that aren’t fortified with nutrients. Thanks!

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Joy McCarthy   •   April 23, 2019

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