Why You Don’t Need Dairy Products for Calcium

http://www.forksoverknives.com/milk-myth-why-you-dont-need-dairy-for-calcium/

The Forks Over Knives site above is based on the book and documentary and is a great resource for recipes and nutritional information.

Here is one of their latest articles explaining why COWS MILK is not a great source of calcium for humans and gives us better options.

 

Busting the Milk Myth: Why You Don’t Need Dairy Products For Calcium

 

The subject of calcium is a hotly debated one. One of the biggest controversies is whether or not we can really get enough calcium following a whole-food, plant-based diet that excludes dairy. 

Here are some of the more common questions:

  • How much calcium do I really need?
  • Can I really get enough calcium eating just plants?
  • What is calcium absorption, and why is it important?
  • What factors (or foods) make me lose calcium?
  • Can’t I just fix everything by taking calcium supplements?

To help clarify this important topic, let’s tackle each of these calcium questions one at a time:

How Much Calcium Do I Really Need?

The current daily recommended allowance for calcium for most adults is 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams. However, plant-based health experts believe these requirements are high for a simple reason: a diet high in animal protein has a high excretion rate, which means you are forced to consume more calcium to make up for the inherent calcium excretion. When following a whole-food, plant-based diet (that is also low in sodium and caffeine), calcium excretion rates are much lower, which logically means that a plant-based eater’s calcium intake can also be much lower.

How much lower? A study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutritionshowed that “individuals with low, but nutritionally adequate, intakes of sodium and protein may have calcium requirements as low as 500–741mg/day.”

Can I Really Get Enough Calcium Eating Just Plants?

Like iron, magnesium, and copper, calcium is a mineral. It is found in the soil, where it is absorbed into the roots of plants. Animals get their calcium by consuming these calcium-rich plants. So even though we are all conditioned to believe that calcium comes from milk and dairy products, the real source of calcium richness is the earth. No wonder that a whole-food, plant-based diet has plenty of calcium.

A varied diet of starches, vegetables, and fruits (without dairy) has sufficient calcium to meet our needs. If you eat a relatively low-calcium diet, your body will adjust. Studies show that when fed a relatively low-calcium diet (415 mg/day), our intestines become more efficient at absorbing calcium, and our kidneys conserve it better. Equally, when overfed with calcium (1,740 mg/day) our bodies adjust as well: our intestines block the calcium absorption, while our kidneys eliminate more. This is an example of how our bodies protect us: if not eliminated, the excess calcium would get deposited in our soft tissues (heart, kidneys, muscles, and skin), making us vulnerable to illness and even death … a true testament to how smart our bodies really are!

So your needs are met. Always

At the end of the day, the “disease” of calcium deficiency from a calorically sufficient natural whole-food plant-based diet is nonexistent.

How Much of the Calcium I Eat Is Actually Absorbed?

The amount of calcium we ingest may be less important than how much we actually absorb. For example, 1 cup of milk contains about 300 mg of calcium. But only about 30% of it (90 mg) is actually absorbable, and thus bioavailable (available to our bodies).

Let’s compare the calcium content and absorption rate of cow’s milk versus some plant-based alternatives:

  • The calcium in firm tofu has about the same absorption rate as dairy products, hovering around 31%. And while ½ cup of tofu yields the same amount of calcium as 1 cup of milk (300 mg), it contains more protein, far less saturated fat, and about a tenth of the sodium.
  • Calcium-intense vegetables like kale and mustard greens enjoy absorption rates of around 40%. In terms of calcium content, a cup of cooked spinach will give you as much calcium as one glass of milk.
  • One cup of bok choy, 1½ cups of kale, or 2 cups of broccoli contain the same amount of calcium as a glass of milk, due to their much better calcium absorption rate (in the 50–60% range! )

What Factors (or Foods) Make Me Lose Calcium? 

Many factors contribute to calcium loss, from age (older people lose more calcium) to vitamin D status (people who test low for vitamin D3 tend to lose more calcium) to the concurrent contents of your intestines. Sodium, protein, and caffeine play primary roles in calcium loss.

  • Sodium: Sodium is our biggest enemy when it comes to calcium loss. For each 1000 mg of sodium (2,500 mg of table salt) excreted by the kidneys, about 40–60 mg of calcium goes with it.
  • Protein: As the intake of dietary protein increases, so does the urinary elimination of calcium. So when you double your protein, your calcium loss through urination increases by 50%.

The propensity of protein to cause calcium loss is particularly interesting when it comes to dairy products, which have always been considered as one of the best calcium sources. You lose 1/3 of the calcium you get from milk and over 2/3 of the calcium you get from cheeses.

  • Caffeine: Caffeine also seriously affects the body’s ability to retain calcium, as it acts as a diuretic and pulls calcium out from the body.

In stark contrast, many leafy green vegetables provide lots of easily absorbed calcium without causing calcium loss!

Can’t I Just Fix Everything by Taking Calcium Supplements?

Even though studies show that supplementing with calcium can reduce the risk of fractures by 10% (hip fractures excluded), doing so can also increase our chances of cardiovascular disease and strokes, cause kidney stones, and induce gastrointestinal distress.

According to the results of a recent randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of over 36,000 post-menopausal women, “Calcium supplements with or without vitamin D are associated with an increased risk for MI (myocardial infarction) and stroke, and this risk appears to apply across subgroups defined by important baseline characteristics. These findings suggest that targeted prescription of calcium supplements to specific population subgroups, such as younger people and those with low dietary calcium intake, should not be endorsed.”

But If We Don’t Drink Milk or Take Calcium Supplements—What Happens to Our Bones? 

A recent study addressed this very important question, comparing the bone mineral density of long-term vegans versus omnivores. The results were astounding; even though the vegans have vastly lower dietary calcium and protein intakes, they enjoyed the exact same bone density as their meat-eating counterparts.

In conclusion, you don’t need dairy or supplements to get enough calcium (in fact they may be a hindrance rather than a help). As long as you eat a calorically sufficient whole-food, plant-based diet that drastically reduces or completely eliminates added sodium, you’ll get all the calcium you need.

Sources:
Heaney, R. (1993). Protein intake and the calcium economy. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 1259-1260.
Ho-Pham, L., Nguyen, P., Le, T., Doan, T., Tran, N., Le, T., & Nguyen, T. (2009). Veganism, bone mineral density, and body composition: A study in Buddhist nuns. Osteoporosis International, 2087-2093.
Oliveira, Rosane. Everything you ever needed to know about calcium. Retrieved from here.
Radford, L., Bolland, M., Gamble, G., Grey, A., & Reid, I. (2013). Subgroup analysis for the risk of cardiovascular disease with calcium supplements. BoneKEy Reports, the Journal of the International Bone and Mineral Society. 
Hunt, Curtis, Johnson, LuAnn K. (2007). Calcium requirements: new estimations for men and women by cross-sectional statistical analyses of calcium balance data from metabolic studies. American Society for Clinical Nutrition.
Walsh, S. (2002). Diet and Bone Health. Retrieved from here.

 

6 Guidelines for Cancer Prevention

The Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine released these 6 guidelines for helping to prevent cancer:

Prevent Cancer Costs by Preventing Cancer

http://www.pcrm.org/nbBlog/index.php/prevent-cancer-costs-by-preventing-cancer/

A new report shows that global spending on cancer drugs reached $100 billion last year—a 10.3 percent increase from 2013. Experts predict that, at this rate, spending on cancer medicine will reach $147 billion by 2018.

But we could potentially save billions by halting the rise of lifestyle cancers. Approximately one-third of cancer cases are preventable, according to the World Health Organization. And the American Institute for Cancer Research states that a healthy diet and other lifestyle changes can prevent an estimated 340,000 cancer cases per year.

Physicians Committee doctors and dietitians released a list of six dietary recommendations to help individuals lower their cancer risk. Read the recommendations below to learn how you can help improve your health. After all, prevention is the best form of treatment!

guidelines-cancer-prevention

The six dietary recommendations to reduce risk of several types of cancer are:

1. Limit or avoid dairy products to reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

Findings: Consuming thirty-five grams of dairy protein each day, the equivalent of one large cup of cottage cheese, increases risk of prostate cancer by 32 percent. Drinking two glasses of milk each day increases risk of prostate cancer by 60 percent.

2. Limit or avoid alcohol to reduce the risk of cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, colon, rectum, and breast.

Findings: One drink per week increases risk of mouth, pharynx, and larynx cancers by 24 percent. Two to three drinks per day increase risk of colorectal cancer by 21 percent.

3. Avoid red and processed meats to reduce the risk of cancers of the colon and rectum. 

Findings: Each 50-gram daily serving of processed meat, equivalent to two slices of bacon or one sausage link, increases risk of colorectal cancer by 21 percent. Each 120-gram daily serving of red meat, equivalent to a small steak, increases risk of colorectal cancer by 28 percent.

4. Avoid grilled, fried, and broiled meats to reduce the risk of cancers of the colon, rectum, breast, prostate, kidney, and pancreas.

Findings: Four types of heterocyclic amines (HCAs) are associated with cancer of the colon and rectum. HCAs form from creatine and amino acids in cooked skeletal muscle, increasing with higher cooking times and higher temperatures. When ingested, HCAs can disrupt DNA synthesis.

5. Consume soy products to reduce risk of breast cancer and to reduce the risk of recurrence and mortality for women previously treated for breast cancer

Findings: Evidence from Asian and Western countries shows that soy products are associated with reduced cancer risk. Chinese women who consume more than 11.3 grams of soy protein, equivalent to half a cup of cooked soybeans, each day during adolescence have a 43 percent reduced risk of premenopausal breast cancer, compared with women who consume 1.7 grams.

Research in Shanghai shows that women with breast cancer who consume 11 grams of soy protein each day can reduce mortality and risk of recurrence by about 30 percent.  U.S. populations show similar findings: the higher the isoflavone intake from soy products, the less risk of mortality and recurrence in women with breast cancer.

6. Emphasize fruits and vegetables to reduce risk of several common forms of cancer. 

Findings: Fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens, help reduce overall cancer risk. A high intake of cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, kale, and cabbage, is associated with an 18 percent reduced risk of colorectal cancer and reduced risk of lung and stomach cancers.

Women who consume the most carotenoid-rich vegetables, such as carrots and sweet potatoes, lower their risk of breast cancer by 19 percent. Overall, women who consume the highest quantities of any kind of fruit or vegetable reduce breast cancer risk by 11 percent.  A high intake of tomato products has been shown to reduce risk of gastric cancer by 27 percent. Garlic and other allium vegetables, such as onions, significantly reduce risk for gastric cancer, while a Western diet (high amounts of meat and fat with minimal amounts of fruits and vegetables) doubles the risk.

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