Life Without Dairy

May 7, 2018
Dietary Reference Intake for Calcium
(Source: Health Canada)
  Age Mg / Day
Infants 0-6 months 200
  7-12 months 260
Children 1-3 700
  4-8 1000
  9-18 1300
Females/Males 19-50 1000
Males 51-70 1000
Females 51-70 1200
Females/Males 71+ 1200

 

“To err is human, to moo, bovine”

 

Many people come to me worried that they have to give up milk because of an intolerance to cow-dairy. But, where will I get my calcium from? My answer is: Don’t worry! There are many ways to ensure you will get enough calcium both from eating non-dairy sources of calcium and taking care to ensure that you hold on to the calcium your body already has.

 

Calcium myths:

 

  1. Everyone needs to drink (cow’s) milk

Not true. The most common allergy is to milk and cow-dairy products. You can be intolerant to either the lactose (sugar) or any of the 25 different proteins in milk which is why lactose-free milk is not always the answer. Most of us actually develop lactose intolerance in early adolescence but don’t realize it and keep drinking milk even though we experience gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea and any other number of symptoms. If you are intolerant to cow-dairy, your body is unable to digest the dairy and absorb the calcium. As well, you can lose calcium from your body because the undigested lactase will ferment in your intestines and create lactic acid. Calcium is then leached from your bones to counteract the acidity.

  1. Dairy products will help prevent osteoporosis

Pasteurized milk contains 50% less calcium than non-pasteurized milk. Low fat milk makes it more difficult to absorb the calcium that’s left because fat is necessary to transport and absorb calcium. Research shows that countries with the highest dairy consumption often have the highest rates of osteoporosis.

 

Getting enough is just as important as avoiding losing what you already have:

In addition to getting enough dairy from your diet, here are some ways you can help your body to hold on to the calcium it’s got:

 

  • Reduce intake of coffee, tea, soda, salt, and chocolate (caffeine intake causes calcium loss via urine)
  • Reduce or avoid refined sugar (reduces absorption rate of calcium in the intestines)
  • Reduce phosphorus intake:  Meats, grains and sodas are very high in phosphorus which binds with calcium. If too much phosphorus is in your blood it will pull calcium from your bones. Consuming too much phosphorus is the same as not consuming enough dairy.
  • Consume calcium with vitamin D (eggs, liver, mushrooms, the sun!)

 

Best diet to prevent calcium loss

  • Not too much protein
  • Includes good fats but not bad fats (trans fats, hydrogenated oils)
  • High in complex carbs (fresh vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts/seeds, fruit in moderation)

 

Cow-Dairy Sources of Calcium:

 

Food Serving Size Calcium mg/serving
Milk 1 cup 315 mg
Cheese 1 oz 130-200 mg
Cottage cheese 4 oz 100 mg
Plain yogourt ½  cup 200g

 

Non-Dairy Sources of Calcium

 

Food Serving Size Calcium mg/serving
Orange juice, calcium fortified 1 cup 300-350 mg
Rice milk, fortified 1 cup 300 mg
Almonds ½ cup 300 mg
Sesame seeds 1/8 cup 275 mg
Sardines, canned with bones 6 medium 275 mg
Tofu 1 cup 258 mg
Salmon, sockeye, canned with bones ½ can 245 mg
Soybeans ½ cup 230 mg
Almond butter 3 oz 225 mg
White beans, cooked 1 cup 170 mg
Baked beans 1 cup 163 mg
Blackstrap molasses 1 tbsp 137 mg
Home-made almond milk (see recipe below) 1 cup 75 mg

 

 Other sources of calcium:

  • Vegetables (artichoke, asparagus, avocado, beans, broccoli, cabbage, carrot, collard greens, kale, okra, parsley, peas, spinach, swiss chard, turnip greens, watercress)
  • Nut butters (cashew butter, tahini, all-natural peanut butter, sunflower seed butter)
  • Beans and Rice (brown rice, chick peas, kidney beans, navy benas, pinto beans, wild rice)
  • Seaweed (Agar, Irish moss, kelp, wakame)

 

Hidden sources of cow dairy on food labels:

Artificial butter flavour, butter, butterfat, buttermilk, casein, caseinates, curds, custards, half and half, hydrolysates, lactalbumin, lactose, nougat, pudding, rennet casein, sour creams, sour milk solids, whey, yogurt.

 

Make your own almond milk!

Soak ½ cup of raw almonds in water overnight. Rinse and drain. Remove skin (optional). Add to blender with 2 cups of filtered water and blend until smooth. Drain through 3-4 layers of cheese cloth to remove pulp. Store in fridge for 2-3 days; shake or stir if necessary as separation will occur.

 

References:

 

  • Bateson-Koch, Carolee. Allergies: Disease in Disguise. Books Alive, 1994.
  • Case, Shelley. Gluten-Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide. Case Nutrition Consulting, 2002.
  • Shulman, Joey. Winning the Food Fight: Every Parent’s Guide to Raising a Healthy, Happy Child. Wiley, 2003.