The real truth about calcium is a lot different!
The average serving of 100ml of full cream milk contains 107mg of calcium, which, depending on your age, is only about 1/3 to 1/4 of the daily recommended intake of calcium needed.
Dairy foods are not a great source of calcium for many people who have issues with dairy - being intolerant or sensitive to lactose (ie, the natural sugar in milk) or casein (a protein in milk), due to the processing of milk, including pasteurising (heating) and homogenisation (mixing the cream/fat into a more consistent liquid.
There are further issues with dairy, due to family ancestry and ethnicity, with many people from parts of the world not normally eating or drinking dairy products. Ancestors of indigenous cultures, Asians, Pacific Islanders have never historically had dairy in their diets, and their bodies have not got sufficient enzymes to digest these foods. This trait has been passed down to the current generation. As such they are more likely to suffer intolerances to dairy or even allergies. Dairy can affect your health by causing excessive mucus secretion, gastrointestinal issues, allergies, skin problems and inflammation (ie stress) in your body).
So for doctors, dietitians, food industry marketers and others to say everyone should consume dairy foods in order to get enough calcium is ill-informed or ignorant at best, as it can be quite dangerous to health at worst.
So where else can you get calcium from for healthy bones and a healthy body?! Calcium is actually more readily found in seafood, nuts, and vegetables and sometimes in much higher amounts than in dairy! Some of the non-dairy highest sources of calcium include (per 100g) in decreasing order:
- sardines (367mg)
- salmon, canned (334mg)
- almonds (250mg) (other nuts are also fairly high in calcium)
- figs, dried (200mg)
- parsley (190mg)
- mussels (173mg)
- oysters (132mg)
- sunflower seeds (100mg) (other seeds are also fairly high in calcium)
- kale (100mg)
- bok choy (86mg)
- spinach (58mg)
- eggs (38mg)
- broccoli/broccolini (33mg)
As you can see, most green leafy vegetables are very high in calcium, as are nuts and seeds, and some seafood too! Whether you have a problem digesting dairy foods or don't like to eat dairy, there are many other options available to you for your calcium requirements!
The other major issue with getting enough calcium in your diet is that you also need other nutrients in order to be able to actually absorb and use the calcium from your food! The major one is vitamin D. Your body cannot absorb calcium for use in healthy bones and other functions without having good vitamin D levels in your body!
How do you get good vitamin D levels? From the sun! Your body makes vitamin D from direct sun exposure on your skin. Not from sunlight through glass windows, and not with sunscreen on! You need to spend enough time in the sun on a regular basis (without burning) to raise your vitamin D levels. But what about the issue with sun exposure causing skin cancer, I hear you ask?! It doesn't happen. That's a whole other topic which I have written about previously on my blog. In short, scientific research shows that sun exposure (and increasing vitamin D levels) in moderate amounts does not cause skin cancer, and actually protects you against many forms of cancer! There are other factors at play that cause skin cancer which you can read about in my other article on this topic.
I don't recommend most calcium supplements as they aren't the easily digested and absorbed types of calcium, and you still need good vitamin D levels to get any benefit. Vitamin D supplements are available too, but again, it's often not the right type of vitamin D that your body can use! This is why you need to speak to a professional (that would be me!) who can holistically look at your situation, your health, diet, lifestyle and goals, to put a personalised plan into place that will actually work for you!