How to get your calcium without dairy...
I bring you this article today following some discussions with some family friends about calcium and dairy. My personal training clients have noticed huge improvements in their skin, hair, nails, digestion and strength from cutting out dairy.
Most of us are aware how essential calcium is. We require it for building strong bones and teeth, as well as hormone production and blood clotting, which is why low calcium levels can result in conditions such as brittle bone disease (osteoporosis).
But we have to have dairy to get calcium, right?
Contrary to popular belief, it's actually very difficult for us to absorb the calcium in dairy. As dairy products are pasteurised, this actually destroys all of the live enzymes; the most important being phosphatase, which is ironically what is required to absorb calcium!
We also require the enzyme lactase to digest diary properly. As most adults only have 5-10% of the lactase they had when they were children, the lactose (milk sugar) ends up collecting in the intestine. This not only causes excess mucus in the body (and can lead to weight-gain and acne) but the harmful toxins in dairy fat include the chemical compound dioxin (linked to many serious diseases.)
The China Study (the largest and most comprehensive study ever undertaken of the link between diet and disease) also found that the rates of osteoporosis are the highest in the countries that consume the highest amount of dairy products.
I suffered from pretty bad acne at age 18 and was put on some very strong meds. Whereas these did help get rid of it, I would always experience breakouts every time of the month in the lead-up to my period. Even after qualifying as a personal trainer, I was still consuming a fair amount of dairy in the form of cows milk, Greek yogurt and cheese throughout the week (there was a substantial amount of crap quality chocolate in there too, but that's another story...)
After learning more about the effects of dairy on the body, as well as how we actually absorb calcium (that I am about to share with you) I removed cows milk from my diet and upped my vitamin D3 and K2 (that helps us absorb calcium.) I replaced yogurt with coconut yogurt and aside from the odd bit of goats milk (far lower lactose than cows milk) I personally consume very little dairy these days.
As a result, my skin is now the best it has ever been and I very rarely even get one spot. I never EVER thought I would be able to say that! I was personally at a huge risk of developing osteoporosis, from the extremely poor diet I had growing up which left high levels of acidity within my system. I have now reduced my risk and my bone density has increased as a result.
The good news
There are plenty of non-dairy alternatives packed full of calcium that we can absorb, but without the potentially harmful side-effects!
So...I'll need to eat tons and tons of these in order to get my calcium, right?
Here's my top foods and amounts (assuming the average adult requires 1000mg calcium per day and 1200mg for women aged over 50) plus the additional benefits of consuming them regularly:
- one cup = 100mg calcium (10% daily needs)
- keeps you full from high fibre
- rich in potassium, vitamins c and k
- one ounce = 75mg calcium
- high in vitamin E and magnesium
- always measure out your servings as it's easy to eat way too many! Many of my favourite recipes also contain almond flour
- one cup = 70mg calcium
- high in vitamins E, C and K
- high in potassium (good for immune system!)
- one cup 84mg calcium
- high in iron, vitamins E and B6 and folate
- use in place of a wrap: these were a great hit at one of my Nourish Nutrition Workshops and my personal training clients still use these today
- one cup = 16% of daily need of calcium
- high in vitamins K, C and A
- tastes amazing in stir-frys and very high in potassium
Black-eyed peas & Navy Beans
- one cup black-eyed peas = 211mg navy beans = 125mg calcium
- good sources of folate, copper, manganese, phosphorus and magnesium
- both high protein and fibre content, will keep you full!
And if you'd like some dairy-free meals that are packed with calcium, be sure to download my FREE recipe book here!
Til next time! Gen x