Calcium is strongly associated with dairy so what’s a vegan to do? Does dairy really have bone-protecting properties? In this interview with Dr. Michael Greger of Nutritionfacts.org, we look into vegan calcium sources and the truth behind all the dairy hype.
We’ve all seen the commercials, the subtle white mustache, the iconic two-word question: Got milk? Milk, and dairy in general, is marketed very strongly as a champion of bone health, mainly due to the calcium content. When transitioning to a vegan diet, you may wonder where you’ll get your calcium and how to keep your bones strong. Well, in this interview with Dr. Michael Greger of NutritionFacts.org, we’ve got you covered! [tweet it]
To hear Dr. Gerger’s full explanation, be sure to check out the video above. But here are some select nuggets:
On the harm of dairy products as a calcium source:
“Dairy is the number one source of calcium in the United States. It’s also the number one source of saturated fat intake, essentially. Not beef, but cheese primarily. You know, as much as burger king says that you can have it your way, you can’t be like, ‘Yeah…could I get the protein and the iron but hold the saturated fat, cholesterol, hormones, antibiotics?’ It just doesn’t work that way. [tweet this]
“Now, the most concerning thing in terms of milk consumption was these series of studies, actually which will be profiling soon on NutritionFacts.org, they actually found that those who drank more milk actually had a higher hip fracture rate, so we’ve known that milk isn’t protective. Whether we’re talking about older women, younger women, peak bone mass; any of that, milk just has not be shown to protect bone health. But here for the first time you’re saying, well… [it] actually increases fracture risk as well as shortening the lifespan and increase risk for cardiovascular disease. … And so, that is not where we want to get our calcium, calcium is important but we should get it from healthy foods, right?” [tweet this]
On vegan sources of calcium:
“Healthy calcium sources are dark green leafy vegetables and you get some in everything from sesame seeds, and nuts, and you know, tahini is a good source, [and also] dried fruits. I mean you, get a little bit throughout the day. I even encourage people to get 600 miligrams of calcium a day. I wouldn’t dip below 600. The average vegan gets over 600. But again if you’re restricting calories for some reason, you’re just not eating a lot, you’ll want to make sure you have a lot of calcium-enriched foods in your diet.”
I hope you enjoyed hearing from Dr. Greger on this issue. As he so aptly pointed out, even if dairy and other animal products do contain some desirable nutrients, they come as a package deal with plenty of undesirable elements. So skip the middle cow and get your calcium from plants–you get all of the nutrients and none of the saturated fat, antibiotics and pus. Yes. There is pus in milk.
This video is focusing on health and nutrition, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention that outside of the entire health detriments of dairy, it is also possibly the cruelest of all the animal products industries. You can learn more about what exactly dairy involves in either of the videos listed at the bottom, but suffice to say, a glass of milk contains far more suffering than a pound of beef.
To be sure you’re getting your daily calcium, check out Cronometer, the awesome software that I use to track my own nutrition. It’s totally free and pretty fantastic. So fantastic in fact, that they’re sponsoring this video post! Be sure to use the link in this post to go make your profile so they know that Bite Size Vegan sent you.
Cronometer. Does a body good. (The milk people are going to sue me…) [tweet the “real” milk catchphrase]
Now, I’d love to hear from you on the calcium issue. Where do you get yours from? Did you, or do you, believe the dairy hype? Let me know in the comments!
— Emily Moran Barwick
I’m glad to know we only need around 600, I got 817 today and chronometer said that was only 84% so I got worried, glad that I’m doing good on that
Emily Moran Barwick (BiteSizeVegan) says
good to hear!
And this just in among latest in research..
“Collectively, these results suggest that Clinicians, advocacy organisations and health policymakers should not recommend increasing calcium intake for fracture prevention, either by use of calcium supplements or dietary sources,” said Dr. Mark Bolland, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Auckland, in a press release. “For most patients who are concerned about their bone health, they do not need to worry about their calcium intake.”
I know Dr. Greger has vids coming out on this (or already has but the free version coming in November) but the above is from a few days ago (Sept 30, 2015) on UPI:
It’s very much in line with my own suspicions about taking daily supplements (and sometimes in the thousands of percents; I wonder if similar research will come out on Vit D or B12, I really would not be remotely surprised if it did).
I’d also not be surprised if they modify research findings again from “supplements and diet…don’t help” to “supplements don’t help, and non-vegan diet sources don’t help, but vegan ones help” ;-)
I use a “minimax” (to use the geek term) strategy: minimize the size of the maximum potential damage. I’ve done this a while. Each calcium pill (very pure vegan from Freeda) I have is 30% or so of daily…have only like 2 or 3 per week…that comes out to 10% or slightly less per day…My reasoning: if supplements are harmful as I suspected in the recommended doses, I’m getting only 10% of that harm (maybe…things can be non-linear)
..on the other hand in the unlikely, but impossible to rule out event in which we’re wrong and veg diet like mind is too low (very unlikely in my case) then even a 10% boost can help “reduce harm” probably significantly reduce harm (since it’s added to some super-low calcium intake level). This second possibility I think it very unlikely but so be it. Meanwhile, the harm is hopefully very low if at all, from his small trickle of very pure (like 5 ingredient) vegan supplement intake.
I do something simliar with B12, though I take more than 10% of recommended…plus blood tests show I am fine on the b12 count, but those come in only every 1-3 years..I might run this “mini-max strategy” by Dr. G. when I send him snail-mail soon. Anyway just to share w/Ashley above and any other readers.
Disclaimer: Doesn’t hurt to be cautious and watch our diet intake levels though..if someone gets deficient in only hurts their health and sometimes hurts the vegan cause too…above is not meant to say “never worry about calcium”…So while I hope above is helpful, we can/should all do our own due diligence, which only can help us all stay (vegan) strong y’all :-)
Can someone answer why on chronometer, that sesame seeds, the primary ingredient in tahini, is shown to have very little calcium while in certain webpages it’s said to contain far more?