A number of the women in my free and private online community have been diagnosed with osteoporosis so they have been told to increase their daily intake of calcium.
Most doctors recommend increasing your dairy intake and taking supplements…right? But if you’re allergic to milk (milk allergy is fairly common), do you know how to get more calcium without milk?
Although this post is not about how to treat your osteoporosis, I will refer to this article for you to learn the functional medicine approach to osteoporosis. I will review how calcium is present in our daily nutritional life.
Everyone Needs to Drink Milk… right?
Many people come to me worried that they have to give up drinking milk because of an intolerance to cow-dairy. “Where will I get my calcium from?” they ask. My answer is: Don’t worry! There are many ways to ensure that your body holds on to the calcium it already has. Also, you just have to know how to get more calcium without milk.
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 other 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 lactose will ferment in your intestines and create lactic acid. It is then leached from your bones to counteract the acidity.
A Guide on How to Get More Calcium Without Milk
Pasteurized milk contains 50% less of the precious mineral than non-pasteurized milk. Low fat milk makes it even more difficult to absorb the calcium that is 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.
It’s easy to learn how to get more calcium without milk. Many of the highest sources of calcium in our diet do not come from dairy. You can get plenty of it daily by eating lots of leafy green vegetables, or by eating bone-in fish. If you had two cups of leafy greens and a can of bone-in sardines in one day, you would have eaten around 840 mg. of calcium. Add in some herbs and spices plus 2 ounces of almonds, and you’d be at the 1,000 mg. mark easily. Dairy-free living is possible and healthy.
** Source: http://chriskresser.com/how-to-keep-your-bones-healthy-on-a-paleo-diet/
Getting Enough Calcium is Just as Important as Not Losing What You Already Have
It’s important to know how to how to get more calcium without milk, especially if you are intolerant to dairy. However, you also have to know how to help your body retain its calcium stores. Here are some ways you can help your body to hold on to calcium:
- Reduce your intake of coffee, tea, soda, salt, and chocolate (caffeine intake causes calcium loss via urine)
- Reduce or avoid refined sugar (it reduces the absorption rate of calcium in the intestines)
- Reduce your phosphorus intake: Processed meats, grains and sodas are very high in phosphorus which binds with calcium. If there is too much phosphorus in your blood, it will pull it from your bones. Consuming too much phosphorus is the same as not consuming enough dairy.
- Ensure that your Vitamin D level is good (Vitamin D is essential to the absorption of calcium in the bones)
- Ensure that you consume enough Vitamin K (required for healthy bone metabolism)
Best Diet to Prevent Calcium Loss
A diet of real food that is high in healthy fats, moderate in protein and lower in carbohydrates will not only prevent you from losing calcium but will also provide plenty of it.
Healthy fats such as grass-fed butter have Vitamin D and K and cholesterol which will help support healthy hormone levels. An excess amount of protein could lead to high levels of phosphorus which we know can impact your calcium level.
Share your thoughts: Have you been diagnosed with osteoporosis or osteopenia ? Are you concerned with the amount of calcium in your diet? What have you done thus far to support your body?
**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.