It’s been drilled into our heads that dairy = calcium, and calcium = strong bones. But is this actually true? Are plant eaters destined for brittle bones? Here’s everything you need to know about calcium and bone health on a plant-based diet.
What is calcium?
Calcium is a mineral found in the ground, which is why plants grown in the ground are high in calcium.
Cows eat tons and tons of calcium-containing plants which means their milk contains calcium. Seems like milk is the best source of calcium, right? Wrong!
Why is milk a bad source of calcium?
Calcium in milk comes with unwanted ingredients like unhealthy saturated fat, cholesterol, growth hormones, antibiotics, and cancer-stimulating IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor 1), and industrial carcinogens.
Why are plants the best source of calcium?
Plants grown in the ground are rich sources of calcium (remember, that’s how they end up in cow’s milk). They are also rich sources of countless other good-for-you nutrients. Unlike milk, you don’t have to make any trade-offs – it’s all goodness all the time! So, let’s cut out the middle cow and just eat our leafy greens! The best sources of plant-based calcium: tofu, leafy greend, beans, and lentils. Forget celebrities with milk on their face – they should be posing kale in their teeth.
Why do we believe milk builds strong bones?
This myth is largely perpetuated by marketing. When you have the cash to get every celebrity under the sun to dawn a milk mustache, people listen. According to the science (which is what we’re all about), populations with the highest average intakes of dairy products also have the highest fracture risk! More dairy does NOT mean stronger bones.
Bone health on a plant-based diet
In adulthood, strong bones are more about preservation than loading on more calcium. Preserve your bones by…
- not smoking
- limiting alcohol consumption
- exercising regularly
- eating a low sodium diet
- getting enough vitamin D either from the sun or from a supplement