Without dairy, where do we get our calcium?


A reader in the UK requested that I write a blog about calcium in a 4-Leaf diet — a topic that is almost as misunderstood as protein; particularly the best food sources for each.

All Whole Plants -- a great source of calcium; and just about everything else that we humans need.

Most of us grew up believing that the best source was meat for the protein and dairy for the calcium. We addressed both of these topics in Chapter 2 (Your Health — At Risk) of our upcoming book. A quote from The China Study in that chapter:

Researchers have found that animal protein, unlike plant protein, increases the acid load in the body. The body does not like this acid environment and begins to fight it.  In order to neutralize the acid, the body uses calcium, which acts as a very effective base.  This calcium must come from somewhere.  It ends up being pulled from the bones, and the calcium loss weakens them, putting them at greater risk for fracture.

Also in Chapter 2 we covered the statistics about osteoporosis and where it is most prevalent — in the countries that consume the most dairy. As a natural plant-eating species, our bodies were designed to get everything they need from whole plants — and that includes plenty of protein and calcium. Some of the MD’s in our book disagree on the topic of supplements or “fortification,” but, personally, I Dr. Campbell’s conclusion; that it might be a good idea to take a little B12 and, if you don’t get out in the sun year-round — perhaps a Vitamin D supplement. That’s it; he said nothing about calcium supplementation.

My friend, Dr. Joel Fuhrman in his office in New Jersey

Last night, in preparation for this blog, I was thinking that virtually ALL whole plants have calcium in them. So I went to nutritiondata.com and examined the calcium content of the first ten fruits and vegetables that came to mind. ALL of them had calcium. As Dr. Joel Fuhrman says in the article on his blog (see link below):

Any healthy diet containing a reasonable amount of unrefined plant foods will have sufficient calcium without milk. Fruits and vegetables strengthen bones. Researchers have found that those who eat the most fruits and vegetables have denser bones.

He adds that “green vegetables, beans, tofu, sesame seeds, and even oranges contain lots of usable calcium, without the problems associated with dairy.” He also talks about the problem with our toxic western diet relative to calcium; “Keep in mind that you retain the calcium better and just do not need as much when you DON’T consume a diet heavy in animal products and sodium, sugar, and caffeine.”

In closing, I would like to mention the Tarahumara Indians in Mexico; a group of people that enjoy startling longevity, physical endurance and a virtual complete absence of our typical chronic diseases. And their diet consists of nothing but corn, squash and beans. I first learned about these people from Dr. Esselstyn and included them in our book as well. 

J. Morris Hicks, getting his daily dose of Vitamin D -- and getting calcium from every single whole plant that he eats every day

If they can thrive on such a limited variety of food, people everywhere should be able to thrive on the 4-Leaf Program — aimed at helping you maximize the percent of your calories from whole plant foods. And, unlike the Tarahumara, we are blessed with the opportunity to enjoy a plethora of 4-Leaf choices — 365 days a year.

If you like what you see here, you may wish to join our periodic mailing list. Also, for help in your own quest to take charge of your health, you might find some useful information at our 4-Leaf page. From the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.

If you’d like to order our book on Amazon,  visit our BookStore now.

—J. Morris Hicks…blogging daily at HealthyEatingHealthyWorld.com

PS: Occasionally an unauthorized ad may appear beneath a blog post. It is controlled by WordPress (a totally free hosting service). I do not approve or personally benefit whatsoever from any ad that might ever appear on this site. I apologize and urge you to please disregard. 

About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, where he has also been a member of the board of directors since 2012. Having concluded that our food choices hold the key to the sustainability of our civilization, he has made this his #1 priority---exploring all avenues for influencing humans everywhere to move back to the natural plant-based diet for our species.
This entry was posted in Dairy, cow's milk, Osteoporosis, Vitamins & Supplements. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Without dairy, where do we get our calcium?

  1. China has some of the lowest hip fracture rates in the world (http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/144/9/901.short) and yet they consume some of the least amount of milk (http://www.card.iastate.edu/iowa_ag_review/summer_04/article5.aspx). We’ve been duped by the dairy industry here in the U.S. Milk does a body bad.

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