It's easy to find foods containing calcium and calcium-rich foods.
But it is essential to know if our body can readily absorb that calcium.
The dairy industry works very hard to ensure that you think that dairy is one of your best sources of calcium. In 2003 the National Dairy Council spent over 165 million dollars to increase demand for U.S. produced dairy products.¹
United Dairy Industry chairman, Bill Siebenborn, claimed in November 2010, "The National Dairy Checkoff Program is helping lead the industry on a path to prosperity.” Strategic partnerships with companies who have shared vision and goals with dairy producers, such as Macdonalds and Dominos Pizza, resulted in more than one billion additional pounds of milk sold last year.²
But unfortunately you can not get much calcium from milk. Milk is flash pasteurized at 800 degrees, rendering the calcium unabsorbable. It is bound to casein, which is the wrong kind of protein, so has poor bioavailability. Humans, unlike calves, do not have the enzymes to separate casein from calcium.
Cow’s milk is also too high in phosphorus, and there is not enough magnesium. Pasteurization binds calcium to phosphorous, forming calcium phosphate, which is difficult to assimilate. It also destroys the nutrients that help calcium assimilation. This means that your body does not absorb the calcium in milk.
Cross-cultural data shows that most populations of the world have a lower intake of calcium than the United States and yet have lower rates of osteoporosis. There is no standard adequate calcium intake as it varies from culture to culture. All Americans, except for infants and young men, consume far less than the recommended calcium RDA.3 Also, as our vitamin D levels drop in the winter, so do our blood calcium levels.
The typical American diet that is high in meats (protein), refined grains (fat), sugar and soft drinks (high in phosphorus) leads to high acidity levels in the body. This leaches calcium and other minerals from the bones. See diet for osteoporosis.
Best Foods Containing Calcium
Best Vegetarian Sources of Calcium
1. Campbell, Colin, T. Ph.D. and Thomas M. The China Study. (United States: BenBella Books, 2004) 291-292
3. Brown, E. Susan Ph.D. Better Bones, Better Body, Beyond Estrogen and Calcium (Illinois, U.S.: Keats Publishing, 2000) 62-64, 84.