CALCIUM - and Cow's Milk

The Dairy Industry here in Australia is a "primary" industry and as such is supported and protected by the Australian Government.  What you are about to read is not meant to be judgemental of the industry, but merely provides information and alternative sources of calcium to the people out there, like myself, who are intolerant to dairy.



The composition of our mother's breast milk and cow's milk is totally different.  There is approximately three times more protein in cow's milk than there is in breast milk making it very hard for us to digest.  Have you ever thought about the fact that once a baby cow is weaned it never drinks milk again and yet once humans are weaned off the breast we are immediately introduced to cow's milk?  I am sure the enzymes in our stomach aren't really designed to be breaking down another animal's high-protein milk.  The potential for kidney disease is also increased in big milk drinkers. 


Most milking cows these days are fed antibiotics and genetically-engineered growth hormones designed to increase milk production.  We all know that cow's milk is very high calcium, with approximatwly 300mcg per cup.  What we don't all realise, however, is that the extensive processing that takes place between cow and supermarket shelf destroys this calcium.  When milk is pasteurised, the heating process destroys the naturally occurring calcium, so they then have to add a synthetic form back in.  This synthetic form of calcium is often not as easily absorbed.  Pasteurisation also destroys the naturally occurring enzymes that help us to digest the nutrients in milk, such as lactase to help assimilate lactose and phosphatase to help with calcium absorption. 

Consuming too much processed cow's milk can be quite damaging to the body - it acidifies the body's pH levels which in turn results in calcium being removed from the bone and taken into the circulation to act as a buffer (calcium is alkaline so it reduces the acidity).  The calcium is then passed out with the urine and you're left with even less calcium in you bones than before. 


  • Restless legs
  • Numbness, pins & needles, tingling
  • Cramps
  • "Stitches" when running
  • Growing pains in children
  • Sleep disturbances - trouble getting &/or staying asleep
  • Palpitations

  • Rice milk contains less than 1 milligram of Calcium and almond milk about 2 milligrams so you are not going to obtain your recommended daily allowances from either of these.  Whilst soy milk contains about 50mg of calcium, I don't recommend it due to it's oestrogenic effects and the fact that it is genetically-engineered.  A lot of people who are unable to tolerate cow's milk, whether it be due to an intolerance to lactose or trouble breaking down the casein naturally occurring in cow's milk; are worried about their calcium levels and their bone health.  They seem to think that milk is the only way to get calcium into their diets, and who can blame them when we've all ben told from preschool age to "drink our milk to grow stong bones"!  So where do mummy cows get their calcium from? Grass! (well, if they are lucky enough to be grass-fed cows and not grain-fed as so many unfortunately are these days)

  • For us humans, dark green leafy vegetables are a great source of calcium - especially kale.  Other sources include small fish with bones such as salmon and sardines and sesame seeds (Tahini spread is great).  Almonds, soy beans, hazelnuts, parsley, chickpeas, lentils, raisins, pumpkin seeds, macadamia nuts and cashews are also good food sources of calcium.

  • For those lovers of dairy out there, don't fret just yet!  Fermented forms of cow's milk such as plain, unsweetened yoghurt and kefir are acid-neutral so won't strip calcium from your bones.  Plus they contain all sorts of beneficial enzymes and friendly bacteria.  If you are a milk lover, why not consider almond or rice milk as an alternative, bearing in mind however that neither of these are to be used as your primary source of calcium.  I use rice milk in the same way as cow's milk is used when making recipes calling for milk.

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  • The RDA for Calcium in Australia is:

Children aged one to three years of age - 500mg

Children aged four to eight years of age 800mg

Adolescents aged eight to fourteen years of age 1300mg

Adults aged nineteen to fifty - 1000mg

Mature adults aged over fifty-one - 1200mg

If you need a calcium supplement, you need to be a bit careful with how much you take.  Consuming too much calcium can be very dangerous and can increase your risk of osteoporosis rather than prevent it.  You also need to choose a calcium supplement that contains synergistic nutrients to help with absorption such as Magnesium, Silica, Vitamin D and Boron.  Calcium, as with all minerals, is bound to different compounds depending on the form it takes (for example - calcium hydroxyapatie, calcium phosphate, calcium citrate) and it is important to choose the right type of calcium for your requirments so please consult your Health Care Provider.  Dolomite is no longer considered an absorbable form of calcium for the human body.  Calcium carbonate is generally considered to be a form that the body doesn't recognize and instead of being taken into the bones where it is needed, it sits on the outside of the bone as a deposit such as foot spurs and kidney stones. 

Calcium also requires magnesium in a 2:1 ratio to be effectively absorbed and one of the most common mineral deficiencies that I see in cinic is a magnesium deficiency.  This is one of the biggest reasons that I personally feel is responsible for at least some of the calcium deficiency problems.  A magnesium deficiency is easily detected in Iridology by a fluctuating pupil, stress rings and or wiggly fibres in the iris.  Magnesium is required to help the body deal with stress, it helps the nervous system to function and enables proper muscle relaxation.  Symptoms of magnesium deficiency may include anxiety, twitching or muscle spasms, tense shoulders.


Calcium also needs an acidic environment in order to be absorbed so if you have low stomach acid then you will struggle to absorb this mineral.  Calcium and iron compete for binding sites in the gut so don't take them at the same time, in other words, don't wash you iron supplement dow with a glass of milk.  Calcium can be quite "drying" to the bowel so if you are a little constipated it would be worth looking at your calcium intake and increasing your intake of oils such as flaxseed.  Calcium is best taken at night before bed. 



Date posted: 2013-10-18 | posted by: debras

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