Friday, September 24, 2010

Where do you get your calcium?

Now that we have a long-term house guest living with us, we have some dairy products in our refrigerator. (I have no intention of forcing him to go vegan, although he eats mostly vegan food when he dines with us.) To my surprise, I haven't been tempted to eat/drink them. But my husband made a comment last night as he pours a glass of milk for himself, "I need to get my calcium."

Oh yes, that wonderful calcium is needed for stronger bones. But have you noticed how dairy consumption has been encouraged by our government? (You see it come with your kids school lunch.) Did you also know that the 11 person panel that drew up the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2000 included six members with financial ties to the dairy, meat and egg industries?

Here's some interesting facts/studies regarding calcium.
  • Researchers at Pennsylvania State University found that, in girls in their peak bone-building years (ages 12-18), getting extra calcium made no difference at all in bone growth.
  • Harvard reserchers found that, in a 12-year study of nearly 78.000 women, dairy calcium didn't help bone strength at all. Those who got the most calcium from a dairy source actually had nearly double the hip fracture rates, compared to those who got little or no dairy calcium. 
  • Osteoporosis is not a condition of inadequate calcium intake, for the most part. Rather, it is a condition of overly rapid calcium loss. Countries like Japan, China, and parts of Africa where dairy products are not traditionally used, bone breaks caused by osteoporosis are actually much more rare than in the U.S. and Europe.
Also, dairy consumption has been linked to cancer cell growth, asthma, allergies, rheumatoid arthritis, migraine headaches, diabetes, hormone imbalance and heart disease. (You can read more in 'Breaking the Food Seduction' and 'The Kind Diet'. Both are on my recommended book list.)

Okay, but we still need calcium, right? "Where do I get my calcium?" Check this out! This list tells you how many milligrams of calcium you can get from a 100-gram serving.
  • Butter -20mg
  • Whole milk - 118mg
  • Chickpeas - 150mg
  • Collard greens - 203mg
  • Parsley - 203mg
  • Soybeans - 226mg
  • Almonds - 234mg
  • Sesame seeds - 1160mg
  • Hijiki sea vegetable - 1400mg
I eat at least 1-2 things from this list everyday. Where do I get my calcium? The same place where I get my protein. From everything I eat!

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