Calcium Added To Milk


Can calcium be added to milk? You mean fortified milk? Usually, when you read an article, they will mention that yes, we can add calcium to milk. But what if this wasn’t always possible? Well in the past, it wasn’t. Back in the early 1900s, people didn’t have the technology that we have today. They had to make due with the tools they had on hand.

Calcium Added To Milk

How Much Calcium is in Milk?

Couple canoeing in the lake on a summer day. Man and woman in two different kayaks in the lake on a sunny day.

You know you need calcium for strong, healthy bones, right? And if you’re like a lot of Americans, you rely on milk for the bulk of your dietary calcium.

But how much calcium is actually in milk?

Now, you may have heard rumors that cow’s milk can cause osteoporosis. But our resident Bone Health Expert, Lara Pizzorno, compiled all the research and wrote an in-depth post debunking this milk calcium myth.

Even so, cow’s milk isn’t your only option in the milk aisle nowadays. There are many milk options from a variety of different sources to suit every dietary need. But how do these options stack up against cow’s milk in the calcium department? Let’s find out!

Comparing Milk and Milk Alternatives: Almond, Rice, Soy, Coconut, and Goat Milk

We’re going to compare the nutritional value of traditional cow’s milk with five alternatives; almond milk, rice milk, soy milk, coconut milk, and goat’s milk.

Dairy and Soy Amount     Calcium (mg)   
Milk (skim, low fat, whole) 1 cup 300
Buttermilk 1 cup 300
Cottage Cheese 0.5 cup 65
Ice Cream or Ice Milk 0.5 cup 100
Sour Cream, cultured 1 cup 250
Soy Milk, calcium fortified 1 cup 200 to 400
Yogurt 1 cup 450
Yogurt drink 12 oz 300
Carnation Instant Breakfast 1 packet 250
Hot Cocoa, calcium fortified 1 packet 320
Nonfat dry milk powder 5 Tbsp 300
Brie Cheese 1 oz 50
Hard Cheese (cheddar, jack) 1 oz 200
Mozzarella 1 oz 200
Parmesan Cheese 1 Tbsp 70
Swiss or Gruyere 1 oz 270

Milk and milk alternatives: Nutrition comparison per 1 cup

*You may have noticed the value of calcium in almond milk is 0. We thought that was strange too, but it turns out virtually all the calcium in almond milk is added by the manufacturer. You can read more about these “fortified milks” toward the bottom of this page.
Calcium (mg) Protein (g) Total Fat (g) Sugar (g) Total Carbs (g) Calories (kcal)
Cow’s Milk, Whole 300 7.99 9.0 11 11 161
Cow’s Milk, 2% 300 8.0 5.0 12 12 123
Cow’s Milk, 1% 300 8.0 2.5 12 12 102
Cow’s Milk, skim 300 8.0 0 13 12 86
Almond Milk (unsweetened) 0* 1.01 3.49 0 1.99 45
Rice Milk (unsweetened) 283 0.67 2.33 12.7 22 113
Soy Milk 300 6.34 3.59 1.99 8.91 105
Coconut Milk Beverage (unsweetened) 130 0.0 4.1 0.0 1.99 45.6
Goat’s Milk 300 7.99 2.50 10.99 10.99 101

Cow’s Milk

calcium in cow's milk

Cow’s milk has been the go-to source of calcium for decades. And despite the surge in popularity of milk alternatives, cow’s milk still dominates milk sales in the United States. Reports show that dairy milk raked in $16.2 billion in 2017, and cow’s milk makes up the vast majority of that figure.

How much calcium is in cow’s milk?

Whole, 2%, 1%, and skim milk all provide similar amounts of calcium per cup –– about 300 mg. For reference, the recommended daily intake of calcium is 1,000 mg for women under 51 and men under 71. For women over 51 and men over 71, it’s 1200 mg.

Pros of Cow’s Milk Cons of Cow’s Milk
High in calcium Lots of people are allergic to cow’s milk. Most commonly it’s because of two specific proteins– casein and whey
It contains 18 of 22 essential nutrients in one convenient glass Not suitable for a lot of people with dietary restrictions or choices
Very versatile ingredient Questionable practices. There are concerns over how some dairy farms produce cow’s milk

Almond Milk

calcium in almond milk

Almond milk has become extremely popular in America in the last decade or so. Research shows almond milk now holds a 64% market share of non-dairy milk sales. And those sales are worth an estimated annual total of $2.11 billion!

Almond milk is made by blending almonds with water. The mixture then goes through a strainer to remove the pulp, which leaves the ‘milk’ behind. Some almond milk manufacturers will also add thickening agents like carrageenan (a seaweed derivative). Watch out for sweetened versions of almond milk though. They have a lot of added sugar!

How much calcium is in almond milk?

There’s actually quite a lot of calcium in almonds, but almond milk contains next to no calcium (naturally) as it’s lost during the manufacturing process. So many brands offer calcium-fortified almond milk– that means they add extra calcium to the milk.

But it’s always a good idea to check the label to see which type of calcium is added. Often times, it’s a rock-based calcium your body can’t absorb very well. (We’ve got a whole section on fortified milks toward the bottom of this page.)

A cup of almond milk also contains:

  • 1.01 grams of protein
  • 3.49 grams of fat
  • 0 grams of sugar
  • 1.99 grams of carbohydrates
  • 161 calories
Pros of Almond Milk Cons of Almond Milk
Very low in sugar and fat Very little natural calcium and protein content
100% vegan Not suitable for people with nut allergies
Contains no lactose. And lactose could be bad for your bones. Often contains a lot of unnatural sweeteners (look out for unsweetened varieties)

Rice Milk

calcium in rice milk

Rice milk is a naturally sweet alternative to cow’s milk. It’s made by blending partially milled rice with water. And during this process, the carbohydrates in the rice break down into sugars. That’s where the sweetness comes from!

On a less sweet note, rice milk tends to contain traces of arsenic. You see, arsenic is present in the environment, and rice absorbs more of it than other cereal crops. So it’s advised that infants and toddlers shouldn’t consume rice milk.

How much calcium is in rice milk?

Rice milk contains about 283 mg of calcium per cup. Not far off the 300 mg of calcium per cup cow’s milk provides!

A cup of rice milk also contains:

  • 0.67 grams of protein
  • 2.33 grams of fat
  • 12.67 grams of sugar
  • 22.01 grams of carbohydrates
  • 113 calories
Pros of Rice Milk Cons of Rice Milk
One of the least allergenic milk alternatives Provides very little protein
Naturally sweet flavor Not suitable for infants
Low in fat Contains a lot of carbohydrates, so may not be suitable for diabetics

Soy Milk

calcium in soy milk

As the name suggests, soy milk comes from soybeans. The milk is produced by soaking and grinding the beans and boiling the mixture. The final step is filtering the liquid to produce the end product.

Research shows that soy milk delivers the most balanced nutritional value of all cow milk alternatives! Plus, soy milk is naturally lactose-free. So it’s a great alternative for people who are lactose-intolerant. But unsweetened soy milk is an acquired taste, especially for people used to the taste of cow’s milk. Plus, soybean is the most genetically modified crop in the world! In fact, 94% of soy acreage in the United States is genetically modified. And genetically modified organisms (GMO) are linked with health and environmental issues. So if you opt for soy milk, it’s best to go organic — as organic means it’s also non-GMO!

How much calcium is in soy milk?

Soy milk only contains 300 mg of calcium per cup.

A cup of soy milk also contains:

  • 9.00 grams of protein
  • 4.51 grams of fat
  • 1.99 grams of sugar
  • 4.01 grams of carbohydrates
  • 91 calories
Pros of Soy Milk Cons of Soy Milk
Lactose-free Soy is a common allergen
The most balanced nutritional value of all cow milk alternatives An acquired taste
Contains lots of isoflavones, which improve blood pressure Most soybean crops in the United States are genetically modified

Coconut Milk Beverage

calcium in coconut milk

Coconut milk in a drinking sense is often referred to as coconut milk beverage. And it’s different to the canned coconut milk you might have used before in the kitchen. Both are made from the white, fleshy part of a mature, brown coconut. (Coconut water comes from unmatured green coconuts). The flesh of the coconut is shredded, simmered in water, and strained. The mix then separates into a rich, creamy layer and a liquid layer beneath. These two layers together are what you’ll find in canned coconut milk for cooking. But for coconut milk beverage, the creamy layer is skimmed off.

Now, coconut milk contains a lot of unsaturated fat compared to other types of milk. But it’s not all bad news! Coconut milk contains a type of fat called medium-chain triglyceride. And studies show this type of fat can help prevent obesity. So with all that in mind, consider using this type of milk in moderation.

How much calcium is in coconut milk?

Coconut milk contains a modest amount of calcium naturally. But like other milk alternatives, calcium-fortified options are available.

A cup of coconut milk also contains:

  • 0 grams of protein (this is also a common addition to fortified options)
  • 4.01 grams of fat
  • 0.0 grams of sugar
  • 1.99 grams of carbohydrates
  • 45.6 calories
Pros of Coconut Milk Beverage Cons of Coconut Milk Beverage
Contains healthy fats that can promote weight loss The high-fat content can be an issue if consumed in large quantities
Fortified options often contain high amounts of vitamins A and D Provides very little calcium and protein naturally
Coconut isn’t actually a nut, so allergies aren’t a common issue Some of the thickening agents in coconut milk can cause digestive issues for some people

Goat Milk

calcium in goat milk

You might not think of goats when it comes to milk sources, but outside the Western world, goat’s milk is widely consumed! And as far as nutritional value goes, goat’s and cow’s milk are very similar. In fact, the calcium values are pretty much identical. Goat’s milk also tends to be easier to digest than cow’s milk too, because it has smaller protein particles and contains less lactose.

How much calcium is in goat’s milk?

Goat’s milk contains 300 mg of calcium per cup. That’s the same as cow’s milk.

A cup of goat’s milk also contains:

  • 7.99 grams of protein
  • 2.50 grams of fat
  • 10.99 grams of sugar
  • 10.99 grams of carbohydrates
  • 101 calories
Pros of Goat’s Milk Cons of Goat’s Milk
Easier to digest than cow’s milk Very distinct smell and taste
High in calcium Harder to come by in supermarkets and is often expensive as a result
Less allergenic than cow’s milk

Fortified Milks

You may remember we mentioned fortified milks a little earlier on this page. So what are they exactly, and what do you need to know about them?

Well, fortified milk is a milk product the manufacturer has added an essential nutrient to. Cow’s milk is typically fortified with vitamins A and D.

Vitamin A is fat-soluble, and is naturally present in cow’s milk. But vitamin A is lost during the production of skim or skimmed milk, so it’s actually a legal requirement to add it to these products. As for vitamin D, it helps your body to absorb the calcium your consuming in the milk.

It’s not just cow’s milk that can be fortified, though. The alternative milks we’ve discussed on this page are often fortified too. But these fortified milks contain added calcium to make their nutritional value similar to that of cow’s milk. Is it too good to be true though? Check out the video below to see if fortified milks are a good source of calcium…

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