Calcium In Milk Vs Calcium In Vegetables


As we examine the calcium in milk vs calcium in vegetables issue, a few things become clear. First, there seems to be lots of confusion and disagreement among people about this topic. Many are not sure whether they can get sufficient calcium from vegetables. Others mistakenly believe that the human body cannot absorb calcium from plants.

Calcium In Milk Vs Calcium In Vegetables

Grocery store aisles are stocked with multiple different types of milk — from low-fat and skim milk to plant-based alternatives like almond and soy milk. While most types of milk have some calcium in them, their particular nutrition profiles can be very different.

Calcium absorption from foods

About 30 percent of the calcium in milk, cheese, and yogurt is absorbed. That’s a higher rate than from beans, spinach, and sweet potatoes, and a lower rate than from broccoli, kale, and bok choy.

Calcium bioavailability from plant foods is affected by their contents of oxalate and phytate, two naturally occurring compounds which interfere with the absorption of calcium. (Dairy foods contain neither.)

In general, the higher the oxalic acid content of a food, the lower the rate of calcium absorption. So calcium bioavailability is low from both American and Chinese varieties of spinach and rhubarb, intermediate from sweet potatoes, and high from low-oxalate vegetables such as kale, broccoli, and bok choy.

Dried beans, on the other hand, have a substantially lower calcium bioavailability because they’re rich in phytate. An exception to this generalization is soybeans, which are rich in both oxalate and phytate, yet have a relatively high calcium bioavailability.

Calcium content

But what also matters is the calcium content of the food to start with and that’s where dairy foods have an advantage. They contain a lot of calcium and this combined with a good absorption rate means that a serving of milk, cheese, or yogurt provides more absorbable calcium – about 100 mg —  than any other natural food.

Certainly, you can get the same amount of absorbable calcium from plant foods, but you’ll have to eat more than one serving of those foods. Four and a half servings of broccoli, two and a half of bok choy, three of kale, sixteen of spinach, for example.Clearly doable, but that doesn’t make dairy foods a mediocre source of calcium. (Of course, there are plenty of other reasons to include more plant foods in our diets, but we’re talking about just calcium absorption here.)

Milk of calcium (MOC) is a colloidal suspension of calcium salts occurring in calyceal cysts and diverticula. Although reported to be rare, in fact it seems to be more common than previously thought. It has characteristic appearances on plain x-rays, ultrasound, and CT imaging particularly in the prone and supine positions. Often entirely asymptomatic, its appearance may be mistaken for renal stones on radiography or angiomyolipomas on ultrasonography.

Your body holds an abundance of calcium. Around 99% of this mineral is stored in your bones and teeth. The other 1% is in your blood and soft tissues.Eating foods rich in calcium is critical to growing and maintaining strong bones. It’s also an important nutrient for healthy cell function. Your body requires calcium to support muscle and nerve function, regulate blood pressure and hormone levels, as well as facilitate communication between cells.Best Calcium Rich Vegetables List Available In India

Why You Need Calcium

Calcium is essential for nearly every process in the body. Your body can’t produce calcium. You need to get calcium through foods and supplements, but your body can better absorb it from food. Calcium is also present in some medications such as antacids. The recommended daily amount of calcium is 1,300 milligrams (mg) per day for adults, children, as well as pregnant and lactating women.

Calcium serves as a critical nutrient for:

Cellular Function

Your body maintains a certain level of calcium in your blood at all times, so that your cells can properly function. A dip in calcium blood levels will trigger your body to borrow calcium from your bones.

Bone Health

Your bones continually break down and rebuild. Before age 30, the rate that you build bone is higher than the rate that you break it down. Beyond age 30, the rates reverse. This is why people who are elderly have more brittle bones that are more at risk of breaking.

Osteoporosis occurs when there is an imbalance between bone building and bone breakdown. To lower your risk of developing osteoporosis, you should strive to make the strongest, densest bones before age 30. One way to prevent bone loss after age 30 is by consuming enough calcium. This will lessen the amount your body has to take from your bones.

Blood Pressure Control

Calcium helps blood vessels contract and relax, and is therefore needed to maintain healthy blood pressure. Recent studies show that to get this benefit, the calcium must be sourced from food rather than supplements.

Decreased Risk of Kidney Stones

Calcium also prevents kidney stones from forming by decreasing the absorption of oxalates, which are found in many plant foods like spinach, beets, raspberries, and sweet potatoes. Oxalates are associated with a higher risk of developing kidney stones. Only calcium from food — not supplements — can help reduce this risk.

Foods With Calcium

While many supplements are available, scientists recommend that at least half of your calcium intake should come from your diet.

These eight foods are some of the best sources of calcium available:

  1. Dairy products
    Products like milk, yogurt, and cheese are rich in calcium and also tend to be the best absorbed sources of it. Calcium is not absorbed as well from plant and fortified foods.
  2. Soybeans 
    Dry-roasted soybeans are a good source of calcium. A half-cup contains 230 mg of calcium, making them an excellent source of calcium for those who follow a vegan diet.
  3. Dark Green, Leafy Vegetables 
    Cooked kale, spinach, and collard greens are all good calcium sources. Collard greens having the highest amount: a half-cup provides 175 mg of calcium.
  4. Calcium-Fortified Foods
    Orange juice and cereals are often fortified with calcium. Calcium citrate malate is a well-absorbed form found in some fortified juices. There are also fortified cereals that provide as much as 1,000 mg of calcium per serving.
  5. Canned Salmon
    Aside from dairy products, canned salmon is one of the best dietary sources of calcium. Just 3 ounces of canned salmon provides 181 mg. Salmon also contains Vitamin D, which helps your body absorb more calcium.
  6. Figs 
    Five dried or fresh figs provide your body with 135 mg of calcium. Papayas and oranges are two other fruits high in calcium.
  7. Flour Tortillas
    Good news for carb lovers: one 10-inch flour tortilla provides you with 90 mg of calcium.
  8. Canned Baked Beans
    Four ounces of canned baked beans contain 160 mg of calcium. Beans also contain a lot of fiber.

Nutrients in milk

Cow milk is composed of a good balance of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. It is also a great source of many essential nutrients like:

  • Calcium
  • Vitamins A and D
  • Phosphorus
  • Riboflavin
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Niacin
  • Zinc

These minerals and high-quality mixed proteins boost bone formation and improve the body’s enzyme functions. To get a quick overview of the major nutrients in your milk, check the “Nutrition Facts” product labels on milk cartons.

Types of milk

Different types of milk contain different nutrients. They may also undergo different processing methods during manufacturing. Some sellers add additional vitamins and minerals to the milk.

Whole milk

Whole milk from cows was the gold standard for healthy and nutritious milk for decades. It is composed of about 88% water, 5% carbohydrates, 3% protein, 3% fat, and a considerable amount of minerals like potassium and phosphorus. An 8-ounce cup of whole milk has 276 mg of calcium, or 27% of your daily value. Whole-fat or full-fat milk also has significant saturated fats. The specific composition of whole milk depends on the breed of cow (Holstein or Jersey), its diet, and lactation stage.

Low-fat milk

Low-fat milk contains 1% fat as opposed to the 3.25% fat of whole milk. As fat has more calories by weight than any other nutrient, many dietitians and nutritionists recommend low-fat or skim milk options. Low-fat milk has a higher calcium content by weight than whole milk. An 8-ounce cup meets 29% of your daily value of calcium.

Skim or fat-free milk

Skim or no-fat milk has all of the milk fat removed from it. As a result, it has fewer calories and a higher percentage of calcium by weight. An 8-ounce cup of skim milk contains 325 mg of calcium, which is nearly a third of the daily adult calcium requirement. Skim milk also has higher amounts of vitamins than whole milk because of fortification.

Almond milk

Almond milk is a plant-based milk made by grinding almonds into an emulsion. When unsweetened it has much lower calories and sugarcompared to whole milk. Almond milk is also lactose-free and full of nutrients like iron, phosphorus, zinc, potassium, and magnesium. It is naturally high in calcium and is fortified with it as well. This makes almond milk a much better source of calcium than cow’s milk.

Soy milk

Soy milk is made by suspending fine particles of soy flour in water. It is a good source of protein, Vitamin A, and potassium and contains very little saturated fat. Soy milk is not naturally high in calcium but can be fortified to improve nutrition value. However, soy milk is not suitable for people who are allergic to soy in any form.

Rice milk

Rice milk is made from milled rice (white or brown) and is the milk least likely to cause allergies. It is an excellent option for people who are sensitive to dairy, soy, or nuts. Rice milk needs to be fortified in order to be a good source of calcium and vitamins. It is low in protein but high in sugar, carbohydrates, and calories.

Hemp milk

Hemp milk is the newest addition to plant-based milk products in the US. It is made from the seeds of the hemp plant, which is related to the cannabis plant. Hemp milk only contains trace amounts of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and will not cause a “high.” Hemp milk is by far the best alternative milk source of calcium. One 8-ounce serving contains 450 mg of calcium, which is 45% of the recommended daily allowance.

Pea milk, oat milk, cashew milk, and coconut milk are a few of the other varieties of milk available in the market today. They have different nutritional compositions and are usually fortified with several micronutrients.

Health benefits of milk
a woman pouring milk as she likes the benefits of it

What Is The Role Of Calcium In The Body?

Calcium ensures your bones strong by maintaining their density. Especially in aged people, Calcium can prevent bones from getting brittle, thereby reducing the chances of breakages and fractures. This mineral also plays a crucial role in blood coagulation and the regulation of muscle contractions. Calcium is also needed for the production of many important enzymes needed for good muscle strength. It is important to note that Calcium absorption is high only until 25-30 years of age. Beyond this age, you are very likely to be at risk of osteoporosis or bone fractures, as Calcium absorption gets low.

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