Calcium on Healthy Plant-based Diets

Clips, quotes & links to reports about Calcium & Plant-Based Eating Vs Omnivore Diets – how to prevent or address nutritional deficiencies or dangerous excess; articles by doctors, dietitians & studies in science journals; regards omnivores, vegetarians & vegans.

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Short video clip by Dr Greger MD: “Plant vs. Cow Calcium.
Excerpt: “The #1 source of calcium in the American diet is dairy products. The #1 source of artery-clogging saturated fat is also dairy products; one of the top allergens in the U.S. food supply as well. So while cow’s milk represents a substantial source of calcium, it comes with a lot of baggage…
The calcium in dark green leafy vegetables like kale, broccoli, and bok choy is absorbed about twice as well as the calcium in milk—and there’s a bonus: fiber, folate, iron, antioxidants, and the bone-health superstar vitamin K. You won’t find any of those in milk. What you do get as a bonus to the calcium in milk is saturated butterfat, cholesterol, lactose, and antibiotics, pesticides, pus, and manure…”
Clip at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_CAqpBnd5E
Text at: https://nutritionfacts.org/video/plant-vs-cow-calcium-2/

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From an article in Permanente Journal co-authored by several medical doctors: “Calcium intake can be adequate in a well-balanced, carefully planned, plant-based diet… studies have shown that fracture risk was similar for vegetarians and nonvegetarians. The key to bone health is adequate calcium intake, which appears to be irrespective of dietary preferences. Some significant sources of calcium include tofu, mustard and turnip greens, bok choy, and kale…”
Reference: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3662288/

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Article: “The 20 Highest Calcium Vegan Foods.” Excerpts: “We’ve ranked the top legumes, seeds, nuts, and veggies to make getting enough of this important nutrient easy.” From lowest to highest they list:
20. Bok choy – Calcium: 79 mg per ½ cup (cooked)
19. Beet Greens – Calcium: 82 mg per 1/2 cup (cooked)
18. Almonds – Calcium: 82 mg per 1 ounce ser
17. Pinto Beans – Calcium: 86 mg per 1/2 cup serving (cooked)
16. Kale – Calcium: 90 mg per 1/2 cup (cooked)
15. White Beans – Calcium: 96 mg per 1/2 cup serving (cooked)
14. Tahitian Taro Root – Calcium: 102 mg per 1/2 cup serving (cooked)
13. Cowpeas – Calcium: 106 mg calcium per 1/2 cup serving (cooked)
12. Lambsquarters [a plant] – Calcium: 114 mg per 1/2 cup serving (cooked)
11. Nopales – Calcium: 122 mg per 1/2 cup serving (cooked)
10. Spinach – Calcium: 123 mg per 1/2 serving (cooked)
9. Turnip Greens – Calcium: 125 mg per 1/2 cup serving (cooked)
8. Edamame – Calcium: 131 mg per 1/2 cup serving (cooked)
7. Amaranth Leaves – Calcium: 138 mg per 1/2 cup serving (cooked)
6. Mustard Greens – Calcium: 142 mg per 1/2 cup serving (cooked)
5. Collard Greens – Calcium: 188 mg per 1/2 cup serving (cooked)
4. Tempeh – Calcium: 184 mg per 1 cup serving
3. Stinging Nettles – Calcium: 214 mg per 1/2 cup serving (cooked)
2. Sesame Seeds – Calcium: 273 mg per 1 ounce serving
1. Tofu – Calcium: 861 mg per 1/2 cup serving
Reference: https://www.prevention.com/food-nutrition/g20509654/the-20-highest-calcium-vegan-foods/

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From a 2014 report by Medical Doctors Ludwig & Willett: “Humans have no nutritional requirement for animal milk… many populations throughout the world today consume little or no milk… bone fracture rates tend to be lower in countries that do not consume milk compared with those that do. Moreover, milk consumption does not protect against fracture in adults, according to recent meta-analysis.”
Reference: “Three Daily Servings of Reduced-Fat Milk. An Evidence-Based Recommendation?” Pediatrics (a Journal of the American Medical Association), 2013;167(9):788-789; at https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/article-abstract/1704826

For many more science reports on the higher rates of disease associated with dairy consumption click that link to go to another page on this site.

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From the UK’s National Health Service – “Good sources of calcium for vegans include:
+ fortified, unsweetened soya, rice and oat drinks
+ calcium-set tofu
+ sesame seeds and tahini
+ pulses
+ brown and white bread (in the UK, calcium is added to white and brown flour by law)
+ dried fruit, such as raisins, prunes, figs and dried apricots…”
Source: https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Vegetarianhealth/Pages/Vegandiets.aspx

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From the Harvard School of Public Health: “studies suggest that high calcium intake doesn’t actually appear to lower a person’s risk for osteoporosis. For example, in the large Harvard studies of male health professionals and female nurses, individuals who drank one glass of milk (or less) per week were at no greater risk of breaking a hip or forearm than were those who drank two or more glasses per week. (2, 3) When researchers combined the data from the Harvard studies with other large prospective studies, they still found no association between calcium intake and fracture risk. (4) Also, the combined results of randomized trials that compared calcium supplements with a placebo showed that calcium supplements did not protect against fractures of the hip or other bones. Moreover, there was some suggestion that calcium supplements taken without vitamin D might even increase the risk of hip fractures. A 2014 study also showed that higher milk consumption during teenage years was not associated with a lower risk of hip fracture in older adults…” See below for more from this report.
Reference: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/calcium-full-story/

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Dr John McDougall MD, a short clip “Where do you get your Calcium if not from Dairy products?” at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hh05yCLzhC4

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From a report titled “Calcium in Plant-Based Diets” by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, some excerpts: “there are many other good sources of calcium that can be found in a plant-based diet.
Keeping your bones strong depends more on preventing the loss of calcium from your body than on boosting your calcium intake.
Some cultures consume few or no dairy products and typically ingest fewer than 500 milligrams of calcium per day. However, these people generally have low rates of osteoporosis. Many scientists believe that exercise and other factors have more to do with osteoporosis than calcium intake does…
The “Calcium in Foods” chart on the left side of this page gives the amount of calcium found in some excellent plant sources. A quick glance shows how easy it is to meet calcium needs. The sample menus each provide approximately 1,000 milligrams of calcium…”
For the chart see https://www.pcrm.org/health/diets/vsk/vegetarian-starter-kit-calcium
For the sample menus see https://www.pcrm.org/health/diets/vsk/vegetarian-starter-kit-tips#menus

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Short clip by Dr Greger MD: “Are Calcium Supplements Safe?”
Summary: “The unnaturally large, rapid, and sustained calcium levels in the blood caused by calcium supplements may explain why calcium from supplements, but not from food, appears to increase the risk of heart attacks…”
Clip at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KEiUVzCIXJU
Text at: https://nutritionfacts.org/video/are-calcium-supplements-safe/

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From the Dietitians Association of Australia:Some good plant sources of calcium are calcium-fortified soy or almond milks, hard tofu, almonds, unhulled tahini (sesame seed paste) and green leafy vegetables like kale and Asian greens (e.g. bok choy, Chinese broccoli)…”
Source: https://daa.asn.au/smart-eating-for-you/smart-eating-fast-facts/healthy-eating/vegan-diets-facts-tips-and-considerations/

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Dr Greger clip “Are Calcium Supplements Effective?” at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OuiGrT6aSvQ
Summary: “The unnaturally large, rapid, and sustained calcium levels in the blood caused by calcium supplements may explain why calcium from supplements, but not from food, appears to increase the risk of heart attacks.”
Text at
https://nutritionfacts.org/video/are-calcium-supplements-safe/

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Osteoporosis Australia lists “Tofu Firm” as having the highest amount of calcium per serve, from 40+ food items. For comparison:
Food … Calcium/serve (mg)
Tofu firm … 832
[Cow] Milk … 520 (reduced fat, calcium fortified)
Yoghurt … 386 (regular natural)
Regular [cow] milk … 304
Reference: “Calcium Food Table Web” PDF document at http://www.osteoporosis.org.au/sites/default/files/files/calcium-food-table-web.pdf

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Short clip by Dr Greger MD: “Lead in Calcium Supplements.
Excerpt: “Do calcium citrate and calcium carbonate have as much lead as calcium supplements derived from dolomite and animal bone?… Where did the lead come from?… when you eat supplements made out of bones, you can get exposed… this inspired a comprehensive survey of the “Lead content [of] 70 [different] brands of calcium supplements.” And, “lead levels…varied by almost 300-fold,” some of which were two, three, or even four times the tolerable daily intake of lead for children—especially the most common: “natural source calcium,” like oyster shell, with more than half exceeding the benchmark for children… But, the good news is that after decades of concern, lead levels in calcium supplements have come down—so much so that lead level changes in your blood, taking the average lead-contaminated calcium supplement, would be “minimal” at this point…”
Clip at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OxOK0qERZkI
Text at: https://nutritionfacts.org/video/lead-in-calcium-supplements/

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This site contains pages with hundreds of science reports on the higher rates of disease & death associated with eating red meat, dairy, chicken/poultry, eggs, fish/seafood & of the lower rates associated with eating healthy plant-based diets high in fruits & vegetables & nuts.

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From the Harvard School of Public Health a report titled “Calcium: What’s Best for Your Bones and Health?” Some excerpts:
“When most people in the United States think of calcium, they immediately think of milk. But should this be so? Milk is actually only one of many sources of calcium—dark leafy green vegetables and some types of legumes are among the other sources—and there are some important reasons why milk may not be the best source for everyone. These reasons include the following:
Lactose Intolerance.
Many people have some degree of lactose intolerance. For them, eating or drinking dairy products causes problems like cramping, bloating, gas, and diarrhea. These symptoms can range from mild to severe. Certain groups are much more likely to have lactose intolerance. For example, 90 percent of Asians, 70 percent of blacks and Native Americans, and 50 percent of Hispanics are lactose intolerant, compared to only about 15 percent of people of Northern European descent…
High Saturated Fat Content.
Many dairy products are high in saturated fats, and a high saturated fat intake is a risk factor for heart disease. And while it’s true that most dairy products are now available in fat-reduced or nonfat options, the saturated fat that’s removed from dairy products is inevitably consumed by someone, often in the form of premium ice cream, butter, or baked goods.
Strangely, it’s often the same people who purchase these higher fat products who also purchase the low-fat dairy products, so it’s not clear that they’re making great strides in cutting back on their saturated fat consumption…
Possible Increased Risk of Ovarian Cancer.
High levels of galactose, a sugar released by the digestion of lactose in milk, have been studied as possibly damaging to the ovaries and leading to ovarian cancer… A recent pooled analysis of 12 prospective cohort studies, which included more than 500,000 women, found that women with high intakes of lactose—equivalent to that found in 3 cups of milk per day—had a modestly higher risk of ovarian cancer, compared to women with the lowest lactose intakes. (15)…
Probable Increased Risk of Prostate Cancer.
A diet high in calcium has been implicated as a probable risk factor for prostate cancer. (17) In a Harvard study of male health professionals, men who drank two or more glasses of milk a day were almost twice as likely to develop advanced prostate cancer as those who didn’t drink milk at all. (18)… A more recent analysis of the Harvard study participants found that men with the highest calcium intake—at least 2,000 milligrams a day—had nearly double the risk of developing fatal prostate cancer as those who had the lowest intake (less than 500 milligrams per day). (19)
Clearly, although more research is needed, we cannot be confident that high milk or calcium intake is safe…”
They also state: “Vitamin K, which is found mainly in green, leafy vegetables, likely plays one or more important roles in calcium regulation and bone formation. Low levels of circulating vitamin K have been linked with low bone density, and supplementation with vitamin K shows improvements in biochemical measures of bone health. (8) A report from the Nurses’ Health Study suggests that women who get at least 110 micrograms of vitamin K a day are 30 percent less likely to break a hip than women who get less than that. (9) Among the nurses, eating a serving of lettuce or other green, leafy vegetable a day cut the risk of hip fracture in half when compared with eating one serving a week. Data from the Framingham Heart Study also shows an association between high vitamin K intake and reduced risk of hip fracture in men and women, and increased bone mineral density in women. (10, 11) Getting one or more servings per day of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, dark green lettuce, collard greens, or kale should be enough to meet the daily recommended target of 120 micrograms per day for men and 90 micrograms per day for women…”
Reference: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/calcium-full-story/

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Death by Calcium – Proof of the Toxic Effects of Dairy and Calcium Supplements” a lecture by Dr Tom Levy MD, presented by the Silicon Valley Health Institute on May 15th, 2014; at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwi9iZvudXA

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Dr Berg DC “The Dangerous State of Too Much CALCIUM!” (9:13) Summary: “There is such a thing as excessive calcium, called hypercalcemia. In this video Dr. Berg describes the many problems that can occur from this. If you get this tested with your doctor, make sure they do an ionized calcium test…” at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFjuHpnCrZA

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For more video clips by Dr Michael Greger about calcium see
https://nutritionfacts.org/?fwp_search=calcium&fwp_content_type=video

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For more science reports on the diseases that are associated with consuming dairy products click that link to go to another page on this site.

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More to Come!

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This set of articles were compiled for

www.EatingOurFuture.com

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