Calcium is a vital mineral and essential for bone and teeth formation, muscle growth, heart function, blood clotting and nerve transmission, therefore adequate and appropriate forms of calcium are paramount for healthy functioning body. The key message I will reiterate over and over again is that calcium is important NOT DAIRY.
Large dairy corporations have spent millions of dollars marketing their products to use and their well designed and carefully constructed ads have us all believing that in order to achieve our daily quota of calcium we must eat dairy. However, a growing body of researching is mounting which links cow’s milk to an array of diseases.
- High dairy consumption during pregnancy is associated with pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy). Now I would like to reiterate that this relates to dairy consumption not calcium. In fact calcium has found to decrease the likelihood of pre-eclampsia (1). Mothers who are at risk of pre-eclampsia should source non dairy calcium alternatives such as spinach (100 g contains 160 mg of calcium), almonds (100 g contains 240 mg of calcium) and tahini paste (contains 680 mg of calcium. To put this into perspective 100 ml of cow’s milk only contains 115 mg of calcium.
- The process of pasteurisation has been shown to distort the three dimensional shape of the proteins in milk, converting them into foreign proteins that can be harmful to your body. The heating of milk alters the amino acids lysine and tyrosine, thereby altering protein digestion (2).
- Pasteurisation destroys beneficial enzymes and bacteria that aid in digestion of milk. For example, lactase which is essential for the absorption of lactose is destroyed during pasteurisation. Also phosphatase needed for calcium absorption is also destroyed. In fact studies have shown that with phosphatase, we are unable to absorbed the calcium from milk (2).
- The heating of the milk, destroys saturated milk fats, increasing free radical damage (2).
- Vitamin B12 and B6 is also destroyed during this processes as is 50% of the vitamin C content and 80% of other water soluble vitamins (2).
- Pasteurised milk also has chemicals added to it to suppress the odour and improve taste.
- Casein, the protein in milk, irritates the immune system, stimulates mucous production and aggravates exiting conditions of chronic bronchitis, sinusitis and ear infections (3).
- Researchers have found that if allergies run in the family, the potential allergens should be avoided especially during the last trimester and lactation to prevent an early allergy in the child.
- Early introduction of cow’s milk in susceptible children, has been found to trigger the onset of juvenile diabetes, asthma, eczema, and a variety of allergic conditions (4).
- Most adults are unable to digest lactose, this is because we grow as bodies stop making the enzyme lactase which is needed to break down lactose.
- Countries with the highest dairy consumption in world also have the highest incidence of osteoporosis (2).
- Longitudinal studies have shown that casein in fact leeches calcium from our body. A publication in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition clearly demonstrates that 18 years of milk consumption did not help prevent hip fractures in post-menopausal women (5).
- The acidic nature of dairy promotes bone loss (6).
- Dairy products commonly contain small quantities of antibiotics, steroid hormones and pesticides all shown to weaken our immune system.
If you want strong bones, don’t drink milk. Period.
By Megan Maitland
- Braun L. Cohen M. Herbs and Natural Supplements An evidence-based guide. 2nd edition. Marrickville: Elseview; 2007.
- Weisnier R. Dairy foods and bone health: examination of the evidence. Am J Clin Nutrit. 2000: 72(3): 681-9
- Cohen R. Milk, The Deadly Poison. Englewood Cliffs; Angus Publishing; 1998.
- Lovegrove JA. et.al. Dietary factors influencing levels of food antibodies and antigens in breast milk. Acta Paeiatr. 1996;85(7):778-84.
- Harvard Nurses Study. Am J Clin Nutri. 1980;128(): 1051-3.
- Breslau NA. et.al Relationship of animal protein rich diet to kidney stone formation and calcium metabolism. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1988;66(1):140-6.