Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Great Calcium Debate Part #1


So lately I have been a bit concerned about my calcium intake considering I am dairy free.

I know quite a few of you are in the same boat.   So I have been scouring the internet as well as put a plea out on twitter for some advice and I got a few responses, and found a few good websites.

Up first Char from Char’s Kitchen

please note – these are all personal opinions, based on personal research.  What works for one person, might not work for the rest.


Drink your milk! Eat your yogurt. Don't you want to grow up big and strong? You need dairy for calcium.

I'm quite confident that all of you have heard the above statements many times in your life. As a vegan I am constantly receiving questions about my calcium sources, as well as how I make sure to get enough.'s some food for thought. Ever notice that North America and the UK are the highest consumers of dairy? And then did you notice that we also have the highest rates of osteoporosis? If we're consuming so much calcium, then why are we lacking it in our bones?

Acidic vs. Alkaline

Our bodies try to remain in an alkaline state, but it makes it hard for them when we consistently consume highly acidic foods. Which foods are alkaline? All fruits and vegetables (the acid in oranges/ pineapple/ etc. does not create an acidic environment in the body). Nuts, seeds, and grains are slightly acidic, and are best eaten in moderation. Which foods are highly acidic? Meat, dairy, sugar, alcohol, caffeine, and processed foods.

Quality, not quantity.

Where you get your calcium from is more important than how much you consume.
About two years ago, I let my health fall to the wayside. Though I was eating a vegan diet, it was not a healthy vegan diet. It lacked fruits and veggies, and I consumed a lot of processed foods and coffee. I was sick all of the time, and constantly had foot cramps and stomach cramps. After ending up with a painful Charlie Horse in my backside that left me quite crippled for days, I learned I was calcium-deficient. At the time, I started to take a calcium supplement. As well, I was practically eating Tums throughout each day. In total, I was probably consuming about 3-4 days worth of calcium each day. And guess what? It didn't help. Because it wasn't the calcium my body could use.

Milk contains a lot of calcium...but your body can't absorb it. Because of its high protein content, as well as the acidic environment it creates in the body, milk actually leaches calcium from your bones. When we consume dairy, our bodies become acidic. In order to neutralize its ph balance, the body will pull calcium from the bones. When we choose to opt for alkaline foods as opposed to acidic, we don't need to worry about counting how much calcium we are consuming, because our bodies don't lose any of it.

So what do I do now that is different? I cut back on caffeine (though I enjoy the occasional chocolate treats and Americanos), and I consume a diet of mostly fruits and veggies. Tossing spinach into my fruit smoothies helps to up my calcium intake, and I also enjoy a lot of steamed brussel sprouts and broccoli, as well as kale salads. Making sure to get your greens is key, as well as sticking to alkaline foods and minimal acidic foods.

This does not mean all or nothing.
I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I enjoy a vegan cupcake made with white flour and sugar, or a chocolate bar, or a soy latte with extra espresso here and there. But these are indulgences, and I make sure to focus on what my body needs. As long as you're eating right MOST of the can afford to be a little naughty the rest of the time ;)

For more information on this topic, I highly recommend the following books:
The China Study by T. Colin Campbell
The Thrive Diet by Brendan Brazier

Cheers to health!
peace, love, food <3
Char, xo


  1. Great post! As a vegan, I feel like "where do you get your calcium?" is becoming the new "but where do you get your protein?" I think people have just been brainwashed to believe that dairy is the only place you can get it, outside of supplements.

  2. I love both of those books (A LOT)...and I hear the calcium debate all the time among my clients. Sometimes I think I should just record myself explaining how to get calcium without dairy...and just play it over and over!

    Great info :)

  3. Really interesting post. I very rarely eat dairy, so I worry about this a lot. Good to hear it's about more than just drinking my milk!

  4. I use Almond Milk in my smoothies, and I have read the calcium content on the label, and it is the same as the milk in my fridge!!

    I bought "The China Study" and can't wait to start reading it!!!!

  5. I found you through Jolene's blog -I am removing dairy from my diet right now to see if it helps my complexion. Very interesting post. When I told friends/family that I was eliminating dairy from my diet for a month, some people sort of attacked me about it and said it's not healthy and blah blah blah. Anyways, very interesting to think about the amount of dairy we consume & our high osteoporosis rate!

  6. Just wanted to say your blog is really good. I usually like to hear one thing new about this due to the fact I have the similar blog in my Nation on this subject so this help´s me a lot. I did a search over a subject matter and discovered a good variety of blogs but practically nothing like this.Thanks for sharing so a lot within your blog.


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