That’s right, in spite of what the Dairy Council would have you believe, dairy products do not promote bone health. In fact, the Dairy Council’s own studies show just the opposite. The digestion process of animal proteins like dairy products take more calcium out of your body than they provide. All those food pyramid posters we had in grade school were paid for by the Dairy and Beef Councils. Will our schools ever be able to educate our children about the dangers of beef and dairy? Probably not. Not as long as politicians can be funded by the powerful Dairy and Beef Councils. So, it is up to each of us to be responsible and feed our families, vegetables, whole grains and fruit. If we were to do that, not only would we build strong bones, we could end obesity! Think beans and greens for strong bones.

Think about it. Where do cows get their calcium that shows up in their mile? From grass! Elephants are drinking their milk or any other animals milk. If vegetation can build one of the largest animals on earth, then it surely can handle us humans.

Dairy Products Do Not Promote Bone Health

Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine (PCRM), March 19, 2012: Dairy products and calcium do not prevent stress fractures, according to a new study published in Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. Researchers followed adolescent girls for seven years, tracking their diets, physical activity, and stress fractures. Girls consuming the most dairy products and calcium had no added protection. In fact, among the most active girls—exercising more than one hour per day—those who got the most calcium in their diets (coming mostly from dairy products) had more than double the risk of a stress fracture, compared with those getting less calcium. Researchers found that vitamin D intake did help cut risk. Girls getting the most vitamin D had half the risk of a fracture, compared with girls getting less vitamin D.

Read Dairy Products Do Not Promote Bone Health

Calcium from Plant Sources

Children and adults lose calcium from the body every day, so we need to replenish it. Healthful calcium sources are “beans and greens.” Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collards, kale, mustard greens, turnip greens, and others are loaded with highly absorbable calcium and a host of other important nutrients. While these foods have a smaller amount of calcium per serving compared to dairy products, they have more calcium per calorie, and the calcium they contain is absorbed nearly twice as well as the calcium in cow’s milk.12

One cup of cooked kale, for example, has the same amount of absorbable calcium (100 milligrams) as one cup of cow’s milk with less than half the calories. Beans are a good source of calcium, too. Choose from baked beans, chickpeas, tofu, or other bean products, and you will find a taste to please every palate. Just a few ounces of tofu, a bowl of vegetable chili or creamy Broccoli Potato Soup will provide your child with another healthful helping of absorbable calcium.

If you are looking for a concentrated calcium source, calcium-fortified orange and apple juices as well as enriched soy and rice milks contain 300 milligrams or more of calcium per cup in a highly absorbable form. Your child only needs two-thirds of a cup of fortified orange juice, one cup of fortified soymilk, or one-third cup of Total Plus cereal to get the same amount of absorbable calcium as a small carton of cow’s milk. Children readily enjoy tasty and healthy treats made with these calcium-rich foods, such as Orange Power Pops or cereal topped with berries and rice milk.

Protein from Animal Sources

In 1992, a researcher from Yale University studying animal protein intake and hip fracture rates in 16 countries around the world found that those with the highest meat, fish, egg, and dairy product consumption had the most fractures.14 They speculated that protein from animal products might stimulate bone breakdown and encourage calcium loss from the body. Since then, other researchers have confirmed this observation.15,16 As you will recall, animal protein-dense foods make the blood more acidic. The body responds by pulling calcium and other minerals out of bones to neutralize the acid and sending it out in the urine. Building your child’s diet from fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes is a good way to reduce this excess calcium loss and protect bones.

Read Parents’ Guide to Building Better Bones

If you are living with osteoporosis or wanting to insure your children’s bone health, read these articles and talk to your health care provider about eliminating dairy products from your diet. Remember, you build strong bones with beans and greens!

Read Preventing and Reversing Osteoporosis

Read Dairy Products and Bone Health

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