The calcium myth.
Before I went vegan in 2017 I had not eaten much dairy since about 1999. I had been diagnosed with a milk allergy, among others. I now get sinus infections when I eat cow butter.
I believe I got curious about the subject when my Step-Father sent me an email about dairy in 1999. I was at College and had time to kill not doing my homework.
I then stumbled upon the website notmilk.com. I can’t even tell you how late I stayed up reading article after article on that site, absorbing. I knew most of the facts like the back of my hand.
I was so passionate about it that if anyone asked why I didn’t eat dairy I would start in on them like they were the stupidest people on the earth for not knowing. I alienated a lot of people doing this. I apologize if you were one of those people.
Back then it was hard to find dairy free foods. The milk options were rice and soy. You were lucky if you found a cheese without the milk protein casein; I honestly don’t think there were any. At my wedding in 2005 I asked bakers to make a dairy free cake and they looked at me like I was crazy. I even had to send a pizza back 3 times because they kept putting cheese on my pizzas. Ugh.
So, now, about 20 years later I have found my polite voice and a welcoming platform to share, in a passionate but compassionate tone, my disdain for dairy products. Not to mention I have found a plethora of dairy free wedding cakes, desserts, casein and dairy free cheeses and a smorgasbord of vegan meats.
The calcium myth
We have been told for decades that cow milk is a great source of calcium, that it builds strong bones. It has been used as a staple food in a lot of our world along with meat, eggs, and wheat. We use it in almost every single meal. All baked items are made with some form of cow milk. Milk derivatives are in most conventional packaged meals and snacks listed as whey, casein, milk solids, etc.
Cow milk is in everything, it seems. But, how did it get there? Why is it used so widely?
A brief history of milk…
I think we all need a brief history of milk, including me. Very brief. I usually don’t like history but this is kind of interesting and has context now. Homestead.org has a great history of milk. I summarized it below for you.
About 10,000 years ago humans domesticated animals for the use of their meat and hide (they had to stay warm and fed in the north, somehow). Drinking their milks came a while after. Milk helped nourish our ancestors during famines and was found to be very nutritious.
Many animals are used for their milk besides the cow: donkey, yak, goat, sheep, camel, reindeer, llama, and a few more.
I can get behind utilizing your resources, but animal husbandry has grown to ridiculous proportions, in my opinion. There are now 800 breeds of cattle that came from one animal. The Auroch. Which is one of the animals domesticated 10,000 years ago. ( I am unable to find a free pic of the Auroch, otherwise I’d include it here).
Fun fact about the Auroch. It became extinct in the 1600’s due to over hunting and loss of habitat, aka, they lost their homes on the prairies due to agriculture.
I’m pretty sure extraterrestrials gave us animal husbandry. Which is fine. Humans needed them to survive. Makes sense. But, how did we get to where we are now? One phrase: Factory farming.
Take an 8,000 year leap or so forward and we come to the 1800’s. Automation of milking cows was invented in the United States in 1851 by a man named Jesse Williams in New York state. It all went downhill in the 1900’s, in my opinion, when factory farming as a whole took over the world.
Why do we still drink animal milk now when we have so much nutrient dense foods at our finger tips, you may ask?
Great question and I have an answer for you. Milk is thought to be nutritious.
Cow milk is a great source of vitamins and minerals and is thought to be a “perfect food”. Milk is about 87% water and 13% solids with fat soluble vitamins. Milk is thought to be a good source of proteins and carbohydrates. It also contains high quantities of calcium, vitamin D and potassium.
The sad part about dairy milk is that there is sound evidence backed by legitimate peer reviewed scientific studies that show that milk is NOT good for the human body.
Lets debunk the first huge myth about milk. Calcium builds strong bones.
First, though, I need you to know I’m not a doctor or scientist. I’m a very concerned vegan. That actually is more hardcore than being a doctor or scientist in a lot of people’s minds, LOL! Now, with that out of the way…
Yes, cow milk is high in calcium. How reductionist of the dairy industry. We are told we need calcium to build strong bones. Have you ever thought about how our body uses or gets that calcium? Let’s look at what it takes for the human body to process and use that calcium.
You see, magnesium helps “mobilize” calcium and you need Vitamin D to transport them both into the body to be used. Vitamin K2 is also needed to flush out the excess calcium from the body so it does not accumulate as bone spurs or in the arteries to harden them or cause a lot of other issues.
Our bodies need an equal ratio of magnesium to calcium in order for your body to absorb the calcium. To me, this means that we need to look at how much magnesium is in milk, not the calcium. We may need calcium to build our bones and for muscles to work but our bodies cannot do that without magnesium. Check out this great video from Dr. Berg explaining it very well. But, I think I did a good job here too.
So how much magnesium is in cow milk?
According to Milkfacts.info, there is 24 mg of magnesium and 276 mg of calcium in 1 cup of whole milk. Give or take as every cow might be slightly higher or lower in these levels.
If you do the math, you are only absorbing 24 mg of calcium. 24 mg! To put it into context, you are only absorbing about 8.69% of all the calcium that is in that one cup of whole milk. The other 252 mg’s of calcium is floating around in your body looking for places to hang out where you don’t want it.
Remember, this is only in one glass of whole milk. In 1% milk there is 27 mg of magnesium per cup and 290 mg calcium per cup. There is 263 mg or 89.9% of calcium just itching to create inflammation in your joints which is called arthritis and having a party in your kidney’s in the form of stones!
As I said before, to get rid of calcium where you don’t want it you need Vitamin K2. But this goes into more science than I want to get into. I’m not a scientist. I’m just a dangerously curious vegan!
As you can see, cow milk really does have a lot of calcium in it! Our dairy associations are correct on that marketing fact. But, what they are failing to tell you is that only about 8.69% to 10.2% of that is even getting absorbed and used by the body.
Now, I want you to think about a few things:
Veggies and Kidney Stones
Here is an excerpt from “How Not To Die” about the formation of kidney stones:
“A recent study found there was no increased risk of stone formation with higher vegetable intake. In fact, greater intake of fruits and vegetables was associated with a reduced risk independent of other known risk factors, meaning there may be additional benefits to bulking up on plant foods above and beyond restricting animal foods.” (Dr. Michael Gregor, 2015)
Babies and Breast Milk
I want to point out that human breast milk contains 33 mg, the lowest amount of calcium of 56 plant foods per 100 gram portions (100 grams = 3.5 oz) (Cohen, 2001). To me, this is saying a lot. This is huge! Does this mean we need as much calcium as the USDA is telling us? According to the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements, babies birth to 6 months need 200 mg/day and they need to consume about 12 oz. daily.
Doing the math here, this means that babies get about 113mg/day from their mothers’ breast milk. Hmmm… does the math look right? Why would babies need this much when their mother’s breast milk doesn’t produce that much? When their mother’s milk is designed to give babies the exact amount of nutrients that babies need to grow?
One fact that is universally uncontested is that the most perfect human food is breast milk fed to us from our human mothers when we are infants and babies. Human breast milk has all the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to build a thriving and healthy child. So I ask you again, why do babies need more calcium than what the mother can provide?
Where is the USDA getting their information from?
Another helpful stat: Human adults ages of 19-50 need 1,000mg/day of calcium and if you are a woman over 50 you need 1,2000 mg/day. But this data is based off of already calcium-saturated test subjects. Its not a clear indication of what is actually required, is it? What if the data is skewed like the baby and calcium data seems skewed?
There are over 30 studies mentioned in The China Study all stating the correlations between excess calcium consumption and hip fractures. Yet, the dairy industry, doctors, and our parents keep nagging on us that we need more calcium, More Calcium, MORE CALCIUM!!!
But, why does America have a stupidly high percentage of humans with osteoporosis? With the amount of cow milk consumed you would think our bones would be harder than rocks?
I will point you in the direction of a great article from Notmilk.com on osteoporosis. Its appalling! There’s a lot of science that goes into this. Basically, dairy helps produce an acid that our bodies neutralize by using the calcium from our bones. We have so much of this acid from eating dairy (and meat, by the way) that our bones are being leeched of its vital component!
The powers that be ignore sound science so they can make more money. Period. This is why I believe we are still raping cows, stealing their babies, and drinking the babies milk. Its all for the money.
I hope that this post has made you stop and think about cow milk consumption and calcium. I will continue on the subject of dairy in the next post, because I am not even close to done sharing with you what I know about it. This information needs to get to everyone so us humans and cows alike can all live happier and healthier lives!