Did your mama tell you to drink your milk for strong bones?  Well, times have changed. This article incorporates research from Purdue’s own researcher, Connie Weaver, as well as registered dietitians, Julieanna Hever and McKel Hill, to uncover why milk and dairy products as the primary source of calcium is a practice of the past.

Why is calcium important? Calcium is a mineral, and a micronutrient needed for many vital processes in the body. Of course, we need calcium for strong bones, but we also use calcium in muscle contraction, hormonal secretion, nerve function, messaging between cells, heart contraction and blood flow.

How much calcium do you need? Men and women generally require between 1000 to 1300mg per day.

What are the best sources for calcium? According to the results of the study, “Calcium Absorption From Kale,” published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, by Purdue’s own, Connie M. Weaver, “Absorption of kale calcium was excellent in all 11 subjects, with no value being less than 30 percent.  In nine of the 11 subjects, kale calcium absorbability was higher than milk calcium.” 

Did you know that one cup white beans is 19 percent the daily recommended amount of calcium? There are lots of clean, cruelty free sources of calcium that are more easily absorbed than milk. Here the most significant:

- Kale

- Collard Greens

- Turnip Greens

- Tofu

- Tempeh

- Tahini/ sesame seeds

- Molasses

- Broccoli

- Seaweeds

- Almonds

Here are four more reasons why you should ditch dairy, from registered dietitian, Julieanna Hever, M.S., R.D., C.P.T. 

1. We are the only species that drinks the lactation excretions of another species and the only species that continues to drink milk after being weaned.

2. Seventy percent of the world’s population is lactose-intolerant

3. Dairy provides high levels of saturated fat and cholesterol, which are known to cause atherosclerosis. This leads to heart disease.

4. Casein is possibly a potent carcinogen. Dr. T. Colin Campbell, author of, “The China Study,” found casein to be a powerful cancer promoter after decades of laboratory research. He was able to turn cancer on and off simply by increasing the amount of raw casein fed.

Also, did you know that cow farts are a bigger contributor to global warming than car emissions? Not to mention the fact that cows do need to be impregnated to produce the milk that we drink. Impregnating an animal and then stealing its baby’s milk? Shake. My. Head.  

Dairy is not needed to get your calcium! There are amazing foods to keep in mind, that are rich in calcium, dairy-free, and taste delicious. Try almond milk, rice milk, soymilk, or coconut milk. My favorite is hemp milk. Still worried about your bone health? The number one most important factor in bone health is exercise; stress needs to be applied to your bones regularly to increase and maintain bone density.  Heading to the gym and the produce section to get strong, healthy bones for life? Oh KALE yes!