Calcium Conundrum

From the time I was very young-we’re talking before I had the ability to consume most solid foods-I have never liked or reacted positively to drinking milk. Of any form. Whole, 2%, 1%, Skim, Almond, Rice, Soy, etc. etc. none of them have ever been a pleaser to my pallet.

Because of this, getting enough Calcium in my diet has been a worry of mine for quite some time now. I mean, I am rather short and small boned–could this be a direct relation to my intentional avoiding of the white, creamy liquid every child is encouraged to drink? Or maybe it’s just the way I am. (The latter excuse is the one I typically use.) Regardless, I worry.

Also, there has been a lot of buzz recently about the amazing abilities of Chocolate Milk:

“The combination of carbohydrates and protein in low-fat chocolate milk appears to be “just right” for refueling weary muscles, says William Lunn, PhD, an exercise scientist at the University of Connecticut. “It’s not just a dessert item, but it’s very healthy, especially for endurance athletes,” Lunn tells WebMD.”

There was a study done in which athletes’ muscles were tested to see how they responded to Non-Fat Chocolate Milk versus Traditional Sports Drinks:

Post-exercise muscle biopsies showed increased skeletal muscle protein synthesis — a sign that muscles were better able to rebuild — after the milk drink, compared with the carb-only beverage. Additionally, drinking fat-free chocolate milk led to a higher concentration of glycogen, or muscle fuel, in muscles 30 and 60 minutes after exercise, compared with the sports drink. Replenishing glycogen after exercise helps future performance, Lunn says.

Seems like a pretty great reason for someone who’s active and constantly on the go to invest their body in some healing and healthy milk, doesn’t it?! But I just don’t like milk! Nor does my body seem to respond in a happy way to consuming too milk or too much yogurt. It’s as if I’m borderline Lactose intolerant.

As a vegetarian, this just seems to add to the constant schooling I have to do in order to stay on top of the whole “having a healthy body, inside and out” thing. Pff.

However, as a vegetarian, I am happy to inform you that obtaining Calcium from milk is the BEST way to get calcium, is actually a myth. According to the British journalist Anne Karpf, who exhaustively explored the problems with milk for the British paper The Guardian, “American women are among the biggest consumers of calcium in the world, yet still have one of the highest levels of osteoporosis in the world…Most Chinese people eat and drink no dairy products and consume only half the calcium of Americans…yet osteoporosis is uncommon in China despite an average life expectancy of 70.” She goes on to propose that the bone loss and deteriorating bone tissue that take place in osteoporosis are due not to calcium deficiency but rather to its resorption: it’s not that our bodies don’t get enough calcium, rather that they excrete too much of what they already have.

{source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2003/dec/13/foodanddrink.weekend}

There are NUMEROUS ways for us to get calcium. By us, I mean anyone and everyone-not dependent on if they eat meats or drink their milk! For instance, those Dark Leafy Greens the doc is always pushing? Well guess what! They are teeming with phytochemicals like beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin and beta-cryptoxanthin as well as iron, CALCIUM, folate, potassium, magnesium, folate, vitamins A, C, and K, all this while also preventing macular degeneration, ensuring bone and joint health, preventing various types of cancer  reducing the risk of diabetes. Some lesser known contenders to add to your recipes are kale, kohlrabi, fennel, bok choy, mustard and beet greens!

  

AND a few other common Calcium obtainers to look into:

  • Almonds, dry roasted (1 oz. = 80 mg)
  • White beans (1 cup = 226 mg)
  • Broccoli, cooked (1 cup = 132 mg)
  • Brussel Sprouts (1 cup = 128 mg)
  • Kale, cooked (1 cup = 204 mg)
  • Collard greens, cooked (1 cup = 356 mg) More than a glass of milk!! That’s right!

And because I hate to leave you bored with just info, here are a few fun recipes for your fancy:
9 Homemade Milk-Alternative Recipes

Vegan Fudgey-Strawberry Pops!

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