If I do not eat dairy products, how do I get calcium?
All indispensable components of dairy products, beginning with calcium, can be obtained by eating other foods. Fruits and vegetables contribute to significant calcium intakes. The most interesting vegetables are cruciferous, including all varieties of cabbage and broccoli because their calcium is particularly well assimilated, in proportions ranging from 40 to 60%.
Water is also a good calcium vector. Calcium from the water (tap water or bottled) is absorbed as well as that in milk, sometimes even better.
Foods coming from animals provide little calcium, 15 to 20 mg per 100 g. However sardines provide an exception if we eat them with their edges.
It is important to know the dairy calcium from other sources, not just from the point of view of their content but also actually absorbed fraction. For example, a glass of milk (240 g) provides 300 mg of calcium, of which 32% is absorbed, slightly less than 100 mg net calcium. In comparison, you need to consume less than one serving (0.7) of Chinese cabbage, or two and a half glasses of water with high concentrations of magnesium, to absorb the same amount of calcium.
To get the calcium you need, you do not need to eat 3 to 4 dairy products daily. You can follow the advice of the Harvard School of Public Health who simply advises “get one or two good sources of calcium a day,” be it vegetables, fruit, water, sardines, almonds. At the same time, it is advisable to eat low salt because excess salt leads to calcium in the urine.
If I do not eat dairy products, do I risk a fracture?
In September 2015, a major study was published in the medical journal BMJ that definitively confirms that neither calcium consumption at the recommended dietary (900 to 1200 mg), nor that of dairy products reduces the risk of fracture1.
Excluding dairy products, are there preferred regimes to prevent fractures?
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, diets rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes (such as soy), tubers, nuts, spices, are associated with a lower risk of fracture. These benefits are partly explained by the low acid load of these foods, and high intake of alkalizing elements such as potassium salts. Potassium must first be sought in food, but it is also possible to use potassium citrate supplements.
But food is not enough to prevent fractures. It is necessary to associate a minimum of physical exercise, especially when you get older, weight training to strengthen bones and muscles, and dancing for balance. Also avoid or limit drugs that decrease your sense of balance, as antipsychotics, antihypertensives, etc.
My child is allergic to milk. Should he/she avoid dairy products for his/her entire life?
Milk is one of the most common food allergens. Before the age of 3 years, 2 to 3% of children are allergic to milk2.
Treatment involves eliminating dairy products and foods containing dairy proteins: the numerous and mandatory labeling makes it a pretty easy task for parents of allergic children. Home cooking must appeal to gourmet milk substitutes.
It was thought until recently that the allergies disappear around the age of 3 years, but according to a recent study, only 20% of allergic children are no longer allergic to milk at the age of 4 years. It often takes longer, even at adolescence to see these children tolerate milk proteins. For example, at age 16, 20% of children who were allergic to milk still are3.
I do not digest lactose. Is this an anomaly?
All babies digest lactose, the milk sugar, thanks to an enzyme called lactase. But after weaning (between the ages of 3 and 5 years), the activity of lactase decreases from 75 to 90% in humans because this enzyme is then unnecessary from the standpoint of evolution: our prehistoric ancestors, not having any livestock, did not consume any milk.
However, about 5000 years ago, the descendants of the Neolithic pastoralist peoples (Northern Europe, Caucasus, Fulani, Masai, etc.) have developed genetic mutations that maintained lactase activity even in adulthood. Today, only those populations, a minority in human species, can digest lactose of milk after infancy. So it is quite normal for an adult not to be able to digest lactose.
What are the symptoms when one does not digest lactose?
People who do not digest lactose are unwell 30 minutes to 2 hours after drinking milk, not only on the digestive level, but also in many other ways. Lactose intolerance is indeed manifested by rhinitis, sinusitis, eczema, headaches, concentration problems, joint pain and frequent urination. This is because the lactose, when it reaches the colon, is metabolized by the intestinal flora, leadin to hydrogen releases and a myriad of toxins.
Read also: How do I know if I am intolerant to lactose?
I am intolerant to lactose. Can I consume goat milk?
There is a little less lactose in goat milk, but the difference is small: for example, lactose, is 0.2 to 0.5% less in goat milk compared to cow’s milk. So an intolerant person to lactose is also much indisposed with goat milk.
I read that raw milk does not have the disadvantages of conventional milk, pasteurized or UHT.
Raw milk may contribute to resistance to infections, especially among children. Advocates of raw milk ensure that it is nutritionally superior to conventional milk. It is true that milk heating process reduces the levels of many vitamins, but this decrease relates to relatively low starting levels, and does not appear to have clinical consequences.
Apart from these aspects, raw milk contains the same proteins and the same amount of lactose as conventional milk. So the problems of these constituents, when eating conventional dairy products, will not be eliminated by using raw milk.
- Bolland MJ, Leung W, Tai , Bastin S, Gamble GD, Grey A, Reid IR, Calcium intake and risk of fracture: systematic review BMJ 2015;351:h4580
- Høst A. Frequency of cow’s milk allergy in childhood. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2002 Dec;89(6 Suppl 1):33-7.
- Skripak JM1, Matsui EC, Mudd K, Wood RA. The natural history of IgE-mediated cow’s milk allergy. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2007 Nov;120(5):1172-7. Epub 2007 Nov 1.