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Is milk really a good source of calcium?

'Milk and all high protein foods are acidic in the body and so they all leach calcium out of the bones,' says our expert.

Written by Sameer Jha |Updated : November 16, 2015 1:59 PM IST

Since ancient times, milk has been considered a great source of calcium and something that helps strengthen bones and prevent debilitating diseases like osteoporosis. However, the long held belief might just not be true and milk considered as nature's wellness drink may do more harm than good.

Dr. Nandita Shah, founder of SHARAN India, an organisation committed to health through nutrition and wiping out diabetes from the face of India, had strong opinions on how milk was promoted as a wonder source of calcium. 'Have you heard of cases of osteoporosis? There are many these days! Ask them if they have milk products every day. Most of them will answer in the affirmative. If milk were a good source of calcium, why should they get osteoporosis after years of consuming dairy?

Osteoporotics are usually advised more milk products, calcium tablets, vitamin D, maybe, and exercise. Yet they hardly ever get better. Why not? In fact no case of dietary insufficiency of calcium is known. The cause is not lack of calcium, but losing calcium.

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Our body is alkaline. Every time we consume something which is acid yielding in the body, it leaches calcium out of the bones to neutralise it and we lose calcium. Milk and all high protein foods are acidic in the body (they break down into amino acids) and so they all leach calcium out of the bones," she said. Here are things you ought to know about osteosporosis.

Here is a small list of acidic foods that leach out calcium from your body:

Meat Sodas

If not milk, then what?

"The most important question to ask ourselves is how does the cow get calcium? Calcium is a mineral, it comes from the soil and most green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds are rich in calcium. One of the richest source of calcium is sesame seeds which contain 10 times more calcium than milk. Another rich source is drumstick leaves," says Dr. Nandita.

Here is a list of calcium rich foods:

Calcium content of foods (per 100-gram portion)
1. Human breast milk33 mg17. Molasses (dark)684 mg
2. Almonds234 mg18. Mustard green (raw)183 mg
3. Amaranth267 mg19. Mustard green (cooked)138 mg
4. Apricots (dried)67 mg20. Parsley203 mg
5. Beans (pinto, black)135 mg21. Pistachio nuts131 mg
6. Beet greens (cooked)99 mg22. Potato chips40 mg
7. Bran70 mg23. Raisins62 mg
8. Swiss chard (raw)88 mg24. Sesame seeds1160 mg
9. Chickpeas (garbanzos)150 mg25. Sugar (Brown)85 mg
10. Collards (raw leaves)250 mg26. Tofu128 mg
11. Cress (raw)81 mg27. Spinach (raw)93 mg
12. Figs (dried)126 mg28. Sunflower seeds120 mg
13. Hazelnuts209 mg29. Watercress151 mg
14. Kale (raw leaves)249 mg30 Cow s milk120 mg
15. Kale (cooked leaves)187 mg
16. Lettuce (dark green)68 mg

Image source: Getty Images

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