In our first two articles in this series, we tackled the question of whether humans need to consume milk and the health dangers of consuming milk. Now finally, we tackle the biggest misconception when it comes to dairy — CALCIUM! One of the most famous nutrients of all, which helps us develop strong bones, teeth and muscles. If humans stop drinking cows milk, where would we get our calcium from? The answer is, exactly from the same place the cows get theirs! (i.e. greens on the ground). Not only cows, but large animals like elephants, rhinos and horses maintain a pretty strong physique by eating greens!
But what about carnivorous animals? Well, carnivores are generally equipped with the jaw, teeth, digestive systems and other characteristics which allow them to exclusively feed on meat and get all their nutrition (including calcium) from it. Grass is to cow as zebra is to lion. Humans on the other hand cannot meet all our nutritional needs by consuming only animal products. Try excluding all plant based food from your diet and you will probably end up pretty sick eventually. In fact, we don’t need meat or dairy at all to meet our nutritional requirements, and large human populations in various regions of the world have thrived for years on meatless and milk-less diets. It is important to understand that for humans, animal meat and milk is not a physiological necessity. The consumption of milk from another species is purely a matter of choice that has gained social acceptance and consequently led to the development of numerous nutritional myths.
The only reason why people still believe that cow’s milk is the best, and perhaps even the sole source of calcium for human beings is because of the promotional efforts carried out by the dairy industry. What is even more amazing is that while dairy products (traditionally marketed as a high-calcium food source) are consumed every day by millions in this country, more than 60% of Americans are not getting enough calcium! This is because a mineral that is not absorbed cannot provide any nutritional benefit; the amount of calcium absorbed is more important than the amount consumed. Calcium is nothing without its sister mineral, magnesium and this should come as no surprise that approximately 75% of Americans are deficient in magnesium. Magnesium aids the absorption of calcium into the bone and cow’s milk by itself does not have enough magnesium to support its calcium, which causes excessive calcium to accumulate in the body. This in turn can lead to the development of harmful calcium deposits in our joints, kidneys and under the skin.
Some researchers have also found that countries with the highest dairy consumption also have high rates of osteoporosis. This is because consumption of animal protein in general (including protein found in dairy products) tends to acidify blood and our bodies neutralize this acid by leaching calcium from our bones and eventually excreting it from the body. In the book, the China Study, Dr. T. Colin Campbell also found that casein (a protein found in cow’s milk) actually promoted cancer in all stages of development. According to his research, the only safe protein that did not promote cancer was (you guessed it) plant based! In addition, dairy products have been linked to allergies, acne, constipation, obesity, heart disease, respiratory problems, diabetes and various other diseases.
Of course, humans do need a good supply of calcium in our diet, but cows milk is by no means the best source. As we pointed out in the first installment of this “Want Milk?” series, there are numerous plant-based sources for calcium that are far more beneficial to our health and well-being than milk derived from animals. Hemp, almond and/or coconut milk have all the calcium you will need and taste as good (if not better) than cow’s milk. Green leafy vegetables, almonds, figs, sesame seeds, sprouted sunflower seeds, etc. are also great healthy sources of calcium.
If you still want to consume dairy after reading this article, remember that we haven’t even touched upon milk production methods and the enormous suffering that cows and their calves have to endure so humans can continue to consume their milk. Neither have we discussed the millions of dollars that the dairy industry generates around the world and the major efforts that are undertaken by the industry to continue to associate cow’s milk and meat with emotional and cultural importance.
We don’t need to consume milk produced by another species. Further, the milk can be dangerous for our health and its calcium adsorption is negligible. Lastly, avoiding animal milk is morally the best choice you can make, given current methods of dairy production. Try giving it up and the results may surprise you!