From childhood and throughout adulthood, we’ve been convinced by the dairy industry through various forms of media that we must get our calcium from dairy products, such as milk and cheese. We’ve been lead to believe that these are great sources of calcium, and we’ve even told ourselves that in order to get enough of this nutrient, dairy has to be available at just about every meal. However, we’ve also been told that everything we need in order to thrive has been provided for us by Mother Earth. Mother Earth provides plants, so that must mean plants provide calcium. So where is the disconnect?
Calcium is a mineral, much like copper, iron, and magnesium. Minerals are found in the soil and are absorbed into the roots of plants. By consuming these mineral-abundant plants, animals metabolize the calcium into their bodies. There is a false understanding that calcium lies within dairy products when in reality this mineral comes directly from the earth and is overly abundant in all whole plant foods.
So you might be thinking, “What about strong bones? If dairy isn’t going to help, where do I start?”. There are a few helpful tips that everyone should know about. If you have a skeleton, this information applies to you.
- Focus on getting most of your nutrition from whole, plant-based foods. You’ll absorb optimal amounts of calcium that will support bone health.
- Step out into the sunlight to help you get sufficient vitamin D. Without vitamin D, you’re limiting your ability to absorb calcium properly, and the sun is the best way to meet your daily requirement. Get rid of the fortified foods where vitamin D is added and spend 10-15 minutes a day outside in the sun.
- When sunlight is limited due to weather patterns or geographical location, pick up a supplement at your local health food store. These stores have highly qualified individuals that will support you and educate you on how to best provide for your body.
- Make sure to practice strength training. When you do resistance training or even lift weights, you’re stressing your bones. This supports strong bones and boosts longevity. No need to hit the gym if you don’t have a membership – go for a walk around the block or a jog in the park. Start small and work your way up.
So instead of looking at individual nutrients, like calcium, think about how you can obtain optimal health through daily commitments to your body. Take time away from your busy schedule to go for a walk in the sunlight, even if it’s just for 15 minutes. Opt for a meal at lunch that contains large amounts of nutrient-dense plant foods, like broccoli and cabbage. Try new foods, explore your palate, and give yourself the gift of health.