Is Almond Milk Calcium Fortified?

MAYO CLINIC, DEAR: I’ve always preferred a glass of milk with most meals, but there are now so many alternatives to cow’s milk available. Are plant-based milks like soy or almond milk healthier alternatives?

ANSWER: Cow’s milk (dairy) and other plant-based beverages, such as soy milk and almond milk, are both nutritious options. However, depending on the type of product and the brand, there are significant nutritional variances. In general, studying the nutritional facts for each beverage can help you break down the benefits. Fat content, protein, calcium, and the quantity of added sugars, if any, in each food are all crucial considerations.

Skim milk has very little fat, yet the amount of cholesterol-raising saturated fat increases as the percentage of fat increases from 1% to 2% to whole milk. This is crucial to remember because the American Heart Association suggests that saturated fat be limited to no more than 7% of total calories in your diet. Soy and almond milks have roughly 2 to 4 grams of fat per cup, but those fats are mostly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are good for you.

When it comes to protein content, dairy milk comes out on top with little over 8 grams per cup. With about 7 grams per cup, soy milk is a close second. With only 1 gram per cup, traditional almond milk falls behind. Pea protein has been added to several modern nut milk variants.

When it comes to calcium, dairy milk naturally contains roughly 300 milligrams per cup, and dairy products are typically thought to be the most easily absorbed calcium source. Many soy and almond milks are calcium fortified to match the calcium content of dairy milk. However, because soy includes a natural component (phytate) that hinders calcium absorption, your body may not absorb all of the calcium in soy milk.

Then there are the sugars that have been added. There are no additional sugars in unflavored white dairy milk, unsweetened soy, or almond milk. The taste of unsweetened soy or almond milk, on the other hand, may be a concern for some. A sweetened or flavored beverage may contain 4 to more than 20 grams of added sugars. The easiest approach to choose a flavor you like with little added sugars is to look at the Nutrition Facts label. Remember that sugar is indicated on the label of unflavored white dairy milk, but it’s lactose, a naturally occurring milk sugar.

In conclusion, dairy milk is difficult to beat for balanced nutrition, with nonfat skim milk being the best option for most individuals. However, not everyone can take dairy milk, and some people may opt to forego animal products altogether or simply want to experiment. Unsweetened soy milk is the closest nutritional equivalent, plus it contains a few grams of beneficial fats that skim milk lacks. While almond milk is not unhealthy, it is less nutrition rich, particularly in terms of protein content. Check the Nutrition Facts labels on soy or almond milk for appropriate calcium and minimal added sugars. (Reprinted with permission from the Mayo Clinic Health Letter) Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, Endocrinology/Nutrition

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Is almond milk a calcium-rich beverage?

Almond milk, unlike cow’s milk, is not inherently high in calcium, and there is evidence that the calcium added to plant-based milks is not as well absorbed as calcium contained in cow’s milks.

What kind of calcium-fortified milk is there?

Varying types of milk have different nutritional content. During the production process, they may also be subjected to various processing procedures. Some vendors supplement the milk with vitamins and minerals.

For decades, whole cow’s milk was the gold standard for healthful and nutritious milk. It contains approximately 88 percent water, 5% carbs, 3% protein, 3% fat, and a significant amount of minerals such as potassium and phosphorus. 276 mg of calcium, or 27% of your daily value, is found in an 8-ounce cup of whole milk. Saturated fats are abundant in whole-fat or full-fat milk. Whole milk composition is determined by the cow’s breed (Holstein or Jersey), food, and lactation stage.

Low-fat milk has a fat content of 1%, compared to 3.25 percent in whole milk. Because fat has the highest calorie density of any nutrient, many dietitians and nutritionists advocate low-fat or skim milk. Low-fat milk has a higher calcium concentration than whole milk in terms of weight. An 8-ounce cup contains 29 percent of your daily calcium requirement.

All of the milk fat has been eliminated from skim or no-fat milk. As a result, it contains less calories and a higher calcium-to-weight ratio. 325 mg of calcium is found in an 8-ounce cup of skim milk, which is roughly a third of the daily calcium requirement for adults. Because of fortification, skim milk has more vitamins than whole milk.

Almond milk is a plant-based milk prepared by emulsifying ground almonds. When compared to full milk, it has a lot fewer calories and sugar. Almond milk is lactose-free and high in iron, phosphorus, zinc, potassium, and magnesium, among other minerals. It contains a lot of calcium naturally and is fortified with it. As a result, almond milk is a far superior calcium source than cow’s milk.

Soy milk is prepared by dissolving tiny soy flour particles in water. It’s high in protein, Vitamin A, and potassium, and has a low saturated fat content. Soy milk is not high in calcium naturally, but it can be fortified to increase its nutritional value. However, persons who are allergic to soy in any form should avoid soy milk.

Rice milk is manufactured from milled rice (either white or brown) and is the milk with the fewest allergens. It’s a great alternative for folks who are allergic to dairy, soy, or nuts. To be a rich source of calcium and vitamins, rice milk must be fortified. It has a low protein content but a high sugar, carbohydrate, and calorie content.

In the United States, hemp milk is the newest addition to the plant-based milk category. It’s made from hemp plant seeds, which are connected to cannabis plant seeds. Hemp milk has only tiny levels of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), therefore it won’t get you high. Hemp milk is by far the best calcium-fortified substitute milk. One serving of 8 ounces provides 450 mg of calcium, which is 45 percent of the daily required amount.

Other types of milk accessible today include pea milk, oat milk, cashew milk, and coconut milk, to name a few. They come in a variety of nutritional profiles and are typically fortified with a variety of vitamins.

How much calcium does almond milk absorb?

Dairy foods, for example, have a bioavailability of about 30%, which means that if a food label for milk states 300 mg of calcium per cup, only about 100 mg will be absorbed and used by the body. Plant foods, such as leafy greens, have a lower total calcium content but a better bioavailability than dairy. For example, 1 cup cooked bok choy contains roughly 160 mg of calcium but has a 50% bioavailability, so only about 80 mg is absorbed. As a result, 1 cup of cooked bok choy has nearly the same amount of accessible calcium as 1 cup of milk. In terms of total calcium and bioavailability, calcium-fortified orange juice and calcium-set tofu are comparable to milk, but almonds offer a slightly lower total calcium and bioavailability of roughly 20%. This information may be valuable for those who are lactose intolerant or follow a vegan diet.

Some plant diets have the disadvantage of containing naturally occurring plant compounds, sometimes known as phytoestrogens “Anti-nutrients” is a term used to describe substances that are harmful to Oxalates and phytates, which bind to calcium and reduce its bioavailability, are examples of anti-nutrients. Spinach has the greatest calcium of all the leafy greens, with 260 mg per 1 cup cooked, but it is also high in oxalates, which reduces bioavailability, allowing the body to use only 5% of the calcium, or around 13 mg. The main message is not to avoid spinach since it includes other beneficial elements, but to avoid using it as a major source of calcium because most of it will not be absorbed by the body. You can also plan your meals so that you don’t eat when you’re not hungry “Calcium-binding” foods, such as spinach, should be eaten at the same time as calcium-rich foods or supplemented with calcium.

Continue to aim for the RDAs specified for your age group and gender if you’re scanning food labels to obtain a specific quantity of daily calcium. Calcium bioavailability in food is taken into account while determining RDAs. Keep in mind that the amount of calcium absorbed in the body varies from person to person depending on metabolism and other meals consumed at the same time. In general, consuming a wide variety of calcium-rich meals can assist to compensate for any minor losses.

Almond milk contains what form of calcium?

Almond milk is not inherently high in calcium, despite the fact that almonds are a good source of this mineral. Tricalcium phosphate is commonly used to add calcium to almond milk. This is the same type that may be found in milk.

Many food businesses fortify almond, rice, or soy milk with calcium levels that are comparable to cow’s milk. As a result, we doubt that consuming one of these milk substitutes as part of a regular diet would be harmful. (A “regular” diet would consist of no more than a cup at a time, with three or four cups consumed per day.)

Is almond milk a good source of calcium for your bones?

Some minerals in almond milk are not absorbed as well as they are in milk. This is mainly due to the presence of phytic acid, an antinutrient that inhibits iron, zinc, and magnesium absorption (4, 5, 6).

Almond milk is not acceptable as a milk substitute for infants since it is deficient in several nutrients.

Almond milk is naturally high in a variety of vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin E.

It is low in calories

Despite the fact that almonds are high in fat and calories, commercial almond milk is a low-calorie beverage (1, 2).

This implies you may consume a large amount of it without gaining weight. It also has a high nutritional value in relation to its calorie content.

Almond milk is made by diluting it with water to get a fat content equivalent to that of low-fat milk, which is roughly 1% fat.

A cup of almond milk has 39 calories, which is half as many as a cup of skim milk.

However, not all almond milks are created equal. Depending on how many almonds are in each cup, homemade almond milk and select brands may have a substantially higher calorie count.

Furthermore, some products have added sugar, which people should avoid if they want to get the most out of their health.

Bottom line: Almond milk prepared in a factory may have less calories than skim milk. However, this may not apply to all brands, so read the nutrition labels carefully.

Unsweetened almond milk doesn’t raise blood sugar

Sugar-free almond milk, on the other hand, is a low-carb beverage with fewer than 2% carbs in 1 cup, or 3.43 g of carbs (2).

Low-fat cow’s milk, on the other hand, has a carb content of 5%, or 12 g per cup (3).

In comparison to its glucose level, almond milk is also heavy in fat and protein. As a result, it does not induce a surge in blood sugar levels, making it acceptable for diabetics and those on a low-carb diet.

However, study the ingredient lists carefully and choose items that are as natural as possible.

Bottom line: Almond milk is a low-carb beverage that is ideal for those on a low-carb diet or who need to keep their blood sugar levels in check.

It is dairy-free

Almond milk is a fantastic alternative for vegans and those who are lactose intolerant or allergic to milk because it includes no cow’s milk or other animal ingredients.

Many people are lactose intolerant, meaning they can’t entirely digest it. Undigested lactose goes down to the colon, where it is fermented by the indigenous bacteria, causing excessive gas, bloating, diarrhea, and other unpleasant symptoms.

Because almond milk is dairy-free, it contains no lactose, making it a good milk substitute for lactose-intolerant persons.

Bottom line: Almond milk is a dairy-free substitute for vegans and anyone with lactose intolerance or milk allergy because it is an imitation milk that contains no dairy.

Enriched almond milk may strengthen your bones

Calcium is found in the highest concentration in dairy products. Almonds, on the other hand, are a poor provider of this vitamin.

Calcium is commonly added to almond milk to make it more akin to genuine milk. Depending on the type and brand of commercial almond milk, a cup may provide 37 percent or more of your daily need.

A cup of cow’s milk, on the other hand, may contain up to 23 percent of your daily calcium need, depending on the type and brand.

As a result, fortified almond milk is a good source of calcium for people who don’t eat dairy, such as vegans and those who are lactose intolerant or allergic to milk.

Calcium is necessary for the formation and maintenance of bones. As a result, consuming enough calcium lowers the risk of osteoporosis, a disorder marked by weak bones and fractures (7).

Bottom line: Almond milk is frequently fortified with calcium, making it a good source of the mineral. Those who do not consume dairy products may minimize their risk of osteoporosis by drinking enhanced almond milk on a regular basis.

It may reduce the risk of heart disease

Regular eating of nuts has been related to a lower risk of heart disease in observational studies. This is mainly due to their high content of beneficial fats (8).

Almond oil’s major fatty acid, oleic acid, has been associated to positive changes in blood lipids in studies (9).

In one study, healthy adults who consumed 66 grams of almonds or almond oil daily for six weeks saw their levels of low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, drop “Cholesterol was lowered by 6%, and triglycerides were reduced by 14%. It also improved their HDL (high-density lipoprotein), or “good” cholesterol “It’s a wonderful thing,” cholesterol by 6% (10).

These positive alterations in blood lipid profiles have been linked to a lower risk of heart disease (11).

Although fat accounts for around half of the calories in almond milk, it is a low-fat product that is unlikely to have a substantial impact on your blood lipid profile.

Many of the health advantages of almonds are attributed to vitamin E, as well as bioactive plant chemicals such as polyphenols, according to nutritionists. These substances are anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, which are beneficial to heart health (12).

Almond milk is strong in vitamin E and includes healthy fats, so it’s a good choice. It may be beneficial to your heart if you drink it on a regular basis.

Enriched almond milk is high in vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiency affects a large number of people. Brittle bones, tiredness, and weak muscles are more likely as a result of this (13).

In the human diet, there are few good sources of vitamin D. As a result, adding vitamin D to particular foods is a typical public-health practice. This is especially true with dairy products.

Almond milk, like ordinary milk, is frequently fortified with vitamin D. The amount of vitamin D in each product varies. One cup of almond milk, for example, may contain 2.62 micrograms, or 13% of your daily value. A cup of vitamin-fortified cow’s milk has a same amount of vitamins (2).

As a result, fortified almond milk is a good source of vitamin D that, if consumed frequently, can help prevent insufficiency.

Bottom line: Almond milk is frequently fortified with vitamin D, and drinking it on a regular basis may help avoid vitamin D insufficiency.

Is it oat milk or almond milk that provides higher calcium?

“Almond milk has a greater calcium, magnesium, and vitamins A, D, and E than oat milk, with varying amounts of potassium, salt, and sugar between the two alternative milk substitutes depending on the brand and variation,” adds Pumper.

Is there any almond milk that is calcium-free?

Plain almond milk has only 2 milligrams of calcium per 8-ounce cup, whereas rice milk has less than 1 milligram. As a result, homemade or unfortified soy, almond, or rice milk should not be substituted for cow’s milk as a calcium source.

Lacks protein

Almond milk has only 1 gram of protein per cup (240 ml), compared to 8 and 7 grams in cow’s and soy milk, respectively (16, 17).

Protein is required for a variety of body processes, including muscular growth, skin and bone construction, and the generation of enzymes and hormones (18, 19, 20).

Beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, tofu, tempeh, and hemp seeds are among the high-protein dairy-free and plant-based foods.

If you don’t mind eating animal products, eggs, fish, poultry, and beef are all good sources of protein (21).

Unsuitable for infants

Cow’s or plant-based milks should not be given to children under the age of one year because they can inhibit iron absorption. Until 46 months of age, breastfeed or use infant formula exclusively until solid meals can be introduced (22).

Offer water as a nutritious beverage option in addition to breast milk or formula at 6 months of age. Cow’s milk can be given to your infant’s diet after the age of one (22).

Plant-based drinks, with the exception of soy milk, are inherently low in protein, fat, calories, and a variety of vitamins and minerals, including iron, vitamin D, and calcium. These nutrients are necessary for development and growth (23, 24).

Almond milk has only 39 calories per cup, 3 grams of fat, and 1 gram of protein (240 ml). This is insufficient for a developing infant (5, 24).

Continue to breastfeed or see your doctor for the best nondairy formula if you don’t want your kid to swallow cow’s milk (23).

May contain additives

Sugar, salt, gums, tastes, and lecithin and carrageenan can all be included in processed almond milk (types of emulsifiers).

Texture and consistency are achieved by the use of emulsifiers and gums. Unless ingested in really large quantities, they are harmless (25).

Despite this, a test-tube study indicated that carrageenan, which is often used as an emulsifier in almond milk and is generally considered harmless, may disturb intestinal health. Before any judgments can be drawn, however, further thorough research is required (26).

Despite these issues, many companies avoid using this ingredient entirely.

Furthermore, many flavored and sweetened almond milks include a lot of sugar. Sugar consumption can lead to weight gain, tooth problems, and other chronic illnesses (13, 14, 27).

Almond milk is low in protein, lipids, and nutrients necessary for an infant’s growth and development. Furthermore, many processed kinds contain sugar, salt, flavors, gums, and carrageenan, among other things.

Which milk contains the most calcium?

Cow’s and goat’s milk have the highest calcium content and hence deliver the greatest bang for your buck (300 mg per cup). Milk alternatives such as soy and almond milk are available for people who can’t consume dairy due to allergies or dietary limitations.

These milk substitutes have some advantages, although they are often deficient in calcium. Alternatives to calcium-fortified milk aren’t as enticing as they appear…

As you can see, the calcium frequently separates from the liquid and sits at the bottom of the container, which isn’t very useful! Furthermore, the calcium in calcium-fortified milk is virtually usually derived from rocks. This is a problem since your body was not meant to eat rocks.

You won’t have to worry with any of the unwanted effects that rock-based calcium supplements bring because the calcium is plant-based (looking at you constipation).

Is vitamin-fortified almond milk available?

Milk and other dairy products are an important part of a balanced diet because they are a good source of calcium and vitamin D for many people in the United States. Calcium is a mineral that is necessary for bone health, muscle contraction, and nerve transmission. Vitamin D is required for the absorption of calcium, the maintenance of a healthy immune system, and the proper functioning of muscles and neurons. While cow’s milk contains critical nutrients, not everyone is able or willing to consume it. Soy milk, almond milk, or rice milk are examples of non-dairy milk that can help your body acquire the nutrients it requires.

People choose non-dairy milk over cow’s milk for a variety of reasons. Some people avoid all animal products because they are vegan; others have a milk protein allergy; some are worried about the environment or ethical farming techniques; and yet others simply enjoy the flavor. Whatever the reason, there are a variety of non-dairy milk options available. With so many alternatives, it’s crucial to understand the distinctions between various milks, as calories, protein, and important vitamins and minerals can all vary significantly.

Let’s start with the nutritional value of cow’s milk. A cup of 1% milk has 110 calories, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, and 8 grams of protein in it. Calcium, phosphorus, vitamin B12, riboflavin (vitamin B2), selenium, and zinc are all naturally present in cow’s milk. There is also some vitamin A present. Cow’s milk in the United States is typically fortified with vitamins A and D. The process of fortification provides nutrients that the item lacks or is deficient in. Foods may be fortified with different vitamins or minerals depending on where you live in the world to assist prevent nutritional deficiencies in the population. Vitamin D deficiency is common in the United States, and unfortified cow’s milk lacks it.

Lactaid may be an excellent option for lactose intolerant people who prefer cow’s milk. Lactaid contains lactase as well as actual cow’s milk. Lactase is an enzyme that aids in the digestion of lactose. Because lactose is broken down into simple sugars, this milk has a sweeter flavor than conventional cow’s milk. Lactose intolerant people can consume Lactaid, other lactose-free milks, or non-dairy milks, however people who have a milk protein allergy should only drink non-dairy milks.

Soy milk is a popular non-dairy alternative to cow’s milk. It’s created with soybeans, purified water, and thickeners to make it more consistent. Silk Original Soymilk has 110 calories, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 5 grams of added sugars, and 8 grams of protein in one cup. This soy milk is fortified with vitamin A and D, just like cow’s milk, but it also contains calcium, vitamins B2 and B12, gellan gum, and cane sugar. Soy milk, which has the same amount of protein as cow’s milk and is a strong source of vitamin B12, may be a decent option for vegans.

Another popular option is almond milk. Ground almonds and filtered water are used to make this milk. Silk Unsweetened Almondmilk has only 30 calories, 0 grams of saturated fat, and 1 gram of protein in a single cup. Calcium, vitamin E, vitamin A, and vitamin D are all added to it. There are two thickening agents in this drink. Vitamin B12 may be added to other types of almond milk. Almond milk, unlike cow’s milk or soy milk, is low in protein and will not help you meet your protein requirements. Unsweetened almond milk can be used in smoothies or as a low-calorie substitute for coffee creamer.

Rice milk, often known as rice drink, is a non-dairy milk. This milk is dairy-free, nut-free, and soy-free, making it ideal for individuals with dietary sensitivities. Rice milk is prepared from water and milled rice. Rice Dream Enriched Unsweetened Rice Drink contains 70 calories, 0 grams of saturated fat, and 0 grams of protein in a single cup. It is vitamin A, vitamin D, and vitamin B12 fortified. Because it contains oils, starches, and thickening agents, this drink has more ingredients than the others. If you have diabetes, bear in mind that rice milk, especially sweetened ones, has more carbohydrates than other non-dairy milks and cow’s milk. Rice milk, like almond milk, is low in protein.

Coconut milk, oat milk, and cashew milk are examples of non-dairy milks. These silk unsweetened milks all have less than 100 calories per cup and are fortified to be decent or exceptional calcium and vitamin D sources. One cup of Silk Unsweetened Coconutmilk, on the other hand, contains 3 grams of saturated fat.

Look at the nutrition facts labels on any milks you’re interested in sampling during your next trip to the grocery store. Take a look at the serving size first. 1 cup, commonly known as 8 fl. oz. or 240 ml, is the standard measurement for milk. Then consider the number of calories, saturated fat, added sugars, and protein. Milk that is low in fat or fat-free has fewer calories and saturated fat. Whether it’s whole milk, 2 percent milk, 1 percent milk, or fat-free milk, cow’s milk offers 8 grams of protein per cup. The “percent Daily Value” column for vitamins and minerals is a simple method to discover if an item is high or deficient in something. This is considered an excellent source if a vitamin or mineral has 20% or more of the daily value. It is still considered a decent source if a vitamin or mineral has 10 to 20% of the daily intake.

If you want to substitute non-dairy milk for cow’s milk, look for one that contains protein, calcium, and vitamin D. If you’re a vegan, search for one that’s also vitamin B12 fortified. To prevent extra sugar, opt for unsweetened milk. Unfortunately, many non-dairy milks lack the same level of protein as cow’s milk. Non-dairy milks with the greatest protein are likely to be soy milks, but keep in mind that nutrient quantities can differ between brands, even if they’re the same type of milk. Calcium and vitamin D can be obtained in a variety of ways, including milk. Include lean meats, fish, healthy grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds in your diet in addition to milk to provide your body with the nutrients it requires and to help you feel your best.