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. 1
Is almond milk calcium considered a supplement?
If you’ve ever seen commercials for almond milk companies claiming that their product has the same amount of calcium as cow’s milk, it’s because they add it in the form of a calcium carbonate supplement. Calcium carbonate is a low-cost, high-concentration type of calcium.
Is milk calcium easily absorbed?
Dairy products are the most important source of nutritional calcium in the Western diet. This does not imply that they are the sole source of information. Without any dairy products, the daily intake in the paleolithicum was estimated to be as high as 1579 mg per day. 21 Calcium from non-dairy foods can now be added to make up a sufficient amount. In older Swiss women, dairy products account for 52 percent of total essential calcium. 22 They account for almost 60 percent of dietary calcium in the United States23, and even more than 70 percent in some cases. 15 This discrepancy could be explained by the Swiss study’s more precise measurement of total calcium consumption, since calcium can be found in practically every nutrient. Calcium from dairy products accounts for only 2023% of total calcium intake in Asian countries, making them challenging to incorporate into a diet plan. 24
Calcium from dairy products is well absorbed (2227%) and has immediate physiologic effects, such as a short-term decrease in PTH.
25 However, other chemicals in dairy products, such as protein and phosphate, have an effect on bone.
Dairy products are frequently avoided due to concerns about rising cholesterol levels. However, a mixture of milk, hard cheese, and yogurt, which contains 1 g of calcium, has 26 mg of cholesterol. The presence of saturated fatty acids in milk and dairy products explains the eventual detrimental effects. Low-fat milk, yogurt, and hard cheeses are recommended as a result. It’s worth noting that a cholesterol-lowering diet that excludes dairy products raises the risk of osteoporosis. 27
Why is almond milk so high in 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.)
Which calcium-rich milk is the best?
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).
Beans are high in phytates, which are compounds that contain calcium, magnesium, fiber, and other minerals. Phytates prevent your body from absorbing the calcium found in beans. By soaking beans in water for several hours and then cooking them in fresh water, you can lower the phytate content.
Meat and Other High Protein Foods
For bone health and overall wellness, it’s critical to consume enough protein, but not too much. Many elderly persons’ diets are deficient in protein, which can be damaging to their bones. Special high-protein diets that include multiple portions of meat and protein with each meal, on the other hand, can induce calcium loss in the body. You can compensate for this loss by consuming enough calcium to meet your body’s requirements. Dairy products, for example, are high in protein but also contain calcium, which is essential for strong bones.
Consuming foods high in sodium (salt) causes your body to lose calcium, which can lead to bone loss. Limit the amount of processed meals, canned foods, and salt you consume on a daily basis. Look at the Nutrition Facts label to see if a food is rich in sodium. If the percent Daily Value is 20 percent or higher, it is high in sodium. Aim for a daily sodium intake of no more than 2,300 mg.
Spinach and Other Foods with Oxalates
Foods heavy in oxalates (oxalic acid), such as spinach, are difficult for your body to absorb calcium. Rhubarb, beet greens, and certain legumes also contain oxalates. These foods contain other beneficial elements, but they should not be considered calcium sources.
Wheat bran, like beans, is strong in phytates, which inhibit your body from absorbing calcium. Unlike beans, however, the only food that appears to limit calcium absorption in other foods eaten at the same time is 100 percent wheat bran. When you combine milk with 100 percent wheat bran cereal, your body can absorb some, but not all, of the calcium in the milk. Wheat bran in other meals, such as breads, is far less concentrated and is unlikely to affect calcium absorption. If you use calcium supplements, wait two hours or more before or after eating 100 percent wheat bran before taking them.
Colas, but not other soft drinks, have been linked to bone loss in several studies. While additional research into the link between soft drinks and bone health is needed, this is what we do know:
- Colas include caffeine and phosphorus, which may contribute to bone loss.
- Phosphorous, like calcium, is found in the bones. It’s classified as “phosphate” or “phosphoric acid” in colas, some other soft drinks, and processed foods.
- Some scientists believe that Americans consume too much phosphorous, while others argue that as long as they consume enough calcium, it is not a concern. When consumers select soft drinks over milk and calcium-fortified beverages, they may potentially be harming their bones.
- Fortunately, getting enough calcium to meet your body’s needs can help make up for any calcium lost through these beverages.
Which calcium type is the most easily absorbed?
One of the most important nutritional nutrients for bone and dental health is calcium. Calcium, coupled with vitamin D, has been shown in several studies to offer benefits beyond bone health, and it is widely believed that calcium is required for optimal heart, muscle, and neuron function. Millions of women in the United States use calcium supplements to help strengthen their bones, particularly after menopause, when the risk of fractures rises. Calcium supplements are also taken by patients with rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory forms of the condition.
The majority of people obtain enough calcium from their diet. Those who do not, on the other hand, may need to take calcium supplements. It’s critical for people to understand how much calcium they require and which supplements are best for them. 1
Supplementing with calcium isn’t for everyone. Calcium supplements, for example, should be avoided by those who have a health condition that causes an excess of calcium in their bloodstream (hypercalcemia). For certain people, too much or too little calcium, whether through food or supplements, could be hazardous. 1
Types of Calcium Supplements
Calcium supplements come in two major forms: carbonate and citrate. 2 Calcium carbonate is the cheapest and thus the most practical choice. Calcium salts come in a variety of forms in calcium supplements. The amount of elemental calcium in each salt varies. Calcium carbonate (40 percent elemental calcium), calcium citrate (21 percent elemental calcium), calcium lactate (13 percent elemental calcium), and calcium gluconate are the most frequent calcium supplements (9 percent elemental calcium).
Furthermore, some calcium supplements include vitamin D or magnesium. To determine the kind and amount of calcium is present in a product, read the label carefully and look at the supplement ingredients. If a person has any health or nutritional concerns, this information is crucial. 2
Administration and Dosage
The amount of calcium you need each day is determined on your age and gender. Between the ages of 18 and 25, the body’s bone mass peaks and then gradually diminishes. For adult males, the daily calcium recommended dietary intake (RDA) is 1,000 mg for those aged 19 to 70 years and 1,200 mg for those aged >71 years. Calcium RDA for girls aged 19 to 50 years is 1,000 mg, while the RDA for females aged >51 years is 1,200 mg.
Unless directed by a doctor or nutritionist, people should not take more than 1,200 mg of calcium per day (in supplement form). The majority of Americans obtain between 750 mg and 900 mg of calcium per day from their food.
Vitamin D (calciferol) is now known to play a significant role in calcium absorption. Prior to 1997, the RDA for vitamin D in combination with calcium was 200 IU (international units) for those under the age of 50, 400 IU for those 51 to 70, and 600 IU for those beyond 70. Because aging skin produces less vitamin D, the requirements rise with age. As shown below, these guidelines have since increased.2
Hypoparathyroidism, achlorhydria, chronic diarrhea, vitamin D insufficiency, steatorrhea, sprue, pregnancy and lactation, menopause, pancreatitis, renal failure, alkalosis, and hyperphosphatemia are all conditions linked to calcium shortage. Certain medications (e.g., some diuretics, anticonvulsants) can cause hypocalcemia, which may necessitate calcium replacement therapy. 3
Low calcium intake is also a risk for people who eat vegan diets, have lactose intolerance and limit dairy products, eat a lot of protein or sodium, have osteoporosis, have been on long-term corticosteroid treatment, or have certain bowel or digestive diseases that reduce their ability to absorb calcium, such as inflammatory bowel disease or celiac disease. Calcium supplements may be useful in several instances to help people meet their calcium needs. 3
Coral calcium and oyster shell calcium are two other natural calcium sources. Coral calcium is a type of calcium carbonate derived from the remains of fossilized coral. Chelating is a natural process in which the human body mixes calcium with another material (for example, an amino acid) that the body can digest. Coral calcium is also used in bone grafting and maxillofacial surgery. 2,4
Calcium and Vitamin D: Vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium and the maintenance of bone density. As a result, some calcium supplements also include vitamin D. Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) are the two forms of this vitamin (cholecalciferol). When compared to the D3 version of the vitamin, the D2 form has a lower shelf life. 5
A few foods, such as canned salmon with bones and egg yolks, are known to contain tiny levels of vitamin D. Vitamin D is also found in fortified foods and is created naturally by sun exposure. The RDA for vitamin D is 600 IU per day for those over the age of 70, as well as pregnant or breastfeeding women, and 800 IU for people over the age of 71.
Calcitriol (Rocaltrol) is a physiologically active version of vitamin D that is used to treat and prevent low calcium levels in the blood in people with malfunctioning kidneys or parathyroid glands.
Calcium and Vitamin K2: Vitamin K2 comes in a number of different isoforms or analogues, ranging from MK-4 to MK-10. This vitamin offers significant protection against osteoporosis and pathologic calcification of the arteries and soft tissues, both of which are common side effects of aging. Animals and bacteria, especially helpful probiotic bacteria from the gastrointestinal tract, contain vitamin K2. Antibiotics affect vitamin K2 production by interfering with good bacteria’s regular growth. 4,5
Although vitamin D3 has been dubbed the “bone vitamin” because it activates the osteocalcin gene and acts quickly on bones, vitamin K2 has been recognized as being just as vital for bone health. Every 8 to 10 years, the human skeleton is completely replaced with good, dense bone, and these two vitamins play a key role in this process. The daily dose of vitamin K2 for osteoporosis treatment is 45 mg. 4
Elemental Calcium: Because the body absorbs elemental calcium for bone formation and other health advantages, the amount of calcium in the supplement is critical. The label on calcium supplements might help you figure out how much calcium is in each serving (number of tablets). 1,250 mg of calcium carbonate, for example, contains 500 mg of elemental calcium (40 percent ).
Supplement Selection: Some calcium supplements cause adverse effects such as gas, constipation, and bloating in some people. It may be necessary to try a few various brands or types of calcium supplements before determining which one is the most tolerable. Calcium carbonate is the most constipating supplement, but it also provides the most calcium and is the most affordable. Calcium phosphate is less expensive than calcium carbonate and does not induce gas or constipation. Calcium citrate is the easiest to absorb and does not require stomach acid for absorption, but it is also the most expensive and has the least amount of elemental calcium. Calcium should be obtained from both food and supplements by women.
Calcium supplements are available in chewable tablets, capsules, liquids, and powders, among other dose forms. Chewable or liquid calcium supplements are available for those who have difficulty swallowing tablets.
Calcium supplements, like blood pressure drugs (calcium channel blockers), synthetic thyroid hormones, bisphosphonates, and antibiotics, may interact with a variety of prescription medications. Pharmacists are the best people to talk to about potential drug interactions and calcium supplement suggestions.
Bioavailability: Calcium must be able to be absorbed by the human body in order for it to be bioavailable and effective. To enhance absorption, calcium supplements should be given in small quantities (500 mg at a time) and preferably at lunchtime. Calcium citrate is absorbed equally well with or without food and is a type of calcium that is advised for those with inflammatory bowel disease or low stomach acid (those over 50 years old or taking antacids or proton pump inhibitors).
Supplement makers are responsible for ensuring that their supplements are safe and that their claims are accurate, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Many companies may have their products evaluated independently in accordance with USP (United States Pharmacopeia) standards. Supplements with the USP designation have passed quality assurance tests.
Calcium Supplementation and Cardiovascular Effects
High calcium intake has aroused some worries regarding the potential negative consequences of calcification of the arteries and veins on cardiovascular health in the elderly. These impacts could have a variety of pathophysiological processes, including effects on vascular calcification, vascular cell function, and blood coagulation. Newer studies, on the other hand, have indicated no increased risk of heart attack or stroke in women who take calcium supplements over the course of 24 years. 7
Calcium supplements may have no net advantages, according to some scientists, because they induce slight reductions in fracture risk and a small rise in cardiovascular risk. They argue that natural sources of calcium may be better to supplements because they appear to have equivalent advantages on bone density and have not been linked to detrimental cardiovascular consequences. More research is needed to determine the effect of calcium or calcium + vitamin D supplementation on health issues other than bone health. The effects of calcium supplementation on women are largely unknown to the medical profession. 8
Scoring Coronary Artery Calcium Levels
At a later age, calcium deposits can be seen in various regions of the body. A coronary calcium scan is used to examine for calcium buildup in plaque on the inside walls of the heart’s arteries. The results of a coronary calcium scan might range from 0 to over 400. A calcium score of zero implies that no plaque is present, but a score of 400 or more suggests widespread atherosclerotic plaque and substantial coronary constriction. 9
Calcification of the artery walls is frequent in those over the age of 65. Women above the age of 50 are more likely to have calcification of the breasts. Because calcification is formed of calcium phosphate, which is comparable to bone, x-ray imaging may easily reveal calcium deposits.
Coronary calcium is a component of the progression of atherosclerosis; it is found only in atherosclerotic arteries and not in healthy vessel walls. A calcium score, which measures the quantity of calcium in the walls of coronary arteries, appears to be a stronger predictor of cardiovascular disease risk than traditional parameters. 9
Low calcium intake has risks: As previously stated, calcium is necessary for healthy bones and teeth, as well as appropriate muscle and nerve function. Low calcium levels can cause a variety of health issues, including: Children may not attain their full adult height potential, and adults may have low bone mass, which increases the risk of osteoporosis and hip fracture. The acts of parathyroid hormone, the kidneys, and the intestines keep blood calcium levels in check. Serum calcium levels in adults should be between 4.5 and 5.5 mEq/L.10
About 40% of serum calcium is ionized (free), while the remaining 60% is complexed, primarily with albumin. Ionized calcium is the only type of calcium that can be carried into cells and used metabolically. Calcium ionization (free) fraction decreases cause a variety of symptoms. Low calcium absorption, vitamin D or K2 insufficiency, chronic renal failure, and hypoparathyroidism are the most prevalent causes of hypocalcemia, or low calcium levels. 10
Risks of High Calcium Intake: There are a variety of causes that might cause blood calcium levels to rise. Although the body has a built-in regulatory system for calcium absorption and maintenance, elevated calcium levels can be caused by underlying disorders, pharmaceutical interactions, or abuse of supplements.
An abnormally high calcium level can cause serious health concerns and necessitates medical attention. Although calcium in the diet is generally healthy, too much calcium does not provide further bone protection. Calcium from food and supplements that surpasses the tolerated upper limit can lead to kidney stones, prostate cancer, constipation, calcium buildup in blood vessels, and iron and zinc absorption problems.
Calcium levels can be raised above normal by taking calcium supplements and eating calcium-fortified meals. As a result, adhering to the RDA and not exceeding the appropriate amount is critical. 10
The best method to deal with calcium insufficiency is to avoid it in the first place. Risk factor modification is critical, and pharmacists may help a lot in this area. They can suggest calcium and vitamin D supplements that are right for you. Individuals at risk of low calcium should consume calcium- and vitamin-D-rich foods and beverages, quit smoking, and increase weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening activity. Monitoring one’s BMI as one gets older is also important for preventing bone fractures.
What factors aid calcium absorption?
Vitamin D is required for calcium absorption. A few foods, such as canned salmon with bones and egg yolks, naturally contain tiny levels of vitamin D. Fortified meals and sun exposure are other good sources of vitamin D. For most adults, the RDA for vitamin D is 600 international units (15 micrograms) per day.
Is almond milk a pro-inflammatory beverage?
Dairy promotes intestinal inflammation in a large portion of the population. Milk has a tendency of inflaming the intestines and making you feel bloated, even if you don’t notice it on the outside. Assuming you don’t have a nut allergy, almond milk will not cause you to become inflamed. It has a calming effect on the intestines and, in most situations, has no detrimental effects on the digestive system.
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.