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
How is calcium added to almond milk?
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 it possible to absorb calcium from milk?
Calcium in meals like milk and milk products is highly bioavailable, which means it can be absorbed quickly. Calcium from foods strong in oxalic acid (spinach, sweet potatoes, and beans) or phytic acid (unleavened bread, raw beans, seeds, and nuts) may, however, be poorly absorbed.
Is almond milk as calcium-rich as ordinary milk?
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
- Published 2/18/19 in Infectious Diseases A-Z: Raw milk, cheese linked to brucellosis
- How to Get Calcium Without Dairy Products (Mayo Clinic Minute) published on September 19, 2018
Which milk is the most calcium-absorbent?
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.
Which milk substitute contains the least calcium?
Almonds and rice, on the other hand, have even less calcium in their natural state. 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.
What is the most effective method of calcium absorption?
Calcium is a mineral that the body requires in order to function properly. Calcium is naturally present in some foods and is supplemented in others. It’s also sold as a dietary supplement and is found in some medications like Tums.
Why does the body need calcium?
Calcium is an important mineral for strong bones. The bones and teeth store almost 99 percent of the calcium in the body. It is the mineral that gives them their hardness and sturdiness. The remaining 1% is required for a variety of actions that keep the body running smoothly. Calcium aids in the contraction (narrowing) and expansion of blood vessels, the contraction of muscles, the transmission of messages through the nervous system, and the secretion of hormones by glands.
Every day, calcium travels in and out of bones, causing them to be rebuilt. The body develops new bone quicker than it breaks down existing bone in children and teenagers, resulting in an increase in total bone mass. This continues until around the age of 30, when new bone production and old bone disintegration begin to occur at a similar rate. Bone is broken down quicker than it is created in older adults, particularly postmenopausal women. Osteoporosis can be exacerbated by a lack of calcium in the diet.
How much calcium does an adult need to take in every day?
The amount of calcium required for strong bones and teeth varies with age. Adults should consume the following amounts per day, according to the National Institutes of Health:
What are the best ways to get enough calcium?
The easiest method to ensure that you get enough calcium each day is to eat a wide variety of healthful meals from several food groups. To help the body absorb and utilise calcium from diet, getting adequate vitamin D every day from foods like fortified milk or from natural sunlight is critical.
- Calcium is found in the highest concentration in dairy products. Milk, yogurt, and cheese are examples of dairy products. A cup of milk (eight ounces) has 300 milligrams of calcium. Skim, low fat, and whole milk all have the same amount of calcium.
- Calcium is abundant in dark green, leafy vegetables. Broccoli, kale, and collard greens are all high in calcium when eaten raw or moderately heated. (Boiling veggies can strip them of a lot of their minerals.)
- About 200 mg of calcium is found in a serving of canned salmon or sardines. It’s present in the fish’s soft bones.
- Cereal, pasta, breads, and other grain-based foods can help you get more calcium in your diet. Look for mineral-fortified cereals, such as calcium-fortified cereals.
- Calcium is sometimes added to fruit juices, soy and rice beverages, and tofu, in addition to cereal. Check the label to see if a food item has been supplemented with calcium.
The United States Department of Agriculture recommends that everyone aged 9 and up consume three servings of dairy foods every day.
Should I take a calcium supplement?
The meals we consume and the beverages we drink are the main sources of calcium. Instead of relying solely on supplements, most healthy patients should eat a well-balanced diet.
If you don’t obtain enough calcium from food and beverages every day, you may need to take a calcium supplement. Lactose intolerance can make it difficult for people to receive adequate calcium from their diet alone. Furthermore, those who have issues with calcium absorption owing to gastrointestinal disease may not get enough calcium. Those who have a vegan diet or who consume a lot of protein and sodium may be deficient in calcium.
What type of calcium supplement should I take?
The amount of calcium absorbed from supplements is determined by the supplement’s structure, how well the calcium dissolves in the intestines, and the body’s calcium levels. Calcium carbonate and calcium citrate are the two most often utilized calcium compounds.
Calcium carbonate pills dissolve better in an acidic environment, therefore it’s best to take them with food. Because calcium citrate supplements do not require acid to dissolve, they can be taken at any time. As a result, patients who have trouble absorbing drugs should use calcium citrate rather than calcium carbonate. Those who take drugs to reduce stomach acid are included in this category (such as over-the-counter and prescription heartburn medications). Calcium citrate, rather than calcium carbonate, may be beneficial to persons who have had intestinal bypass surgery or who are 65 years or older.
The less calcium is absorbed, the larger the dose. A single dose of calcium of no more than 500 mg should be given for optimum absorption. Take dosages at least four hours apart if you need more than 500 mg as a supplement. Ask your doctor or a dietician for a recommendation if you think you need a calcium supplement.
What happens if I take too much calcium?
Adults between the ages of 19 and 50 should not consume more than 2,500 mg of calcium per day (including food and supplements). Adults over the age of 50 should not consume more than 2,000 mg per day. Calcium in the diet is generally considered safe, but too much calcium in the form of supplements may pose a health concern. Too much calcium can cause kidney stones, constipation, and even calcium accumulation in your blood vessels, as well as make it harder to absorb iron and zinc.
What happens when the body does not get enough calcium?
Calcium is required for the development of strong bones in children. Calcium is required by adults in order to maintain strong bones. Inadequate calcium consumption can lead to osteoporosis, a brittle bone condition, over time. Broken bones are common in people with osteoporosis, especially in the wrist, hip, and spine. Chronic (long-term) pain and impairment, loss of independence, a lower quality of life, and an increased chance of death are all consequences of these fractures.
Osteoporosis can cause the vertebrae (the bones that make up the spine) to shatter. This causes the spine in certain places to collapse, resulting in pain, difficulty moving, and eventual deformity. If the condition is serious enough, it can lead to the formation of a “dowager’s hump,” a curvature of the upper back.
Who develops osteoporosis?
The National Institutes of Health estimates that half of all women over 50 and a quarter of all males over 50 will break a bone as a result of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is most common in postmenopausal white and Asian women. In women with osteoporosis, about 25% will develop a vertebral deformity, and 15% will shatter their hip. Men can also break their hips due to osteoporosis, though not as frequently as women. Hip fractures are linked to an increased risk of death in the first year following the break.
- Breast cancer therapies, seizure drugs, and steroids are all examples of pharmaceuticals that can be used.
What are the symptoms of osteoporosis?
Bone loss symptoms do not appear until osteoporosis has progressed. Osteoporosis may not cause any symptoms at all in its early stages. As osteoporosis progresses, the following symptoms may appear:
How is osteoporosis diagnosed?
Outward indications of osteoporosis (height loss, easily shattered bones, dowager’s hump) when combined with a patient’s gender and age are powerful indicators of osteoporosis. The state-of-the-art approach for evaluating bone mineral density (how much calcium is in the bones) and diagnosing osteoporosis is dual X-ray absorptiometry (DXA).
How can osteoporosis be prevented?
- Regular exercise, particularly weight-bearing activities such as walking or jogging, is beneficial.
All women aged 65 and over should have a DXA bone density examination, according to the US Preventive Services Task Force. They also suggested that women under the age of 65 who are at risk for fractures do a screening test. This test determines the strength of the bones so that, if necessary, fracture prevention measures can be implemented.
- 8 ounces, 105250 mg per serving, instant breakfast drink, various flavors and brands, powder prepared with water
- 1 cup fresh cooked kale (94 mg per serving) 1 cup raw, chopped kale (90 milligrams per serving)
- 1/2 cup 138 mg per serving soft tofu prepared with calcium sulfate 1/2 cup vanilla ice cream, 84 mg per serving
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.
What gets in the way of calcium absorption?
Here are some important elements that can influence how well your body absorbs calcium.
- A high-phytic acid diet Phytic acid, which is found in the bran covering of whole grains, binds calcium and other minerals, rendering them insoluble and inaccessible in the intestines. Your calcium is thus excreted without being absorbed by your body. If you eat a lot of whole-grain bread and cereal, calcium-fortified items might be worth a try.
- High sodium levels Too much salt can prevent calcium from being absorbed. More information regarding salt and bone health can be found here.
- Vitamin D deficiency Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption.
- Consumption of coffee (and tea) Caffeine in coffee, tea, and most sodas serves as a mild diuretic, causing essential calcium to be expelled before the body can utilise it. Small amounts of these drinks are typically innocuous, but excessive consumption can result in impaired absorption.
- Smoking Studies reveal that smokers have lower bone mass. The cause for this is unknown, although it appears that smoking inhibits calcium absorption in the intestines. STOP SMOKING IMMEDIATELY.
- Celiac disease is a type of celiac disease that affects the small intestin Gluten intolerance is a symptom of this autoimmune disease that runs in families. In both children and adults, it is frequently undiagnosed. Celiac disease affects the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and minerals like vitamin D and calcium by altering the lining of the intestine. Celiac illness puts you at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis.
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, read the ingredient lists carefully and choose products 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.