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Exploring calcium: beyond milk for better health

Resident nutritionist Magdalena Marvell takes a look at the myth of milk and it’s calcium benefits.

Magdalena Marvell is a Nutritional Practitioner and Founder of the Persea Clinic which helps support clients who want to optimise their health in areas such as gut health, hormonal balance, skin conditions, weight management, family nutrition. To find out more about her work please visit www.persea.clinic.
In the world of nutrition, calcium has long been linked with milk, but recent discoveries cast doubt on this traditional notion. Is it truly necessary to depend on milk for our calcium needs?
 
Many of us were brought up believing that milk was the ultimate source of calcium, often coupled with vitamin D for better absorption. However, modern insights challenge this idea.
 
Contrary to popular belief, consuming large quantities of milk or taking calcium supplements doesn’t guarantee sufficient calcium intake. Instead, opting for a varied diet rich in plant-based foods proves to be a wiser, more effective approach to bolster overall health.
 
Our bodies possess remarkable abilities to absorb calcium, even with moderate consumption. Thus, simply consuming large quantities of milk or relying on supplements won’t necessarily result in stronger bones. Consider vegans, for instance—they forgo dairy yet obtain ample calcium from sources like green leafy vegetables, nuts, and seeds.
 
Plants offer a wealth of nutrients that benefit our health, highlighting the importance of dietary diversity. By incorporating a wide array of plant foods into our meals, we can ensure adequate calcium intake, alongside other essential nutrients such as phosphorus and protein crucial for bone health.
 
In the domain of sports nutrition, the traditional belief that dairy equates to bone strength is being challenged. Nature provides numerous alternative sources of calcium, including leafy greens, broccoli, tofu, nuts, and seeds, which can adequately meet an athlete’s needs for optimal performance.
 
Moreover, excessive consumption of calcium supplements may have adverse effects, such as an increased risk of cardiovascular disease1/2.
 
Therefore, it’s advisable to focus on obtaining nutrients from whole, natural foods rather than relying on supplements.
 
For athletes seeking to maintain peak performance and strong bones, a dietary shift towards nutrient-rich plant foods is recommended. Let’s move away from the milk-centric approach and embrace a plate filled with diverse foods.
 
In the context of osteoporosis prevention, nutrition plays a crucial role in mitigating fracture risks. Emphasising a holistic dietary approach beyond solely increasing calcium intake is essential3.
 
Consuming ample vegetables serves as a protective measure, while avoiding sodium-rich junk food and sugary drinks is vital for bone health4. Similar to managing other health conditions, integrating foods beneficial for osteoporosis into a balanced diet is key. Rather than relying solely on individual supplements, adopting a comprehensive dietary approach that includes a variety of nutrient-rich foods promotes bone strength and overall well-being.
 
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