5 Alternate Calcium Sources That Can Replace Milk
Yes, research says that calcium in milk can be replaced by other sources!
We’ve often been recommended to drink more milk for strong bones and immunity. But a 2014 research on this subject suggested that high milk consumption could lead to premature ageing, bone fractures and cancer.
Research also suggests that the calcium content in milk is only 120 mg. Various plant based foods, nuts and other foods contain higher amounts of calcium and hence a balanced meal consisting of calcium rich foods can easily replace milk.
Milk has always been in the spotlight for its health benefits. Being the primary source of calcium, health experts and nutritionists have emphasized the daily intake of milk especially during the growing years of a child.
Our parents made us drink milk every day, thanks to decades of public health messages such as, “Piyo doodh for healthy reason, rahoge phir fit aur fine, jiyoge past ninety-nine. Piyo glass full doodh…” This was one of Amul’s popular media campaigns that echoed through our television sets and radio during the 90’s, encouraging us to embrace cow’s milk as part of our daily life and most of us have continued the same with our children too.
Do We Really Need To Drink Milk?
Popular nutrition experts suggest that apparently we can do better without milk! “Drinking milk is not a need, nutrients found in milk can be obtained from other food sources such as whole grains, lentils and nuts,” says Dr Lovneet Batra. [Clinical Nutritionist, Fortis La Famme]
What Is Wrong With Milk?
Milk is perhaps the most common self-reported food allergen in the world
Doctors and nutrition experts now no longer recommend cow’s milk as the go-to source of calcium these days. Apart from lactose intolerance, they confirm that higher cases of adulteration and possible contamination of milk with growth hormones and antibiotics (which can lead to hormonal imbalance and drug resistance in our bodies) are alarming reasons for re-consideration.
Adulteration or adding unwanted ingredients to food may be intentional or unintentional. But they have proven to be fatal. The common adulterants are formalin, urea, starch, neutralizers (NaHCO3 , Na2 CO3 , NaOH, Ca(OH)2 etc.), detergents, sodium chloride, skim milk powder, sucrose, glucose/dextrose, and hydrogen peroxide. Some of these are referred to as solid-non-fats (SNF) and are used to cover the quantity of natural fats missing in the ‘watered’ milk. [Inputs from Milk Adulteration in Hyderabad, India]
Can We Completely Source Calcium From Foods Other Than Milk?
Milk can be extremely nourishing as long as it’s from a reliable source. However, nothing will be lost even if you completely eliminate milk from your everyday diet.
The main concern when children refuse to drink milk is deficiency of calcium. But “Nature has been kind in providing substitutes to everything you ask for.”
Calcium is one of the most plentiful minerals in the body. It is an indispensable nutrient required for many physiological functions in the body like blood vessel expansion and contraction, muscle contraction, secretion of hormones and enzymes, and transmitting signals throughout the nervous system.
Listed below are a comprehensive list of foods rich in calcium, easily available in our pantry and can be the perfect substitute for milk.
1. BASIL LEAVES
Hindi – Tulsi
Kannada – Tulasi / Amli / Huli
Tamil – Thulasi / Tirunirrippachai
Malayalam – Tulasi / Sivatulasi
100 grams of Tulsi Leaves contain 2240mg Calcium
Tulsi also known as basil leaves, is a fairly common plant in most Indian households. Considered holy by many religions, the tulsi plant is revered for its divine properties.
Besides praying to the plant, a number of people advice including the leaves and roots of the plant in various medical decoctions.
Tulsi is not just an excellent immunity booster but is also very rich in calcium.
2. SESAME SEEDS/ TIL
Hindi – Til
Kannada, Tamil, Telugu – Ellu
100 grams of Sesame Seeds contains 974 mg Calcium
Sesame Seeds may be tiny, but they have huge health benefits. They were worth their weight in gold during the Middle Ages, and for many good reasons!
The many health benefits of sesame seeds are due to its nutritional content, including vitamins, minerals, natural oils, and organic compounds which consist of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, manganese, copper, zinc, fiber, thiamin, vitamin B6, folate, protein, and tryptophan.
Super rich in calcium, sesame seeds can be converted to interesting recipes that can part of your regular diet.
3. AMARANTH LEAVES
Hindi – Chauli, Chavli leaves
Kannada – Dantina Soppu
Tamil – Thandu keerai or Mulai keerai
Malayalam – Cheera
100 grams of Amaranth Leaves contain 530mg Calcium
Amaranth Leaves are packed with antioxidants, protein, vitamins, calcium, iron, carbohydrates and minerals and it’s health benefits are numerous. This delicious and nutritious tropical plant is an excellent source of calcium and can be easily incorporated into our regular meals.
4. FINGER MILLET
Hindi – Ragi
Kannada – Mudde/ Hittu
Tamil – Kezhvaragu
Malayalam – Moothari
100 grams of Ragi/ Finger Millet contains 344mg Calcium
Ragi, a highly nutritious millet has numerous health benefits associated with it. It is loaded with calcium, proteins, iron, and other minerals. It is rich in fiber and contains very less unsaturated fat. Widely known as a wonder grain, the finger millet is a wonderful substitute for milk in our regular diet.
5. HORSE GRAM/ KULTHI
Hindi – Chane Ki Dal
Kannada – huralikaalu
Tamil – Kollu
Malayalam – Mudhira
100 grams of Horse Gram contains 287mg Calcium
Horse Gram can best be described as a reddish brown legume which is packed with a number of health benefits. It can help with a number of health problems as it is a grain which contains a good and rich amount of vitamins, proteins, and iron. Horse gram is rich in B-complex vitamin and proteins which makes it a wholesome food that should be added to our diet on a regular basis. This legume contains a significant amount of calcium and is an excellent food that can be used instead of milk.
In case your child is lactose intolerant or suffers from milk allergies, you don’t have to fret. These calcium sources more than suffice for the body’s requirements.