Hide This

FREEHER HealthToolkit

HER Health Toolkit

Sign up for EmpowHER updates and you'll receive our
FREE HER Health Toolkit

Bones & Joints

Get Email Updates

Resource Centers

Bones & Joints Guide

Maryann Gromisch RN Guide

Have a question? We're here to help. Ask the Community.

ASK

Health Newsletter

Receive the latest and greatest in women's health and wellness from EmpowHER - for free!

Milk or Green Leafy Vegetables: Which is Better for Calcium Absorption?

By Dr. Daemon Jones Expert HERWriter
 
Rate This
Milk or Green Leafy Vegetables: Which is Better for Calcium Absorption? 5 5 4
Bones & Joints related image
Photo: Getty Images

This weekend I was teaching a master’s of nutrition class and one of the questions that came up was, what is the best way to absorb calcium in the diet? The discussion revolved around whether vegetables or milk was a better way to get the calcium needed for good health and strong bones.

I find this to be a complicated question that is not answered by simply choosing either vegetables or milk. Here are the considerations I think about before answering this question.

If we start by looking at the calcium absorption differences between vegetables and milk, we find that there are several green, leafy vegetables that have higher absorption rates than milk. Dr. Fuhrman and Dr. Barnard, two physicians that have written articles about calcium absorption in foods, both share the following information.

Calcium absorption from milk is about 32 percent whereas some green, leafy vegetables have a calcium absorption rate of over 50 percent. Here are a few examples of the calcium absorption for vegetables:

Broccoli - 53 percent
Brussels sprouts - 64 percent
Mustard greens - 64 percent
Turnip greens - 52 percent
Kale - 40 to 59 percent

So while milk and dairy products have high amounts of calcium, only one-third of it is being absorbed. The green, leafy vegetables with higher absorption come very close to delivering similar amounts to the body as milk.

Another point about dairy products is that they, along with other processed foods and animal products, tend to produce a slightly acidic environment in the body. This cause calcium to be drawn out of the bones and into the body, where it gets excreted through the kidneys.

Green, leafy vegetables, like most other vegetables, tend to make the blood more alkaline which tends to cause calcium to remain in the bone matrix and continue to strengthen the bones.

When I take these two ideas together with the understanding that milk products, unless organic, generally contain steroids and growth hormone that further impacts or overall health, my recommendation is to use green, leafy vegetables as a better food source for calcium than milk products.

Live Vibrantly,

Dr. Dae

Add a Comment2 Comments

springs Blogger

I was diagnosed with osteopenia and have increased my dairy but after reading this article I think I will be increasing my green leafy vegetables instead.  I believe in natural calcium not tablets unless absolutely needed.

November 18, 2011 - 4:46pm
TheBoldBlend

Very well written. I've often noted that cultures where dairy consumption is low, calcium levels are not an issue as long as they are getting plenty of leafy greens.

November 18, 2011 - 3:25pm
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

Improved

1669 Health

Changed

624 Lives

Saved

471 Lives
4 lives impacted in the last 24 hrs Learn More

Take Our Featured Health Poll

Who do you trust for making healthy living/lifestyle choices? :
View Results