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Sunday, January 22, 2017

Kids Health: Bone Health

Most mothers are worried about their child's intake of calcium rich foods..

As a child, I drank a 16 oz serving of milk twice a day, to have healthy bones and grow well ~

While the milk made me "feel" good and relaxed, it was also a constant source of the female hormone: Estrogen, and had been affecting levels of Insulin like Growth factor, and i was continuously gaining weight. Giving up milk in adulthood has helped me significantly in controlling and maintaining a healthy weight, and am always experimenting, adding back per my taste or feel for it.

As all of us have heard,  growing bodies and hence growing bones need calcium in their diet.

But did you know ?

  1. Calcium from our bones will dissolve in blood, and be excreted via the urine, if we have a  high intake of animal food, Salt, Caffeine or tobacco 
  2.  Bones need Magnesium ALSO to grow. Other than certain fish, substantial sources of Magnesium are mostly vegan, like dark leafy greens,  nuts and seeds, beans, lentils, whole grains, avocados, Dark Chocolate :) (among the best sources!!)
  3. Bones need Phosphorus to grow as well ! Pumpkin seeds (1 cup gives 159% DV), sesame seeds, Chia seeds, Brazil nuts (1 cup gives 73% DV), Beans and lentils (1 cup gives 39% DV) Salmon, are some good sources my family enjoys on a regular basis.
  4. Bones need the stimulus to grow. Weight bearing exercises and overall being active is highly required to stimulate bones to absorb calcium. 
  5. Vitamin D intake / synthesis is the primary gate to calcium absorption from diet. If deficient in Vitamin D, then be certain that the calcium from our bones is being leached out for use by the body, as the parathyroid hormone is secreted. 
    Vitamin D is like the "TRUMP CARD"  for calcium absorption !! Without this vitamin, all bets are lost. Such a helpless feeling ! Even if we're eating enough calcium rich foods, absence of vitamin D means we cannot absorb any of it !!!
So, I understand that milk and yogurt have been the most highly advertised and sought after sources of this mineral. Specially those fortified with Vitamin D.

But if you're taking a Vitamin D supplement, or getting enough by going out 15 minutes daily in afternoon sun, then there are multiple vegan as well as non-veg sources of calcium that I personally love that I'd like to share with you:

Vegan sources:
  • Almost all dark leafy greens except spinach (Collard Greens, Kale, Beet Greens) are my favorite way to stalk up on most nutrients, including calcium.


  • Okra has about 82 mg per cup !

  • Sesame Seeds contain 1000mg per 100 gm serving.

  • Pumpkin Seeds in 1 cup provide about 42% magnesium requirement and 3% of calcium requirement.

  • Chia Seeds in 1/2 cup provide us with 100% Calcium requirement and 800% magnesium requirement :). I love making vegan puddings or smoothies using chia seeds.

  • Canned Sardines: 10 oz fulfills daily requirement
  • Homemade Kefir / yogurt: 6 oz gives 30% daily requirement.

Raw Milk is also a great source, but I would personally not rely on it ALONE for my nutrition !!!
The hormone: tryptophan which helps to produce serotonin in the brain, is present in milk from mammals, and has this calming effect on it's babies..
And so cow's milk does on humans as well.

Although I'd say cow's milk is best suited to the calf, and it seems pretty unjust for us to keep the mother cow in perpetual pregnancy, so as to generate milk on which a whole generation of a totally different species depends for their nutrition, and even survival !!!....

Tryptophan is also found in large amounts in pumpkin seeds !!!

So I leave it up to you to decide what's best !
And next time you drink milk for it's calcium, I hope you will 'think' again !

Feel free to comment below, about your stories and experience with dairy, calcium, vitamin D, exercise, or anything you found interesting in this article !

Further reading:

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