Milk Myth Busting

cow-udderI was in Colorado last week visiting my family & friends and doing some snowboarding.  I always look forward to seeing my family!  Ok, I think I’m now traveled out from my recent Oregon trip and family Colorado visit .  I can’t wait to relax this weekend!

Let’s talk about the “supposed” best source of calcium: a.k.a: milk!

I was staying at a hotel with my parents and at the hotel lobby breakfast buffet, I saw a carton of milk with a hand drawn picture of a cow and the caption said:

“Drinking milk is an excellent source of calcium.” Or IS IT???

Then I looked up at the milk refrigerator and it said “Healthy Milk.”

I thought to myself, wow, I can’t believe the advertising, and people actually believe this stuff….It may contain calcium, but an excellent source?  I don’t think so!  I want to debunk that myth for you right now.

Americans consume a lot of milk annually along with Scandinavian countries, and many European countries.

In fact, we’re in the top 12  consumers of milk among all the countries in the world, yet the United States along with Europe account for more than half of all bone fractures in the world.  And the incidences of osteoporosis in these countries are increasing every year.  How does this happen if we are consuming cartons and cartons of milk, which is supposedly good for developing strong bones?  Why do we have high incidences of osteoporosis?

Because we’re not really consuming the BEST source of calcium that’ s easy for our body’s to absorb and milk actually has an adverse affect on our body’s.  In the Journal of Nutrition studies have shown that milk actually contributes to osteoporosis due to the high amounts of protein and the body’s inability to properly digestive, assimilate and absorb calcium form cows milk. Wow!

The truth is there are SO MANY better food options for obtaining calcium in your diet than milk. There is a list of the top 120 foods containing the most amount of calcium per gram, and this list was created by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture).

Do you want to know what’s at the top of the list? Seeds! Nuts! Leafy Greens! Seaweed.  Where is cows milk?! Down around #50. Pretty shocking, huh?!   Gram for gram, milk is beat out by 50 plant based calcium rich foods!

Maybe we think milk is at the top of the calcium list because we see magazine ads showing athletes with the famous milk mustache or the “Milk, it does a body good” commercial, or the happy cow cheese commercials.  These are all paid for by the National Dairy Counsel to promote their product, milk! So their message is going to be somewhat skewed. Right?  Just like the ad’s in the Breakfast buffet area I’m sitting in now.

Some of the best sources may be very surprising to you. You can get plenty of calcium and minerals from kale, leafy greens, legumes, sesame seeds, chia seeds, broccoli and tahini, among so many others.

Also, in order to create healthy and strong bones, you need more than calcium, you need minerals and phospholipids to help bind the calcium to make the bone matrix. That’s why greens and plant-based calcium are much better for you, because they contain the minerals that your body needs like vitamin D, potassium, magnesium and fatty acids.

There is a study by the American Heart Association that found that vegetarian sources of calcium are more efficiently absorbed and that vegetarians retain more of their calcium from plant-based sources than non-vegetarians.

At the Centre for Nutrition and Food Safety, School of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences, University of Surrey, in the UK, a study was conducted to determine the impact of a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet and a vegan diet on bone mass.  The findings were published in the Osteoporosis International Journal and they found that the bone mass of vegetarians and vegans was of “normal bone mass.”

I was just talking to my client this morning and sharing with her about milk and debunking the calcium myth.  She said her fmaily is 3 generations vegetarian from India and they drink very little milk and they don’t have concerns or problems with osteoporosis in her family.  This got me really excited to hear this from someone I know.

Why is this significant?  Over half of us are lactose intolerant and have trouble digesting and assimilating milk.  The body’s inability to properly digest milk can cause so many health problems. And so many people overlook these health problems because we’re told milk is good for us.

Here are just a few of the health problems caused by drinking milk. This is the tip of the iceberg

  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Intestinal disorders
  • Abdominal pains- constipation, diarrhea
  • Sinus Congestion
  • Ear Aches
  • Asthma
  • Skin eruptions
  • Allergies
  • Aggravated rosacea

Here are just a few of the foods that blow milk out of the water with their calcium content.

  • Raw almonds (over double the mg of calcium)
  • Sesame seed butter/tahini (triple the mg of calcium as milk)
  • White beans (double the calcium as milk)img_0102
  • Flax seeds (almost double the calcium of milk)
  • Kidney beans (you get the idea, more calcium)
  • Turnip greens
  • Dandelion greens
  • French beans
  • Brazil nuts
  • Seaweed
  • Navy beans
  • Collard greens
  • Dried figs
  • Mung beans
  • Raw parsley

You get the idea, so if you already eat these foods and foods like them.  Congratulations! You are truly doing something excellent for your bod.

Quick thought: What do cows eat for strong bones???? MILK???? No, green grass!!!

TIP: In the morning I add chia seeds or sesame seeds to my smoothie for  calcium and also for the texture!  Remember to keep it green by adding either Kale, spinach or green powder to your smoothie!

For fast, yummy, healthy vegetarian meal plans, check out for more nutrient-rich and calcium-packed foods!

Be Vibrant,easy-veggie-meals-ebook

Kardena Pauza,

Author of

90 day vegetarian weight loss program

54 Comments Leave a Comment

Comment by Andrew Lowry
2010-01-23 08:51:38

Could you please point me to the USDA list that you reference? I would like to know which foods I am currently eating that are high in calcium and which ones I should add to my diet.

Comment by Kardena Pauza
2010-01-27 23:01:27

Not sure if you got my last comment.
Check out

Comment by Eleanor Carson
2010-01-25 00:12:28

I’ve been avoiding milk products for years, as I seem to be lactose-sensitive. Consequently, I have great difficulty consuming enough calcium on a low-calorie diet. Aside from sardines and almonds, I didn’t know what healthy calcium sources were available.

One question: It is difficult to obtain raw nuts where I live. Yet roasted almonds contain rancid oils and I would guess the nutritional profile has suffered in other ways. Do you think the calcium and minerals in roasted almonds is still a good source of nutrition, or do the rancid oils preclude this?

Thank you very much for this list!


Comment by Kardena Pauza
2010-01-27 23:05:57

Hi Eleanor,
whether nuts are roasted or not they contain the same amount of calcium, however yes you do now have deal with the heated oils. There are lots of calcium sources that are very low in oils and calories.
Broccoli,white beans, Chinese cabbage, and lots more! Check out

To your Vibrant Health,

Comment by Inogen MacKenzie
2010-01-25 01:06:32

Thank you!
If only governments would behave responsibly and stop the lies of these advertising people . . .
I pray for the day when animals are no longer abused – keep up your contribution to this!

Comment by Kardena Pauza
2010-01-28 00:19:43

I agree, let’s keep sharing!

Comment by Kevin Lin
2010-01-25 03:07:48

I have one question: since whey and cheese are made from milk, do they have the same negative effects on our bones as well? Or are they safer to eat?

Comment by Kardena Pauza
2010-01-28 00:29:00

Hi Kevin,
Cheese contains the same properties as milk with the added concentration of milk protein. Add on top of that saturated fats. Whey is a concentrated protein and I wouldn’t recommend using it regularly since the liver can become taxed while trying to break down the whey.
They both have a bone leaching affect on our bodies yes. Read the comment I wrote to address everyone’s comments.

Wishing you wellness,

Comment by Claus Schiko
2010-01-25 04:50:31

Love this article Kardena, it’s about time that we learn more about the “facts” of milk. Also what other animal in the animal kingdom, drinks another animals milk?

I don’t drink any milk any more, only have few drops in my coffee, and I feel stronger and healthier than ever.

Good points about the strong bones

Comment by Kardena Pauza
2010-01-28 00:29:49

Hi Claus,
That’s wonderful! Love to hear it.
Big high five,

Comment by Anderson Mndala
2010-01-25 04:55:03

Thanks for your article. Any time my wife drinks milk she does have diarrhea and much gas. From what I have read which I have copied for her, I will enjoy the other calcium contributors. Here in Malawi, Central Africa, Mangos are at its peak and I don’t know what we pick from them. Most common veg here are Chinese, rape and other few and pumpkin and bean leaves.

Thank you once more for these wonderful and inspiring materials you freely send to us.


Comment by Kardena Pauza
2010-01-28 00:31:41

Hello Anderson,

Sounds like you have some great foods in Central Africa! Check out the comment I wrote below responding to everyone’s comments.

With light,

Comment by Camille Ivy
2010-01-25 05:19:23

You have given me an idea about milk thanx. That is also the reason why I never give formula milk for my son. My question is if other beans are also rich in calcium aside from what you have given above?

Comment by Kardena Pauza
2010-01-28 00:41:44

Hi Camille,
yes there are other beans that are a great source of calcium.
Great northern beans- 1 cup = 124 mg
Navy beans- 1 cup= 126 mg
white beans 1 cup= 191 mg
to name a few.

To your health,

Comment by jan
2010-01-25 05:40:17

I have always hated milk, and am so glad to not have to feel like I have to drink it for calcium!! My family has started eating alot of raw spinach,and I know I am getting my calcium that way. Yea!!

Comment by Kardena Pauza
2010-01-28 00:42:00


Comment by LIlah
2010-01-25 05:44:57

See, my mom brought us up on a lot of milk. She loves it, and so as a child I was drinking a lot of milk and cocoa and eating lots of yoghurt. And to be honest, although I know that it’s not that good for me, I still love it (although I only have milk in my oatmeal and tea in the morning and maybe a yoghurt during the day).

I used to have soy milk with my cereal, but I was told that’s bad for me too.

So if I like milk and yoghurt, what other options do I have?

Comment by Kardena Pauza
2010-02-04 01:11:06

Hi Lilah,
I know I grew up with milk, cheese and dairy too. I used to love it! Sometimes we eat what I call “comfort foods” and this may be one of yours. Do your best to eat limited amounts of it.
A substitute for milk and soy milk is almond milk. You can make it yourself if you don’t have it at your local store. Several grocery stores in our area carry it, so check it out! It tastes great too!

Comment by Lynn
2010-01-25 07:04:02
here is a usda food search database. you can look up almost anything. i did a comparison on the almonds versus skim milk. yes, almonds had like 378 mg calcium in one cup & milk had 200? BUT almond had over 800 calories and the milk had 80calories. PLUS. what do baby cows drink to make their bones strong, which by the way, would be the most important bone growth period in the cows life? THEY DRINK COWS MILK!!! sometimes you have to look at a bigger picture. not just the amount of calcium in almonds but the calories too. not just what do cows eat AND DRINK when in their lives, etc. i am all for a healthy diet. GOD gave us MANY plants AND animals to use to benefit our bodies.

Comment by Kaela
2010-01-25 09:01:43

So maybe human babies should not drink cow’s milk, but human milk! Do goats drink cow milk when they’re babies? Right, how about horses? Cow’s milk? No. Instead of shoving cows milk down our throats, maybe food companies should be giving us healthier choices. Just some food for thought.

Comment by Andrew Lowry
2010-01-26 01:33:26

Kaela the only thing going down your throat is what you put in there. No one is shoving it in there. There are many food choices out there. The more people choose healthy choices the more that will grow in supply. It is interesting that 10 years ago fresh fruit was not seen in gas station stores or airports, now it is quite common. I make a point of buying it to continue its growth as an option.

(Comments wont nest below this level)
Comment by Kardena Pauza
2010-01-28 00:51:15

Yes I see Kaela’s frustration with being “fed” this information as the truth about dairy. I have felt that way too. Yes we have to keep voting with our voices, requests, and our wallets. I have been excited too to see healthy foods showing up in the most unlikely places. I agree and sometimes I am a pain in the butt asking for special changes to a salad, but guess what, it helps them realize what the public wants and they gradually make changes.

Comment by Andrew Lowry
2010-01-26 01:38:36

Lynn, thanks for that link. Very useful. I will have book mark it.

Comment by Kardena Pauza
2010-01-28 00:46:11

Hi Lynn,
I want to address your comments.
If you would, read the comment I posted below to address your questions and comments. Not sure how we got focused on almonds because there are so many other foods that are high in calcium and low fat and calories as you’ll read in my comment.
Also baby cows wean themselves off milk. Their bodies accept milk for a certain amount of time before they transition to grass.


Comment by Dwight
2010-01-25 08:28:20

Maybe the BIG picture would be that calves drink cow’s milk and puppies drink dog’s milk. Milk is for babies and is designed by nature to provide specific nutrition needed during development by that species. If you insist that milk is good food for adult humans then you should at least drink milk designed for your species…human milk…not cow’s milk. Cow’s milk helps calves gain 500 pounds during the first months of their life. Does that sound like a good part of a healthy diet?

Comment by Kardena Pauza
2010-02-04 01:13:55

This is true Dwight. It’s a source for weight gain for growing mammals not grown mammals.

Comment by Sue
2010-01-25 08:35:44

Thanks so much for the article. Since I have lactose intolerance and some slight dairy allergies – milk is not on my food choice except for yogurt and kefir which I eat for healthy enzymes. The symptoms you discussed are exactly it. I was not sure what other foods got calcium but now with the list you have – this will work. I now drink soy milk and almond milk

Comment by Kardena Pauza
2010-02-04 01:15:40

Hi Sue,
Glad it helped out! You may want to look for coconut yogurt. We have that in our area now, so you can get the good bacteria without the dairy.
Enjoy Kardena

Comment by Steve
2010-01-25 08:38:28

Great post! Could you clarify on servings sizes relative to calories. In other words how many almonds/calories etc would it take to receive the equivalent portion of calcium from milk.

Would be helpful i want to eliminate dairy as much as i can from my diet but i dont want to gain weight by eating to many nuts. (which are calorically dense)

Comment by Kardena Pauza
2010-01-27 23:17:03

Hello Steve,
I wrote a longer comment to address your question about almonds, not sure how we got focused on only almonds. However a quick comparison of foods- 1 cup of collard greens cooked vs. 1 oz. of cheese and the winner are very similar in calcium. Now cheese contains higher saturated fat then collard greens. So collard greens win!

Comment by Joe
2010-01-25 09:53:30

Thanks Kardena for the excellent article. And thanks Lynn for your comment also.
I like to gather as much useful info as I can to help me in my quest for health, happiness and longevity. So far I’ve found “The China Study” by Campbell to be the most comprehensive study of nutrition and the long term effects of different diets.

In that study the consumption of animal products had a direct correlation with increased incidences of diseases that are most prevalent in developed countries.

There is a mountain of data in that study that was collected over a period of twenty seven years. I highly recommend it to anyone who is serious in studying the long term effects of different diets.

Comment by Kardena Pauza
2010-02-04 01:17:41

Hi Joe,
Yes I have heard of this book, it is top on my “to read” list. Thanks for the reminder. It seems when we get farther away from simple foods the more illnesses crop up.
Thanks for the info! Kardena

Comment by marg
2010-01-25 10:27:26

Ok fair enough there are other sources but milk has the convenience.. is there somewhere where it indicates how much of other sources to eat to get the recommended dose. Eating bowls of brocoli doesn’t appeal much.

as for do goat drink cow’s milk? come on people, what kind of comparison is that?! in the wild bet your bootie if a wolf can get other animals eggs or milk they eat it!

As for cow’s making milk from grass.. sure.. bc that’s how their system works and calcium is their digestive byproduct. they don’t get calcium from grass. We don’t have the enzymes to break down grass..

Comment by Kardena Pauza
2010-02-04 01:21:47

Hello Marg,

I wrote a response below you may want to read to answer your comments. Greens in many forms are high in calcium and alkalizing not just grass.

In regards to milk being easy/convenient.
We have habits of eating certain things and it makes life easier, you don’t have to think about it. It’s a matter of changing habits then your new routine will become “easy” over time. So make other foods convenient and easy to eat rather than milk for calcium.
That’s just what I’ve noticed for myself if it helps.

Comment by Annitta
2010-01-25 10:41:50

Getting of the topic of milk, which I have never drank even as a kid.
But I was interested in beans of all kinds. They are very nutritional, but can you eat them raw? Or do you sprout them?
I have always cooked the beans and added them to my salad greens.
Thank-you for the reply, you are doing a great job.
Way to go.

Comment by Kardena Pauza
2010-02-04 01:24:43

Hello Annitta,

Yes beans are very nutritious. And yes, you can soak and sprout beans! It takes 2-3 days to sprout them. Check out my past blog post on how to sprout mung beans and this is how you would sprout any bean including lentils. The will store in the frig for about 5 days.

Live Vibrant!

Comment by Lynn
2010-01-25 10:45:24

BTW-all 4 of my kids were breastfed, 9m, 15m, 22m, 33m when weaned…so i DEFINITELY believe babies should consume species specific milk.

i obviously am not a vegetarian, although i do believe a person should consume vegetables mainly, then fruits, grains, etc in their diets, i don’t know if vegetarians breastfeed their infants. if they don’t, i believe it would be harmful to the infant as this is they way we were ultimately made to thrive.

the typical american diet is terrible healthwise. our kids are getting fatter, we ALL are getting fatter. more processed food, more fast food, more soda, more juice (juice? i thought that was healthy? nope, try eating the fruit, that way you get ALL the benefits, the fiber, etc, not just the sugar) how about a typical granola bar? not much better than a candy bar.

Comment by Kardena Pauza
2010-02-04 01:28:52

Hello Lynn,

I’m excited to hear you breastfed. When I talk about milk, I’m talking about cows milk not being good for human consumption and I’m sure many vegetarians breastfeed as this is natural for a baby and very much needed.

I’m with you about the typical S.A.D. diet (standard American diet). Things need to change. In my free fat loss report I mentions pretty much all the foods you just mentioned. We are on the same page!

You go girl!

Comment by Gail
2010-01-25 16:26:23

I breast fed all my children for over a year and they had very little calcium in the form of milk as they, like their father, appeared to have been intolerant to it. I am a vegetarian/nutritionist so I knew it was not strictly necessary. In those days, there were no packaged rice milks or nut milks…I made the “milk” myself from nuts and oats and my kids are all over 6 ft and healthy as horses!

Comment by Kardena Pauza
2010-02-04 01:40:06

Hello Gail,

Wow! I acknowledge you for being a strong mother and doing what ever it took to provide for your family!
That’s a really amazing testimonial to not needing dairy in the diet.
Thank you so much for sharing.

Live vibrant,

Comment by Trevor
2010-01-25 21:59:15

This is a fascinating article and raises some very contraversial issues.I love milk cheese and ice cream and have very very few health problems.The bloggers above raise some most interesting points and I think Kardena needs to give her rsponse especially to breast feeding, roasted almands and cheese, all of which I support unreservedly

Comment by Kardena Pauza
2010-02-04 01:40:56

Hi Trevor,

Look back on my responses and my long comment below. They are very good points:)

Comment by Trevor
2010-01-25 22:02:05

what is URI.My comment was ignored .Kardena should respond to the comments

Comment by ruth pope
2010-01-26 02:10:59

i would suggest that everyone should read Your Life In Your Hands by Prof. Jane Plant or at least visit her website

Comment by Kardena Pauza
2010-02-04 01:41:15

Thanks Ruth!

Comment by Quijas
2010-01-26 11:15:34


Just a simple question to think about. Why are humans the only animal that habitually ingest he milk of another animal.

Lots of animals eat the eggs of other animals, and or the meat of other animals — but only humans eat so much milk and milk products — probably because we are lazy, not because it makes good sense.

Comment by Kardena Pauza
2010-02-04 01:42:16

Interesting point. We have also been told for decades that milk is a great source of milk, so we’ve been programmed to think this.

Comment by meredith
2010-01-26 12:00:53

PLEASE provide the link to the USDA site which supports these facts. When I search their site, all the info I find is contradictory to support what you claim here.

Don’t get me wrong – I hate milk and I am allergic to it – but I would like to have the data to support myself if I use these claims in an argument.

Comment by Kardena Pauza
2010-02-04 01:45:10

Another point to remember is just because milk contains calcium does not mean your body can absorb it. Cows milk is hard to digest and the calcium to phosphorus ratio inhibits a majority of the calcium to be absorbed. So more calcium doesn’t necessarily mean more in your body.

Check out the comments I made to other peoples comments and the long comment I made below, this should help you find the info.

Comment by Kardena Pauza
Comment by Kardena Pauza
2010-01-28 00:17:30

I’m so glad to see everyone stepping up and having such good questions and comments about the topic of milk. I take it upon myself to talk about topics that are thought provoking. Milk/dairy is one of them since it is interwoven into the fabric of our societal lifestyle.

The topic of dairy and best sources of calcium has so many facets and dimensions to it. I just skimmed the surface of calcium. I may need to write a whole other blog to go more in depth!
Let me do my best to address everyone’s questions here in a single post so I can get you a quicker response.
I see one of the questions brought up was the comparison of almonds to milk. I have several points to make about that.

1. I created a list of foods that contain calcium so let’s not go way off topic by over focusing on almonds and eating 1 cup of almonds vs. 1 cup of milk. There are soo many other foods that are low in calories that are loaded with calcium.

Remember, there are other factors that come in to play here in regards to absorption besides high calcium content, for example- the bodies ability to breakdown the food, other minerals that are needed to bind the calcium, the amount of weight bearing exercise a person participates in, and the types of other foods a person eats can all affect the absorption of calcium. And yes, the western diet comes under scrutiny here for contributing to bone loss as some studies have shown (Brithish Journal of Nutrition 2003, Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Toronto).

2. I had reported in my article that the vegetarians studied had normal bone mass, so there are other factors at work here along with eating calcium rich foods. As we look at other societies who are healthy it gives us greater insight into our best options for calcium and other vital nutrients.

3. The reason cows milk is hard for us to digest is that when we grow out of our toddler years, our bodies stop producing lactase which is an enzyme that breaks down milk sugar called lactose, and yes there is a good amount of sugar in milk. Babies produce lactase for obvious reasons of digesting milk. As an adult, our bodies do not produce this important enzyme which gives us a clue that we are not designed to ingest cow’s milk when we get older and it becomes a toxin to the body causing inflammation, congestion, allergies, respiratory problems, etc… A similar situation happens in our bodies with attempting to digest the protein molecules of milk which gives our body adverse reactions and overloads the immune system.

4. Cows milk contains nutrients baby cows need to gain weight and grow fast, however their bodies also naturally wean off of cows milk. So if calf’s wean off cows milk, why are we still drinking it as adults?

5. For strong bones cows eat grass that’s loaded with calcium and minerals. It’s true we don’t have the stomach to digest grass, however we do have other greens and grasses that give us the same benefits as grass does for cows that our bodies can digest.

6. Dr. Robert Young also sites the sugar effect of milk on the bones. The sugar in milk (lactase) causes an acidic blood pH causing the body to pull calcium from the bones to neutralize the acidity to bring the blood back into balance. This causes thinning of the bones over time. This could answer one of the facets for why dairy consumption leads to osteoporosis.
Check this book out for a quick read about milk to also help you make your own decision and navigate this tough topic. “Don’t Drink Your Milk!” -New Frightening Medical Facts About the World’s Most Overrated Nutrient (Paperback)
~ Frank A. Oski (Author)

Some people have sited some other great books in the comment section to check out on dairy consumption and its effects on the human body. Thanks everyone for your contributions.

Bottom line, know your options for obtaining calcium rather than relying on mostly dairy products. There are so many other sources that have way less side effects. I’m not saying you have to be completely dairy free, I choose to be but that is my personal choice through experience and research. I encourage you to live and learn also and be your optimal self.


Comment by April
2010-03-13 17:29:09

Hi Kardena, Why don’t you put your books on Amazon. I order from there alot!I am in Wpg.MB.Canada and also on your facebook. I would like to have the books that you sell, but you do not ship to Canada.

Comment by Kardena Pauza
2010-06-09 19:41:42

Hi April,
My book is currently an Ebook which means there is no shipping needed. As soon as you purchase the book, you will be able to download it straight to your computer. You will have it instantly.

Comment by Wayne
2010-09-29 06:23:33

here in England when I was a child in the 60′s there a was a massive advertising campaign for milk as its ‘nutritional goodness’, back then our local petrol stations (sorry ‘gas’ stations) had localy sourced fresh fruit and vegetables sold off the forecourt. But the big companies stopped that.

6 years ago I started to get abdominal cramps, diarrhea and passing blood – this apparently was a massive re-action to the hormones and steroids fed to the animals that I was eating both in meat and milk ! So now except for eggs twice a month and milk in my tea twice a day sourced from a local Organic dairy farm, I don’t eat any Animal products, I also don’t eat any processed Soya products or meat substitues.

I suffer from secondary Osteoarthritis and my diet change has literaly changed my Life. in the first 9 months I lost 20 lbs through changing. Then 3 years ago I started Sun Power Yoga and have lost a further 32 lbs and 5 inchs of my waist. over my kitchen door is the motto ” eat well, exercise, live well”

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