Don’t drink milk? Here’s how to get enough calcium and other nutrients

Cow’s milk is a excellent source of calcium which, along with vitamin D, is necessary for build strong and dense bones.

Milk also contains protein, the minerals phosphorus, potassium, zinc and iodine, and vitamins A, B2 (riboflavin) and B12 (cobalamin).

As a child I drank a lot of milk. It was delivered in pint bottles to our front steps each morning. I also drank a third of a pint before leaving for class as part of the free school milk program. I still love milk, which makes it easy to get enough calcium.

Of course many people don’t drink milk for a number of reasons. The good news is that you can get all the calcium and other nutrients you need from other foods.

What foods contain calcium?

Dairy products such as cheese and yogurt. they are rich in calcium, while non-dairy foods such as tofu, canned fish with bones, green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds contain varying amounts.

Some foods are fortified with added calcium, including some breakfast cereals and soy, rice, oat, and nut “milks.” Check your food label nutritional information panels to see how much calcium they contain.

However, it is harder for your body to absorb calcium of non-dairy foods. Although your body gets better at absorbing calcium from plant foodsand also when your total calcium intake is lowThe overall effect means that if you don’t have dairy, you may need to eat more calcium-containing foods to maximize your bone health.

Tofu is just a source of calcium.

How much calcium do you need?

Depending on your age and gender, the daily calcium requirements they range from 360 milligrams per day to more than 1,000 mg for adolescents and older women.

A 250 ml cup of cow’s milk contains about 300 mg of calcium, which is equivalent to a standard serving. Is the same amount is in:

  • 200 grams of yogurt
  • 250 ml of calcium-enriched vegetable milk
  • 100 grams of canned pink salmon with bones
  • 100 grams of firm tofu
  • 115 grams of almonds.
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The recommended number of daily servings of dairy and non-dairy alternatives varies:

  • kids Should have between 1 and 3.5 servings a day, depending on your age and gender

  • women ages 19-50 should have 2.5 servings daily, then 4 servings when over 50

  • men ages 19 to 70 should have 2.5 servings daily, then 3.5 servings when over 70.

However the average australian intake is only 1.5 servings per day, with only one in ten achieve recommendations.

Read more:
Soy, oats, almonds, rice, coconut, dairy: which ‘milk’ is better for our health?

What other nutrients do you need?

If you don’t drink milk, the challenge is getting enough nutrients to have a balanced diet. This is what you need and why.


Food sources: meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, legumes, dried beans, and tofu.

Necessary for cell growth and repair and to produce antibodies, enzymes, and specific transport proteins that carry chemical masses throughout the body.


Food sources: meat, poultry, shellfish, nuts, seeds, whole grains, dried beans, and lentils.

It strengthens bones and teeth, supports cell growth and repair, and is necessary for energy production.

Wholemeal loaf of bread.
Whole grains are a source of phosphorus, zinc and vitamin B12.


Food sources: Green leafy vegetables (spinach, silver beets, kale), carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, eggplant, beans and peas, avocados, apples, oranges, and bananas.

Needed to activate cells and nerves. It maintains fluid balance and helps with muscle contraction and blood pressure regulation.


Food sources: lean meats, chicken, fish, oysters, legumes, nuts, whole grain products and whole grains.

It helps with wound healing and the development of the immune system and other essential functions in the body, including taste and smell.

Chickpea curry with brown rice.
Legumes like chickpeas contain protein and zinc.


Food sources: fish, shrimp, other shellfish, iodized salt and commercial breads.

Necessary for normal growth, brain development, and used by the thyroid gland to produce the hormone thyroxine, which is necessary for growth and metabolism.

Vitamin A

Food sources: eggs, oily fish, nuts, seeds. (The body can also make vitamin A from beta-carotene in orange and yellow vegetables and green leafy vegetables.)

Necessary for the production of antibodies, the maintenance of healthy lungs and intestines, and for good vision.

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)

Food sources: whole grain breads and cereals, egg whites, green leafy vegetables, mushrooms, yeast spreads, meat.

Needed to release energy from food. It also supports eye and skin health.

Vitamin B12 (cobalamin)

Food sources: Meat, eggs, and most animal foods, some fortified non-dairy milks, and fortified yeast spreads (see label).

Needed to make red blood cells, DNA (your genetic code), myelin (which insulates nerves), and some neurotransmitters needed for brain function.

Read more:
What is a balanced diet anyway?

When might you need to avoid milk?

reasons Why don’t people drink milk? they range from taste, personal preferences, animal welfare or environmental concerns. Or it could be due to health conditions or concerns about intolerance, allergies and acne.

Lactose intolerance

Lactose is the main carbohydrate in milk. It is broken down into simple sugars by an enzyme in the small intestine called lactase.

Some people are are born without the enzyme lactase or their lactase levels are decreased as they age. For these people, eating foods that contain a lot of lactose means that it passes through the intestine undigested and can trigger symptoms like bloating, pain, and diarrhea.

The man holds his stomach after drinking a latte.
Lactose intolerance can cause bloating and pain.

Studies show small amounts of lactose – up to 15 grams daily – can be tolerated without symptoms, especially if spread throughout the day. A cup of cow’s milk contains about 16 grams of lactosewhile a 200g tub of yogurt contains 10g and 40g of cheddar cheese contains less than 1g.

cow’s milk allergy

cow’s milk allergy occur in about 0.5-3% of one-year-olds. By age five, about half are reported to have outgrown the disease, and 75% by adolescence. However, a survey found 9% of preschool children had a severe allergy with anaphylaxis.

Cow’s milk allergy symptoms include hives, rash, cough, wheezing, vomiting, diarrhea, or swelling of the face.

The severity of symptoms varies and can occur immediately or take a few days to develop. If a reaction is severe, call 000 as this may be a medical emergency.


The whey protein in cow’s milk products, as well as cheese, causes an increase in insulin, a hormone that transports blood sugar, which is released into the bloodstream.

Meanwhile, the protein casein in milk causes an increase in another hormone, called insulin-like growth factor (IGF), which influences growth.

These two reactions promote the production of hormones called androgenswhich can lead to a worsening of acne.

If this happens to you, then avoid milk, but continue to eat hard cheese and eat other calcium-rich foods regularly instead.

While milk can be problematic for some people, for most of us, drinking milk in moderation as recommended is the way to go.

Read more:
Is milk good for me or should I get rid of it?

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