Ever since I was a kid I’ve hated the taste and consistency of milk – I know I’m not alone here. For a hot second in the early 2000’s I considered drinking it because Mary-Kate and Ashley were in a milk print ad and I was like “omg, Mary-Kate and Ashley drink milk, so I should drink milk” which is exactly what advertisers wanted! (Also, side note I was looking for that ad online and found an article about how it was ironic that they posed in the campaign because ‘milk makes you strong and grow tall’ but yet they are so short, and a few other articles about that campaign and I went down a deep rabbit hole.) Anywho, since I started studying nutrition I’ve been vindicated, dudes. You don’t need to drink milk to get strong bones at all!
All the milk hype started because it was a great source of calcium. Advertisers focused on calcium building strong bones, and that’s true. The New Optimum Nutrition Bible notes “nearly 3 pounds of your body weight is calcium, and 99 percent of this is in your bones and teeth.” But calcium is sooo much more than a one trick pony. As the most predominant mineral in our body, calcium helps our muscles contract, regulate our heartbeat, and maintain our acid-alkaline balance.
The standard american diet (SAD in more ways than one) prominently features milk and cheese as the best sources of calcium – but there are plenty of better, more nutrient-dense options. Sea vegetables (which are the most underrated, baller AF food group BTW), leafy greens, nuts and seeds, and even tofu are all excellent sources of calcium. Who knew!? See below for a few other surprising sources of calcium.
How can we get the most calcium out of these food sources? Remember when we learned about bioavailability – just because we eat a fruit or vegetable doesn’t mean we are reaping all of its benefits. Calcium is best absorbed when paired with vitamin D. So eat those veggies with some salmon, tuna, eggs, or shiitake mushrooms and you are definitely helping out your bod. Sardines are also a great source of vitamin D but I’ve only met two people ever who like them, my creative writing professor in college who ordered a sardine pizza and had it delivered to class, and my dad. Hi dad! Anywho, don’t feel like you’re missing out if you don’t like or just don’t care to drink milk. Eat your veggies and you’re golden!