Don’t Be Fooled--Calcium Content in Soy and Rice Milk Misleading


The Department of Agriculture recommends the consumption of 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams of calcium a day, depending on age and gender. Due to a variety of reasons, 30 million to 50 million Americans have shied away from cow’s milk and have turned to calcium-fortified beverages--like soy and rice milks--as alternative sources.

Yet according to studies, the actual amount of calcium available in these fortified drinks can be as much as 85 percent less than the amount indicated on the product label. This is because the calcium can settle out of the soy and rice beverages and form a calcium-sludge on the bottom of the carton.

Thus, shaking before pouring these beverages is crucial in order to:

  • Avoid calcium settlement
  • Obtain the intended calcium amount per serving

It was noted that calcium settlement is less of a problem in those beverages kept in the refrigerated dairy case of the grocery store, rather than in cartons stored on non-refrigerated shelves. Also, while calcium in cow’s milk occurs naturally, it must be added to soy and rice beverages (and even orange juice) in the form of finely ground calcium powders; soluble calcium cannot be used as well.

USA Today February 15, 2005

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

It seems inevitable that when one uses unnatural processed foods in exchange for real food there is a potential for serious complications. In this instance there are even deeper problems with soy than the one referenced in the above study, as soy-based products remain one of the five "health foods" you are better off avoiding.

Even more concerning is soy's effects on health as a result of its powerful phytoestrogen component. Many people feel these phytoestrogens that mimic the effects of the female hormone estrogen are beneficial, but these phytoestrogens have been found to have unacceptable side effects in a large number of clinical settings.

Soy promoters have been very effective in convincing large segments of the population that soy is a health food. When this is compounded with the fact that many people are appropriately avoiding commercial pasteurized dairy products, an immediate market for calcium enhanced soy milk developed. Well, it is logical to assume this would be a wonderful alternative however as in most processed foods, when examined more carefully the strategy falls apart.

I have run many articles that explain the problems with soy. But, if you don’t like to read articles and find books more helpful, the most well referenced book to date that effectively destroys the soy myth has just been published. I have been waiting for this book to be published for nearly two years and now you don’t have to wait a moment longer as Dr. Daniel’s, The Whole Soy Story will provide you with all the history and science of why soy is not what it has been cracked up to be.

Fortunately there are a number of superior alternatives to increase your calcium intake, that are far superior to soy or rice drinks: You can certainly use large amounts of dark green leafy vegetables, but protein types tend not to tolerate the large volumes that are required and it is a major challenge to obtain sufficient calcium from vegetable sources.

Raw vs. Pasteurized Milk

Another option is to choose raw milk instead of pasteurized milk. I am convinced that raw milk is the single best source of calcium on the planet. It is far better than any calcium supplement you can purchase as it is in nature’s original package that is designed for optimal absorption. Of course, human milk is best, but not practical. The next best would be sheep milk, then goat milk and finally cow’s milk.

Raw milk is truly one of the most profoundly healthy foods you can consume, and you’ll feel the difference once you start to drink it. The following are a few of the major reasons why more people are choosing to drink milk raw:

  • It has more nutrients: Raw milk has an outstanding source of nutrients including beneficial bacteria such as lactobacillus acidolphilus, vitamins and enzymes.

  • People feel the health benefits: Raw milk is not associated with any of the health problems associated with pasteurized milk such as rheumatoid arthritis, skin rashes, diarrhea and cramps. Even people who have been allergic to pasteurized milk for many years can typically tolerate and even thrive on raw milk.

  • It tastes better: As with any food, fresher is always better and this applies to milk as well. Fresh raw milk is creamier and better tasting than pasteurized milk that has a shelf life of several weeks.

Unfortunately, it is not commercially available for most of us, so you'll need to locate a local dairy farmer as a supplier. Most people are able to find a supplier by contacting a number of health food stores and finding a network of people that are interested in health. In my own circumstance it took me two years to find a source but now we have an Amish farmer that drives a few hundred miles every week to provide raw milk to the patients in our practice outside of Chicago.

Alternatively you can review the raw milk link for information on how to find raw milk in your area. The key to doing this legally is to make a special arrangement with the farmer in which you pay him a nominal amount to actually purchase a portion of the cow. This is called a cow share program and it is legal for a farmer to milk your cow for you. Ideally you would want to find a farmer that is milking grass fed cows.

If you're unable to find it where you live, for your convenience we offer a number of "real" organic raw dairy products in our Web store--I have made special arrangements with a dairy in the only state that raw milk products are legal, California, so you can easily obtain them. Never processed, never pasteurized and never homogenized, these raw dairy products are high in antioxidants, vitamins (including B-12), all 22 essential amino acids, natural enzymes, natural probiotics and good fatty acids. Also, none of the individually named cows are ever given antibiotics, hormones or GMOs--and only pasture, natural grains, and approved organic homeopathic methods are used to feed and care for the cows.

Related Articles:

Don't Drink Your Milk!

Pasteurized Milk and its Link to Autism

More Reasons Why You Don’t Want to Drink Pasteurized Milk

Soy: This "Miracle Health Food" Has Been Linked to Brain Damage and Breast Cancer

Infectious Bacteria in Milk Survives Pasteurization

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