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Calcium-Rich Plant Foods Better for Bones than Dairy

Updated on May 5, 2020

One of the most common health concerns that I receive questions on is how to prevent osteoporosis. I routinely review bone scan test results and food diaries of people who diligently follow conventional recommendations on calcium intake and are discouraged by worsening test results.

In my experience, the most common mistake that people make is eating too much dairy. Many health practitioners routinely advise their patients to get anywhere between 1200 to 1500 milligrams of calcium every day, and many people turn to milk, yogurt, cheese, ice cream, and other dairy products to meet this requirement.

The reality is that it's impossible to say how much calcium you need each day for strong and healthy bones. The health of your bones depends on a number of factors, and how much calcium you get through your diet is no more or less important than all of the other dietary and lifestyle factors that have impact on your skeletal health. If you have trouble believing this, consider that countries that rank higher-than-average in dairy consumption such as the United States, England, and Finland also have higher-than-average osteoporosis-related fracture rates.

The Nurses's Health Study, conducted by Dr. Walter Willet and his team at Harvard University, looked at the milk-drinking habits of 72,000 women, and found that regularly drinking milk did not translate to a lower risk of experiencing a hip fracture. In fact, the Nurses's Health Study found that women who drank milk two times a day were just as likely to experience a fracture as women who drank milk once a week.

A 2003 Swedish study that looked at more than 60,000 women found no association between dietary calcium intake and risk of fracture.

Finally, The Health Professionals Follow-Up Study looked at 43,000 men, and found no association between dietary calcium intake and bone fractures.

A number of respected physicians like Dr. Willett believe that when all of the other factors that influence bone health are being addressed, the body needs anywhere between 500 and 700 milligrams of calcium each day, about half of conventional guidelines.

My research and clinical experiences have led me to believe that it's best to rely mainly on plant sources of calcium to build and maintain strong bones. In traditional Korean culture, calcium is obtained mainly from green vegetable, including seaweed, mineral-rich broths made by boiling vegetables and sometimes bones, and sesame seeds and leaves.

Sesame seeds are especially good for building and maintaining healthy bones because they are naturally rich in calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, which are three of the most important micronutrients needed for optimal bone health.

If you're not sure how to get sesame seeds into your diet, I encourage you to try the following recipe for tahini dressing. Tahini is a creamy paste that is made by grinding fresh sesame seeds. When you blend tahini with a little water, lemon or lime juice, sea salt, and garlic, the result is a creamy dressing that goes beautifully with salads, steamed vegetables, rice dishes, potatoes, falafels, and any other foods that you enjoy with a rich and creamy dressing.

Tahini Dressing Recipe


2 heaping tablespoons of tahini
1/2 clove of garlic
Juice of 1/4 of a lemon
Sea salt, to taste


Blend all ingredients, adding water slowly until desired consistency is reached.

If you have family and friends who are concerned about osteoporosis and are eating large quantities of conventional dairy, please consider passing this article on. Thank you.


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A delicious variation I just discovered of this dressing is to stir in chipotle pepper or a sauce seasoned by it. You can buy it dry or canned. Mine didn't arrive at perfection until I had added plenty of lime juice. Enjoy!

Tahini tips from the Mediteranean:
- try thick tahini (less water) with whole pitta bread
- thin or thick - water should always be cold. ice cold also a few drops of virgin olive oil = way creamier
- add finly chopped fresh parsley
- also wonderful without the garlic (Lebanese style)
- works also with the smallest amount of water as a spread - as sesame butter

Orly, Tel Aviv

So this sounds like one can make the "thick" tahini for adding to homemade hummus! thanks! can't always find it when I need it but I'm going to try to make my own now!

Another yummy addition to tahini dressing is homemade creamy good...

I also want to point out that the dairy consumption you refer to didn't show that dairy is bad for people. Just that it wasn't making a difference. The fact is that dairy is not bad for people...but pasteurised, factory farmed dairy is very bad for people.

This is an incredibly important distinction. Some varieties of humans have been eating dairy for 10,000 years and it is very very important to our health.

It cannot be said with honesty or as factual information that "real" dairy is not excellent human food.

I have been consuming it for the last few years and my gums have grown back, I have no more cavity development and I haven't gotten all the colds and flus that circulate in the winter.

It just goes to show that we are all so very different..and we all have different needs personal to us!

And equally as sad, millions of doctors around the world continue to encourage their patients to drink milk to keep their bones strong, even in the face of chronic health challenges that stand a good chance of disappearing with a predominately plant-based diet.

Tahini is made of sesame seeds. One more recipe you can add to your diary is, if you mix baked sesame seeds with melted jaggery and store it, making small round balls and consume 2 to 3 everyday. It will help to boost blood content in your body as well increase calcium in your body for strong teeth's and bones.

<a href=""> Foods rich in calcium </a>

When I turned 50 my Doc told me to take a calcium supplement. When I took it my joints in my fingers started to ache and i got sharp pains and little painful bumps in my finger joints. I stopped taking it and stopped eating gluten and now my finger joints rarely ache. Arthritis is rarely a problem form me. Your article above has helped me to know that my food intake is sufficient for my calcium needs, along with my weight-bearing exercise.