The short answer to the question of whether you need to drink milk to get your required calcium intake is no. Even though for most adults in the UK, dairy foods and drinks are the biggest contributors to calcium intake, there is a suggested downward trend in the general consumption of dairy in the UK and US, possibly down to changing perceptions on milk and dairy, and increased popularity in dairy alternatives.
Contrary to belief, calcium absorption is equally effective from non-dairy sources in healthy individuals. Moreover, most milk alternatives, like almond, soya or oat milk, are fortified with calcium to equivalent, or sometimes superior levels, seen in dairy milk. There are also many other, non-dairy contributors to calcium intake including fortified cereals, white bread, green leafy vegetables, and legumes, as well as plant-based foods such as tofu.
However, it is worth exploring what influences calcium absorption. Firstly, absorption efficacy is a product of age and requirement, with the highest efficiency seen in children and declining efficiency with age. Low calcium intake also increases calcium absorption efficacy by way of compensation.
Nevertheless, the dominant influence on calcium is Vitamin D, which regulates both calcium absorption in the gut and calcium loss from the body. Here lies a more relevant issue, given that currently, around 20% of children and adults are clinically deficient in vitamin D.
Despite some ability to synthesis vitamin D from sunlight (when the sun is high enough to cast a shadow shorter than yourself), and some dietary sources of vitamin D, the recommendation in the UK is for all those over the age of five to supplement with 10mg of Vitamin D per day.
Moreover, given that significant dietary sources of vitamin D include oily fish such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel, as well as red meat, liver, and egg yolks, those following plant-based diets, unless consuming foods fortified with Vitamin D, may be even more strongly advised to consider supplementing Vitamin D.
If you’re worried about your nutrient intake then Form’s vegan multivitamin, or Multi as we like to call it, is here to help. Multi covers your daily vitamin and mineral requirements and more, with vegan DHA and choline for brain health, and vitamin D3 from Vita-algae D® for immunity, Multi is more than a multivitamin; it’s your daily nutrient peace of mind.