46—Do we really need 'Dairy' to get...

Calcium in our diets?

Calcium! Or Calci-umm?

Just over a year ago, I brought you my first article about calcium: Our most abundant mineral. In that article, I explained that despite receiving a lot of bad press,  calcium was still one of my ‘go to’ supplements for a lot of my clients. I said (and still maintain), that when prescribed correctly, calcium can provide a very simple solution to many of your health concerns.

In this ‘part-two’ on calcium, I want to discuss how important dairy is as a source of calcium in your diet. Put simply — it’s not important at all!

We’ve been lead to believe by the Dairy Industry (via their advertising), that ‘cow juice’ is the be-all-and-end-all of dietary calcium. In actuality, there are numerous different sources — many of which are better options than dairy!

Better — in the sense that many have higher levels of this mineral (gram for gram).

Better — in the sense that the majority of people aren’t intolerant to them1.

Better — in the sense that we don’t have to exploit another species.

And, better in the sense that they don’t cause devastation to our planet!

NZ is moving away from traditional farming practice. However, funnily enough, this is not reflected in their current advertising. You may be shocked to discover what it actually takes to ‘make’ milk now-a-days.

In another follow-on article, I’ll let you know about the surprising health conditions that I use calcium for.  I’ll  share how to make ‘Dynamite — calcium powder’ with you. And, we’ll also look at why NZ is so fixated on calcium and ‘dairy’ for bone and teeth health. In fact, they might not be good for these things at all2.

(Hopefully part-three will come out much quicker than this part-two!)

We're being "White-washed" with milk

I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid, I thought the only way I would grow up (big, strong & healthy, at least) was if I drank milk! To this end, I would chug back up to a litre or more of bovine secretion most days.

I also grew up thinking that if your parents loved you, then they would keep popping the milk tokens out at night for the Milk Fairies in the morning.

The transfer of ‘mothers milk’ went seamlessly. Betsy and Daisy had unwittingly become my surrogate mums — providing me with the sustenance that would ensure I made my way in the world.

Note: This was all despite my mother’s concerns. When I was an infant, my initial reaction to dairy was none-too positive. My little body would power chuck this substance rather than stomach it. Mum therefore thought that dairy probably wasn’t the best thing for me – even though, over time, I now “appeared” to be tolerating it.

This was one of my favourite programs as a child.
“It is I, Count Homogenized!”


And, during commercial breaks, I was exposed to:

The Anchor Family
(a soap-style advertising campaign)

This fictional family taught us that even if things got tough for them — that comfort could be derived from consuming dairy products.

Note: Keep calm and continue to support the Dairy Industry.

Anchor are really grasping at straws!

Recent Anchor advertisement — ‘See-through cows’

In this advertisement, they hypothesise — “If milk was meant to see the light, wouldn’t cows be see-through?”

How about this then — “If milk was meant to be kept cold, wouldn’t cows be fridges?”

Or what about — “If milk were meant to be poured, wouldn’t cows have ‘jugs’?”

It’s just udderly ridiculous.

What the hell are you doing?

I like this from David Shrigley (my favourite artist):


David Shrigley
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Cutting out the middle cow

Do you avoid ‘dairy’ because you can’t (or won’t) tolerate it?

That’s fine by me. However, please don’t worry that you’re not going to get your calcium requirements. How do you think cows get calcium into their milk in the first place? From their diet! (Or at least they’re supposed to — please see the box on ‘Fonterror’)

I’m not suggesting you eat the same diet, because you literally couldn’t ‘stomach’ it (being three stomachs shy of a quartet). But what I am suggesting is that you consider this:

Calcium doesn’t just come in ‘white things’ (dairy products and pills). Calcium is contained in many different foods of a variety of different colours.


  1. Seafood

    Bony fish (sardines, and salmon), shell-fish, and seaweed (Kelp and dulse)

    Note:  Kelp is the highest source of calcium available when compared on a 100g basis with other foods. It has 1,093mg per 100g. Obviously you won’t eat that much, but even if you only eat a small amount it quickly adds up!

  2. Dark green leafy veggies

    Kale, collard leaves, turnip greens, parsley, dandelion greens, watercress, and broccoli.

  3. Nuts and Seeds

    Almonds and brazils (the nuts with the highest quantity). Sunflower and sesame seeds (including tahini)

  4. Dried fruit

    Apricots, dates, figs, prunes, and raisins

  5. Eggs!

    Egg yolk and egg shells.

    Note: More on ‘Dynamite’ (calcium powder) in my next article: Surprising uses for calcium 

  6. Soy products

    Tofu, miso, cooked soybeans, and soybean sprouts

  7. Miscellaneous

    Bone broth, buckwheat (raw), carob, molasses, and brewers yeast

If I were you, I would be more concerned about drinking things that:

1— affected your calcium absorption (Green smoothies and Fizzy drinks)
2— affected your calcium excretion (caffeine and alcohol)

than I would be about consuming milk for its calcium content.

Note: There is very little need for ‘calcium fortified’ products on the market considering our abundance of natural options!

A number of different sources of dietary calcium are displayed on a box

Homemade Chocolate Mylk is higher in calcium than standard milk.

Gram for gram, there is approximately 3x more calcium in carob (and cacao) than there is in whole dairy milk!

Therefore if you want to give your kids extra calcium, why not mix a heaped Tbsp of carob into their Almond Mylk for added effect?

Who wants a glass of dairy milk when they can have a Carob Smoothie?

Note: ‘Mylk’ is how the kool kids spell ‘milk’ when it’s a non-dairy variety.

Fonterra or Fonterror?

Fonterra are palming us all off! Fonterra’s farming style is industrial. Around 95 per cent of all New Zealand dairy farm owners are shareholders within Fonterra. They require our farmers to use supplementary feeds e.g Palm Kernel Expeller (PKE)3,4. PKE is a waste product from palm oil industry.

Note: Some NZ farmers refuse to use PKE because of the concerns surrounding it.

Fonterra buys around 1/4 — 1/3 of the world’s palm kernel!

“Over time, New Zealand’s dairy sector has shifted from traditional pasture farming to a more intensive, corporate model. This is having a huge impact on the environment, rapidly increasing greenhouse gas emissions, eroding the clean and green brand on which New Zealand agriculture is built, and lowering economic returns to farmers”.

The milk ad ‘they’ don’t want you to see:

Fonterra’s brands:
Anchor, CalciYum, De Winkel, Fresh & Fruity, Kapiti, Mainland, Perfect Italiano,  Primo, Symbio Probalance, and Tip Top.

Lisa says:

I don't care what anyone says... Cow's milk is for calves.

I don’t care if it’s homogenized, pasteurized, or raw (non-homogenised and unpasteurized). I don’t care if it’s organic or non-organic. It’s not yours! It’s not meant for you. If you don’t like this fact, then I suggest you take it up with Mother Nature!

I would not expect a human to thrive on any kind of cow’s milk, in much the same way I would not expect a calf to thrive on human’s milk.

Cow's milk is a poor substitute for breast-milk

I don’t deny the use of dairy milk for babies whose mothers are having difficulties with breast-feeding — for them it is a matter of survival.

Note: The milk in infant formula is hydrolyzed (or broken down). This makes it easier to digest (although it can still cause allergies and/or intolerance). Ensure you wean your child onto food and non-dairy mylk as soon as possible (by the time they are around one year old).

You don't need to consume dairy products to get calcium

Dairy products are simply one source of calcium among many others. And unfortunately, the therapeutic use of this calf food is limited, as most people are intolerant to it.

Unless someone is severely intolerant or opposed ethically to dairy products, I don’t advise their complete avoidance. I simply encourage them to be aware of what they are actually consuming, and recommend that they eat this food-group in moderation (if they must).

Note: I am yet to see a person flourish from the inclusion of dairy in their diet. Most do better without dairy than they do with it!

However, I do actively discourage people from drinking dairy milk (of any kind) as there are so many perfectly good dairy milk alternatives on the market (rice, oat, almond, hazelnut, and coconut).

Note: Consider buying dairy products from boutique brands such as Mahoe Farmhouse, The Cheese Barn, BioFarm, Natural Lea, Clear Water, Fresh Valley, Retro Organic, Green Valley, and Lewis Road Creamery. And, if you must have dairy milk, then I advise you drink A2 (or Jersey Cow) milk. It’s usually better tolerated by humans. 

Please don't let advertising distract you from reality

The advertisements Fonterra flash before us are fanciful — designed to distract us from what’s really involved in bringing us our dairy products.

Make no mistake, the dairy industry is not a kind one — not to the environment and certainly not to Daisy and Betsy.  Cows are not revered in this country — they are a commodity. They are ‘milked’ for all they are worth.

They are ‘in calf’ for 270 days of the year.

And, they are milked for 305 days of the year.

Note: Yes — Cows are milked while they are pregnant! Not only is this incredibly taxing on the cow, but her pregnancy hormones go directly into the our food supply. 

When cows are almost due to give birth, they are given approximately 6—8 weeks off.  During this time, their udder tissue is given a chance to regenerate. When she gives birth her calf is literally torn away from her as soon as it ‘hits the ground’. Some of these calves will either enter the milking circuit, or be used for breeding . Others (Bobby calves) are considered a waste product of this whole process — and will be sent off to slaughter5,6.

Note: A domestic cow might live for 20 years. However, a dairy cow will be ‘turned into beef’ after four years in service, as she is no longer an economic asset. 

Look who is paying for our greed. This year there were more dairy stock than normal because more were reared two years ago — when payouts were high.

Record cattle cull after low payouts

The reality is — it sucks to be a dairy cow.

Yes — we need calcium. No — we don't need dairy. Dairy just tastes good, it's comforting, it's filling, and it's money making.

Three Friesian calves are being contained in a grassy holding pen

Make an appointment with Lisa

Lisa Fitzgibbon is a degree qualified (2006), experienced and registered Naturopath & Medical Herbalist. She runs her own private practice – OOMPH in Grey Lynn, Auckland, New Zealand.

Lisa has been involved in the Natural Health industry for 16 years. She draws on her professional training and experience, as well as her own personal experience to bring you realistic, holistic health advice.

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