Most of us grew up hearing that calcium makes our bones and teeth strong, so it was important to drink our milk. The “Got Milk?” advertising campaign continued the push to drink milk, but chiefly focusing on its value as a beverage. Now with milk alternatives, largely marketed as a response to veganism, and a decline in milk sales, a good question is are you getting enough calcium in your daily diet?
What’s in My “Milk”?
Milk comes with its own sugar, in the form of lactose. Plant based “milks” try to mimic the taste and feel of milk in part with sugar and other additives. Yet, limiting sugar consumption is one of the most important ways to protect your teeth from decay and cavities. So if you’re buying a milk alternative, does it have added sugar? Does it contain any calcium, especially compared to the amount of calcium in animal milks? Milk feeds cavity-causing bacteria with sugar just as well as other sugar sources, but it provides calcium to help limit or reverse the damage done by bacteria. Does your milk alternative do the same? Only the informational label can tell you. Milk provides a good source of calcium, potassium and protein for healthy bones, teeth and muscles. If your milk alternative contains sugar, it had better do the same!
But what if you are lactose intolerant or vegan? Are you in danger of losing your teeth? Of course not! Plenty of calcium and other nutrients are found in other food sources.
Calcium From Sources Other Than Milk
Your teeth will be fine if you eat a diet full of fruits and vegetables and unprocessed foods. An adult’s body needs about one thousand milligrams a day of calcium, as we constantly use and resupply our built-in calcium stores (chiefly in the bones).
The following foods are a great source of calcium and other vital nutrients:
- kale and other dark leafy greens,
- nuts and seeds such as almonds, walnuts, Brazil nuts, and sesame seeds,
- dried fruits like figs and dates,
- soy products like tofu and edamame.
A diet full of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains, combined with vigorous and regular exercise, and a reasonable amount of vitamin D (simply spend a minimum of twenty minutes in the sun each day) is more than enough to help your body have strong teeth and bones. Visit the dental professionals at the Yuba City Dentistry Group for regular exams and cleanings and your teeth (and jawbones) will be around a good long time!