Calcium Absorption: Soy Milk Versus Cow Milk

Calcium Absorption: Soy Milk Versus Cow Milk
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Soy milk should be shaken before pouring to get at the calcium that settles to the bottom.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

When you look at the nutrition facts label on soy milk, it says it has the same amount of calcium as cow milk. But is it absorbed as well?

“Calcium absorption in…osteopenic [meaning low bone mineral density] post-menopausal women: an acute comparative study of fortified soymilk to cows’ milk.” Pretty self-explanatory. What do you think they found? Which works better? Soy milk, calves’ milk, or the same? And the answer is: the same.

There is, however, a caveat. When it comes to soy, you’ve got to shake things up. A prior study found that some of the calcium in soy milk settles to the bottom. So, you really only get the amount it says on the label if you give it a good shake before you pour.

So, when the carton says shake it up, you shouldn’t do it just because the carton says so, or do it because I say so. You should do it because the science says so.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

When you look at the nutrition facts label on soy milk, it says it has the same amount of calcium as cow milk. But is it absorbed as well?

“Calcium absorption in…osteopenic [meaning low bone mineral density] post-menopausal women: an acute comparative study of fortified soymilk to cows’ milk.” Pretty self-explanatory. What do you think they found? Which works better? Soy milk, calves’ milk, or the same? And the answer is: the same.

There is, however, a caveat. When it comes to soy, you’ve got to shake things up. A prior study found that some of the calcium in soy milk settles to the bottom. So, you really only get the amount it says on the label if you give it a good shake before you pour.

So, when the carton says shake it up, you shouldn’t do it just because the carton says so, or do it because I say so. You should do it because the science says so.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Doctor's Note

For more on milk, check out these videos:

My calcium recommendation is to get least 600mg daily via calcium-­rich plant foods—preferably low-­oxalate dark green leafy vegetables, which includes all greens except spinach, chard, and beet greens (all very healthy foods, but not good calcium sources due to their oxalate content). Check out my video Plant vs. Cow Calcium for more.

And for more from a practical perspective, check out my associated blog posts: Soy milk: shake it up and How to Enhance Mineral Absorption.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

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