Got Mylk – New Study Shows Lack of Calcium & Other Nutrients in Plant Milks

A pioneering new study " Got Mylk? The Emerging Role of Australian Plant-Based Milk Alternatives as a Cow’s Milk Substitute"  analysed dairy alternatives sold at all major Australian grocery retailers from Nov. 2019 to January 2020. The study , which is published in the journal Nutrients has recommended that consumers need to think carefully when choosing a plant alternative to cow's milk.

The key points are:

  • Almost 60% of products were fortified, but only 1/3 contained similar calcium content to cow’s milk.
  • Products were also lacking in vitamin A, B12, protein, zinc and iodine, when compared with cow's milk. 
  • Key demographics are adolescents from 12 - 18 & females over 50 years old. With these groups shown to have "special physiological demands" , including bone health, which are met with a dairy-rich diet.

The study also mentioned that:

"Indiscriminate substitutions might reduce intakes of protein and micronutrients, particularly vitamin A, B2,B12, iodine and zinc, and lead to reductions of more than 50% of the estimated average requirements for protein, zinc and calcium".

In order to fulfil calcium RDI requirements in plant milks, manufacturers have the option of limestone-derived ingredients, commonly labelled as calcium carbonate or tri-calcium phosphate,  which owing to their dense, rock origin are difficult for the body to adequately digest and utilise. Aquamin is a plant-based alternative that provides calcium, magnesium and a range of other trace elements that are in a form that is easier for the body to digest and use in support of bone health. This seaweed material also has a proven higher bioavailability when compared with limestone.

When making an informed decision on a dairy alternative, look on the ingredients list on an increasing number of products for "plant-derived calcium" "seaweed calcium" 0r "Aquamin".

Andrew Brennan - July 2020

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Vitafoods 2018