Nutrition with food allergies and sensitivities – Calcium

See previous… Nutrition with food allergies and sensitivities

(Update: please also see my further thoughts on this issue here.)

Calcium intake in our diet is a major concern of ours since most of the dietary guidelines push a form of dairy as the primary source of calcium. However, the dietary guidelines do not provide a sufficient variety of foods for those of us with food allergies. Witness Appendix 11 of the recently updated USDA dietary guidelines, published late last year, on the Food Sources of Calcium. I’ve highlighted in pink the foods that we cannot consume.

Appendix 11. Food Sources of Calcium - 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines - health.gov cropped highlighted
(Click on the picture to enlarge)

That leaves us with the following 5 items from the list, with my comments following each item:

  • Fortified ready-to-eat cereals – many of which we cannot eat due to our wheat, peanut and treenut, and dairy allergies
  • Orange juice, calcium fortified – we would have to purchase this, as whole oranges are not at the top of this list
  • Sardines, canned in oil, drained – okay; though some are packed in soy oil, and so we tend to stay away from these products
  • Mustard spinach (tendergreen), raw – I don’t see this in our grocery stores
  • Rice drink – this is suitable; however, many rice drink producers also manufacture almond and/or soy drinks on the same production line, and so we tend to stay away from these products

There are some good resources out there that list calcium-rich foods to incorporate into your diet:

National Institute of Health – Calcium in Diet
National Osteoporosis Foundation – A Guide to Calcium-Rich Food
Dietitians of Canada –Food Sources of Calcium

Also, the USDA provides a great food-nutrient database from which you can search based on nutrient, categories of food, and even through some popular processed foods (Click on Nutrients List in the header).

Here’s a search based on Fruits, legumes and vegetables. (A lot of it is soy-based, which we can’t have, but we can’t remove soy from the search results.)

USDA diet advice through the years

Illustrating Diet Advice is Hard. Here’s how the USDA Has Tried To Do It.

Maria Godoy for NPR’s The Salt, on the 1992 Food Pyramid:

Carbs were the base of this pyramid, sending the message to eat all you want. And Americans did, gobbling up refined grains and processed snacks like SnackWell cookies — that staple of the low-fat craze — in their quest to avoid the dreaded dietary fat.

We know now that “carbohydrates worsen glucose and insulin — they have negative effects on blood cholesterol levels,” as Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, told us back in 2014. In other words, he told us, replacing saturated fats with refined carbs “has not been useful advice.”

Note that the recommendation of milk and dairy (and separately, butter!) is included in the USDA’s 1943 “The Basic 7” food guide, and in every food guide since. With allergies to milk and dairy, what’s the best way to replace those recommended nutrients? Is fortified soy milk (or other ‘milks’) adequate?