Thursday, 15 September 2011

Calcium Enriched

Have you ever felt sick after milk? Lactose intolerance is increasingly talked about, but little is heard about reactions to calcium fortified products. I'm not making this up. It's true. What do you do if you're lactose intolerant? You switch to more digestible milks, such as goat's milk or lactose-free. Problem solved right? What if you decide to give dairy a miss? The alternative options are plentiful – rice, oat, hemp, coconut, soya, even pea, but some of these will be fortified. A standard practice. Just don't be surprised if you feel nauseous. Most will assume it's a one-off, or if this symptom occurs frequently, blame the product. I can't tolerate soya milk people will say. What if the main ingredient is not the cause, but its fortification?

This is what happened to me. No person is immune to developing an allergy or intolerance, nor does it just have to be to common foodstuffs, e.g. dairy, wheat, gluten etc. All types of foods, additives and chemicals can act as a trigger. Calcium fortification is different however. I've found reactions can be much more widespread, and it's still not treated as suspect. The form of calcium used to supplement is an under-acknowledged culprit. It's not a bio-available form. In other words it's not recognised or easily absorbed by the body. Often described as chalk. There are natural forms which could be better assimilated, such as seaweed, but as its present form is not seen as a risk, there seems little point in making that substitution. Ironic when you consider the fact that supplementation as it currently stands is virtually useless.

Our uptake of calcium is variable, dependent on a host of factors from what we eat, to how we digest, and emotional stress. This being said, I question whether it's wise for all of us to supplement our diet? Particularly if it's of little benefit and causes nauseousness. Many of us, (veggies, vegans, and Joe Public) rely on enriched milk products to boost our calcium quota, but perhaps we don't need to. Far better to obtain this from natural sources, such as tahini, green leafy veg, tofu, grains, cooked dried beans, nuts and seeds. Supplement with a bio-available form if need be. Dairy-consuming, non-veggies may snigger, and think glad it's you not me, but you don't get off scott free. Some over-the-counter supplement brands and prescribed medications also contain this chalk. On the alternative white stuff and felt sick? Switch to the unfortified versions and see if the symptom persists.

Fortification is a market leader. Products with extra nutritional benefits considered superior. Too early to state otherwise. This fortified trend may not be a benefit in all cases. Calcium enriched supposedly a big plus, but could it be at the expense of our health?