Does Milk build strong bones?

Short answer: NO


Because milk depletes calcium from your bones.


Short answer: Yes

* Milk is high in calcium (300mg per glass), protein and fat.
* Milk, coming from an animal is animal protein.
* Animal protein is acid forming and as I’ve mentioned in previous newsletters, acid leaches calcium from the bones

Put another way from Vivian Goldsmidt, MA~Save Our Bones

“Here’s how it happens. Like all animal protein, milk acidifies the body pH which in turn triggers a biological correction. You see, calcium is an excellent acid neutralizer and the biggest storage of calcium in the body is – you guessed it… in the bones. So the very same calcium that our bones need to stay strong is utilized to neutralize the acidifying effect of milk. Once calcium is pulled out of the bones, it leaves the body via the urine, so that the surprising net result after this is an actual calcium deficit.”

Osteopenia/osteoporosis are more common in dairy-consuming regions.  An interesting point from Annmarie Colbin, Phd – The Whole Foods Guide to Strong Bones – “According to a paper on the Nurses’ Study in the American Journal of Public Health, when seventy-eight thousand (78,000!!!) nurses were followed over twelve years, those with a dietary calcium intake higher than 450mg per day had double the risk of hip fracture, and that was on a standard diet. Women who drank two or more glasses of milk per day had a 50 percent higher risk of breaking a hip than women who drank less than one glass  per week.”

What do we do living in a country whose history of a strong milk lobby have us all believing if we don’t drink milk we will have weak bones? Do we blindly follow the information we are fed and drink milk?

  • Remember when we were told that cigarettes were not addictive?
  • Remember the various milk campaigns; Got Milk, or the Milk Mustache Campaign – seeing famous and beautiful people wearing a milk mustache. We have to truthfully understand the driver behind these campaigns.

Beautiful Woman with her Milk Mustache

How about Fat Free or Low Fat Milk?

When the fat is removed completely we have skim milk or reduced fat milk – 1%, 2%. Remember those “fat free” days when we were told FAT is EVIL and we became sugar addicts? I do.  That’s when “Good N’ Plenty” was my staple and my favorite holiday was Halloween! We need the fat; good fat. So what about the fat in the buttermilk ?

“When the naturally occurring butterfat is removed from milk and other dairy products, these foods are proportionately too high in acid-forming protein. The natural butterfat, together with the calcium, buffers the acidity created by metabolism of the protein; it also helps the body absorb the protein better”.

Review: If you drink milk, take it in it’s whole organic form preferably RAW which is unpasteurized and not homogenized.

Annemarie Colbin, Ph.D on reduced fat milk.   “There is a reason why nature puts all these nutrients together, and we humans may be quite foolish to think our technology can create a healthier product by removing components of whole unprocessed foods.

Here’s a simple way to remember the basic concept:

Milk should go out of the woman, not in.

When it goes in, it goes the wrong way and the system jams creating numerous health problems; chronic vaginal discharge, acne, menstrual cramps, fibroids, chronic intestinal upset, snoring, benign breast conditions.”

Let’s take a look at nature. Have you ever seen a grown cow nurse from it’s mother? No, we see calves (baby cows) suckling from their mother’s to grow into strong cows.

Calf Suckling

As we see with babies; babies need mother’s milk to grow strong, to build their immune system. Recommended breast feeding is 1-2 years with a minimum of 1 year.  When babies are weaned from the breast, they no longer need milk.  They need real wholesome food, not sugary foods, juices or sodas which depletes calcium from one of the most important developmental stages of their lives -building their bones.

So many children suffer unnecessarily from ear infections and the common ingredient?  Cow’s Milk.  Once milk is removed from their diets, ear infections often clear up. As we walk into the cold and flu season, with the first sign of sniffles, immediately remove all milk intake as dairy creates mucus.

Vivian Goldsmidt, MA  Like any other animal derived protein-rich food, milk has a positive potential renal acid load (PRAL) which triggers a protective biological reaction to neutralize all the damaging acidic protein before it reaches the kidneys.

The body is designed for survival, so it sacrifices bone density to protect the kidneys and urinary tract because the latter are essential to survival. And the most readily available source of acid neutralizer is in the bones. So even though milk contains calcium, it ends up sapping your bones of that crucial mineral. But that’s not all because…

Today’s milk is a processed food.

Until the end of the 19th century in Europe and the beginning of the 20th century in the US, milk was consumed unpasteurized or raw. Later on, homogenization became the industry’s standard. These processes further alter milk’s chemistry and actually increase its detrimental acidifying effects.

Raw milk advocates claim that if cow’s milk is left “as is” it is a healthy and wholesome drink. It is true that raw milk is less acidifying than processed milk and that pasteurization and homogenization may cause a long list of digestive and other health problems. For further research please read this insightful article from The Westin A Price Foundation:

More from Vivian Goldsmidt, MA:

“Nowadays, milking cows are given antibiotics and most are also injected with a genetically engineered form of bovine growth hormone (rBGH). A man-made or synthetic hormone used to artificially increase milk production, rBGH also increases blood levels of the insulin-growth factor 1 (IGF-1) in those who drink it. And higher levels of IGF-1 are linked to several cancers.

Even though organic milk is from cows that are not given antibiotics or rBHG, if you truly care about your bone health and your overall health, you should…
Avoid drinking cow’s milk.

In traditional societies (other than fermented dairy- kefir and yogurt), dairy foods are not part of the native diet.  By the age of 4 most people in the world lose the activity of the lactase enzyme, which digest lactose and simply become lactose intolerant.  According to Annmarie Colbin, PhD.   An average of 70 percent of adults worldwide are lactose intolerant.  This figure varies widely across cultures.

Yet, many believers in milk don’t listen to their bodies way of communication (gas, bloating, skin outbreaks, rashes) and reach for the “Lactose Free” milk because we want to believe we all need milk.

Paul Pitchford, Vivian Goldsmiths, Annmarie Colbin,  – my teachers –  believe that drinking milk and eating lots of dairy products are not the answer for reversing osteoporosis.  We all agree that bone health is maintained by eating calcium and mineral rich foods; leafy greens, fermented foods, bone-building herbal teas, seaweeds/sea vegetables, seasonal vegetables, fish with bones (sardines, canned salmon), grains, bone stock; natures best.

Everything we eat becomes our bones, blood, organs, tissues, thought and our feelings.

Also keep in mind the biggest boned animals; elephants, horses, cows and giraffes build their bones from leafy greens and grasses.


Yogurt is a fermented dairy product chock-full of beneficial qualities made by adding bacterial cultures to milk which causes the transformation of the milk’s sugar, lactose, into lactic acid.    This process gives yogurt its refreshingly tart flavor and unique pudding-like texture.   Many people who can’t tolerate milk CAN tolerate bone building whole milk organic/ biodynamic yogurt.

Yogurt is a very good source of calcium, phosphorus, riboflavin-vitamin B2 and iodine and is also a good source of vitamin B12, pantothenic acid-vitamin B5, zinc, potassium, protein and molybdenum. These nutrients alone would make yogurt a health-supportive food. But some of the most interesting health information about yogurt comes from a different context-its inclusion of live bacteria.

The highest quality yogurt in your grocery store contains live bacteria that provides a host of health benefits.   Hawthorne Valley Farm’s old European-style is both biodynamic and organic, made with live cultures comes highly recommended and can be found in most health food stores and the Union Square Market in Manhattan.   This is a full-fat yogurt.

Back to Milk~
The best milk substitute

My favorite milk substitute is almond milk, not only because it is alkalizing (as almonds are), but also because it’s delicious and easy to make. Click here to view my favorite whole food chef, Sharla Cooper create almond milk.

Thanks for reading my blog.  Would love to hear your comments!

From my bones to yours!



Sweet Sharla

This months guest writer is  Whole Food Chef – Sharla Cooper sharing her osteoporosis prevention food – seaweed and it’s health benefits.

Building strong bones is an important foundation of creating good health and longevity.  Looking beyond the land and into the vast ocean we can find a wealth of nutrition and nutrients.

Seaweeds are the green garden of the oceans and have been used throughout the world for a source of health and longevity.  Sea vegetables have 10 to 20 times the amount of usable minerals than land vegetables, which makes them a invaluable source of nutrients.  Mineral rich foods nourish the blood which create healthy bones, nails, hair and teeth.

Food from the sea- Seaweed

It is known in the East, that hair represents the blood in the body and can greatly be nourished by the long tendrils of sea plants that live in the ocean.   In addition to its impressive mineral rich profile, sea plants are an excellent source of iron, calcium, iodine, protein, amino acids and vitamins.


A trusted brand - Eden

Seaweeds such as Wakame and Hijiki contain almost ten times the amount of calcium of milk.  Even in small amounts, sea vegetables can provide benefits to the body.  The best way to enjoy and harness the benefits of seaweed, is to cook them into food and implement  them into the diet on a regular basis.  In Chinese medicine, seaweeds have a cooling effect on the body, they cleanse the blood, softens hard lumps and cysts, reduces swelling and disperses phlegm.

The Kidneys, Liver and Stomach all benefit from the regular use of sea plants, by building and

Seaweed Salad

detoxifying and directing energy deeper into the organs.  It is a common tradition to fix seaweed soup for women after giving birth as it helps restore the nutrients lost during child birth, cleanses the body of accumulation and helps fortify and strengthen lactation.

Seaweeds are also a known remedy to weight accumulation in the body and can help in gently flushing out toxins by improving water metabolism.  No matter what your constitution, anyone can benefit from these gifts from the sea and cooking with them is simple and delicious.

You can start here with this simple and delicious recipe.

Black bean and Seaweed soup:

Black Bean Soup


  • 1 cup of dried black beans, soaked for 8 hours or overnight with a pinch of celtic sea salt
  • 1 piece of kombu seaweed
  • 6 cups of water
  • 1/2 tsp of fennel seeds
  • 4 slices ginger
  • 6 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup of diakon radish or carrot
  • 1 oz of hijiki seaweed, soaked in water for 5-7 minutes, drain
  • 1 oz of wakame seaweed, soaked for 5-7 minutes, drain
  • 1 Tbsp unpasteurized miso, diluted in 1/2 cup of water
  • fresh chopped green onions to top
  1. Place drained and rinsed black beans in a soup pot with 6 cups of water and kombu.  Cook for 1 hour.
  2. Put in ginger, fennel, carrot or daikon, and shiitakes.
  3. Cook for another 30-45 minutes.  Check the beans for softness.  When the beans are still firm soft, add in hijiki, wakame and a pinch of celtic sea salt.
  4. Cook until beans are soft and flavors harmonize.  Take off heat and add miso to individual portions of soup and top with chopped green onions.
  5. Enjoy!

From Jill Gusman book: Vegetables from the Sea – everyday cooking with sea greens (Great book for your food library).

Edible seaweed, also called sea vegetables, refers to marine growth or algae.  Seaweed grows in polar and tropical seas, usually near coastlines where it attaches to undersea rock formations.  Sea vegetables – seaweed that is harvested for eating- are taken only from plants attached to the ocean floor and rocks in deep water.  Most edible seaweed is harvested in cold ocean waters.  In the US, harvests take place off the coasts of Maine and Washington, although some of the most delicious wakame, kombu, and sea palm are gathered off the coast of Mendocino, California.

Most of us have been at the beach at low tide when uprooted seaweed drapes the coastline. These plants are never to be picked for eating because they are in a state of decay.  Their smell is not pleasing and their seaweed is often sticky and sandy.  Once uprooted seaweed is not edible.  It must not be eaten.

Seaweed tips:

When I cook my brown rice (after it’s been soaked for 8 hours) I cut-up break up pieces of Kombu (also referred to as Kelp) and cook it with my rice.

As a salt substitute, I use Dulse (found in Whole Foods and most health food stores) by Maine Coast Sea Vegetables

One of my favorite staples is easy-to-make Miso Soup

Organic Ingredients:

3 shitake mushrooms (dried are also okay as long as not from China)

2 carrots sliced

¼ cup Wakame

2 cups of baby spinach

½ block of extra firm organic tofu

6 – 8 cups of water

3 tablespoons of miso either white, barley, or red.  Try them all!

1 medium onion

1 tablespoon olive oil


  1. Dice onion and sauté with olive in a 3 quart pot for approx. 5 minutes.
  2. Reconstitute the Wakame in boiling water for 5-10 minute.
  3. Add sliced carrots (about ¼ inch round) and continue to sauté.
  4. If using dried shitake soak in 1 cup of hot water to reconstitute
  5. Add 5 cups of water and bring to a boil
  6. Slice shitakes and add to water
  7. Cut tofu into small cubes, add baby spinach and cook for 5 minutes
  8. Take Soup off the burner.    Using 1 cup of soup water in a separate bowl, dissolve miso paste and add to soup .  Start with 2 tablespoons of Miso, add more depending on your desired taste.

Miso Health benefits:

Anticarcinogen, effective in reducing the effects of radiation, smoking air pollution and other environmental toxins.  Miso is an invaluable digestive aid, and a concentrated protein source, containing a rich amino acid profile of 8 essential amino acids.

Was this helpful?

I am thrilled and so grateful to present Robin Rose Bennett with her special Bone Health article.

Herbs for the Health of your Bones

by Robin Rose Bennett, Founder Wisewoman Healing Ways

I am a woman, so of course I’m concerned about the health of my bones. Like everyone else I’ve been bombarded with warnings about osteoporosis being an inevitable outcome of getting older. Not only that, but since I was a small child I have suffered from bone loss in my mouth or what’s now called juvenile periodontitis.

At 16 I was told I wouldn’t have a tooth left in my mouth by the time I was 20. Fortunately that dire prediction didn’t prove true, and though I have lost some teeth much later, and must pay good attention and tend to myself consistently, my mouth is healthy, in fact healthier than it has been in my whole life.

It is said that within every challenge lies an opportunity or blessing. When I received that prediction, I began to look for answers to this serious health problem.  And this led me to discover the magic and power of herbal medicine, which has been serving me well for 30+ years and continues to be the soulful center of my approach to health-care for myself, and for those I serve as an herbalist. I say ‘soulful’ because the herbs themselves are generous healers and medicine beings. That is their purpose and they have always stayed true to it. Plants were helping people to heal long before anyone began turning them into little pills we could buy at the health food store.

Herbal medicine is truly the people’s medicine and can be found right in our kitchens. The methods I use and teach are focused on preparing the plants in ways that help us to receive their healing gifts (vitamins, minerals, chlorophyll, and other constituents) as fully as possible and to do this in a low-tech way that anyone can do well. Also, recognizing that most of us feel over-committed, overloaded and tired, I know we need simple, easy ways to take care of ourselves so that we will fit self-care into our lives.

The herbs I favor are both gentle and potent. I use commonly available herbs to awaken the vital force within the body to heal itself. These herbs are nourishing (meaning they build actual substance in the body, like whole foods) and tonifying (meaning that regular, rhythmic use of them will help an organ or system to function better).
In many ways, bone health is all about taking in and assimilating an abundance of minerals. Assimilation requires that the minerals are being taken in a form our bodies know how to make use of. Here are my top three most reliable approaches to herbal nourishment of our bones:

Herbal Infusions- water based herbal preparations using dried herbs
Bone broths– long steeping (24 hours) soup stocks made with a splash of vinegar and immune and bone nourishing mushrooms, carrots, onions, garlic, and mineral rich herbs such as parsley, seaweeds, rosemary, and sage.  See below for recipe
Herbal Vinegars– vinegar based herbal preparations using fresh herbs

Herbal infusions are simple to make and offer us an excellent way to get our bone nourishing minerals on a daily basis. Boiling water opens up the cell walls in the plants and draws the minerals and vitamins out of the plant into the liquid that we are drinking.
Directions for infusions are as follows:

Ball Jar

  • Add 1-1 1/2 cup of dried herbs to a quart jar (ball jars work well)
  • Pour a quart of boiling water over the herbs, filling the jar to the top capping it air-tight.
  • Let the herbs steep overnight, or between 8-12 hours.
  • Once it’s made, pour the liquid through a strainer into another jar.

This transforms an herbal beverage into a medicinal strength infusion.

  • Squeeze out the herbs to get every drop, and then put the infusion in the refrigerator or heat it up and put it into a stainless steel thermos to drink throughout your day.

You can drink infusions hot, cold, or room temperature.
Drink between 2 -4 cups a day for optimum bone health.
And experiment, sometimes an herbal taste you don’t care for hot will taste perfectly acceptable drunk at room temperature or cold.

Oatstraw Oatstraw – Avena sativa – Oats release even more minerals if they are boiled in some water for a few minutes before being poured into the jar to steep overnight. They are well known for their abundance of highly assimilable minerals such as magnesium, chromium, sodium, silicon, calcium, iron, phosphorus, and selenium. These build and strengthen our bones, teeth, nails, and hair. Oats make a sweet, mellow tasting brew that is infinitely more satisfying and safer than swallowing a bunch of mineral supplements. Oatstraw (the stalk on which the seed grows, often including the seed, too) also helps to lubricate the joints. Add one half gallon of infusion to a bathtub to soak out aches and pains (and calm your nerves and beautify your skin at the same time).

Oatstraw can be used as a daily bone-building tonic, alternating with or combined with other mineral rich infusions of herbs such as nettles (Urtica sp.), red clover (Trifolium pratense), red raspberry (Rubus idaeus), and alfalfa (Medicago sativa).

Many people who are gluten intolerant find their body accepts this infusion. A small percentage finds it doesn’t agree.  When symptoms arise, pay attention.



Nettles- Urtica dioica- is one of the most vitamin and mineral rich, nourishing tonics on earth. Its high calcium content makes nettles useful in preventing osteoporosis, as well as in building strong bones. It is a very green tasting infusion that some women love and others find takes getting used to. Nettles has an abundant supply of chlorophyll, calcium, chromium, magnesium, zinc, iron, manganese and vitamins A, C, and K. Nettles is the energizing complement to Oatstraw’s soothing nature.

Red Clover

Red Clover- Trifolium pratense is another valuable nourishing herb for our bones, as well as hormonal, reproductive, and immune systems. It, like nettles, is also deeply supportive of the lymphatic and nervous systems. Red clover offers a complete and digestible protein, containing all of the 22 known amino acids. Red clover is high in the vitamin B complex, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, manganese, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, and has many additional benefits including its delicious taste. The fresh flowers are delightful to eat in salads.

Red Rasberry

Red Rasberry

Red Raspberry– Rubus idaeus- Though most famous as a pregnancy tonic, this tannin rich herb is high in calcium and the associated minerals that will help in mending bones as well as strengthening them.

Alfalfa– Medicago sativa- Like red clover, this herb is in the pea family. Like all the others, it is rich in vitamins and minerals. Alfalfa is said to alkalinize our whole system.

Horsetail – Equisetum arvense – is a bone-building herb whose highly assimilable mineral content, especially silicic acid, is very useful for helping us to rebuild bone and all connective tissue. Horsetail can be drunk as a simple tea and it’s best to use only spring gathered horsetail as the silica content in the plant can be hard on the kidneys when the plant gets older and more brittle. Remember that we don’t want bones just to be hard. We want them to be strong. Strength requires resilient flexibility to withstand pressure and constant impact. Mere hardness will simply break on impact, and be likelier to lead to fractured/cracked teeth and vulnerable bones. Horsetail is a plant that is best used on and off, rather than as a constant daily source of minerals. If there is any pain in the kidney area it is a signal that too much horsetail is being consumed. Adjust the dosage and frequency of use and you will be fine. Horsetail is a kidney healing herb, too, and much of our bone health is actually generated in those amazing organs, our kidneys. One of their jobs is to balance calcium and phosphorus levels in the blood so that it’s not pulled out of our bones and the kidneys produce a hormone that ensures the vitamin D a person receives from sunlight and food becomes activated.

Herbal Vinegars
Finally, Red raspberry or blackberry leaves and stalks (as well as countless other herbs) can be gathered fresh, cut up small, and infused for 4-6 weeks or longer in a glass jar filled with apple cider vinegar and capped with a cork or plastic lid so it won’t rust. Apple cider vinegar excels at extracting the vital vitamins and minerals from these herbs.  These delicious vinegars can be used daily in cooking, in soups, salads, stir fries and especially to bring out and make bio-available the abundant minerals in well-cooked dark, leafy greens such as kale and collards. I rely on herbal vinegars and infusions every day. They strengthen my bones and my whole being.

As with any herbs, it is important to listen to what your body is telling you as to how your feels.

Robin Rose Bennett
© June 2010

Robin Rose Bennett

Robin Rose Bennett, founder of Wisewoman Healing Ways – Herbal Medicine and EarthSpirit Teachings, is a gifted herbalist, writer, and spiritual teacher. Since 1986 she has taught at schools, clinics, hospitals, progressive and holistic organizations, and most joyously, outside with the plants. She is a faculty member of the New York Open Center and the author of two meditation CD’s. She has been a regularly featured guest on radio, and has been a guest lecturer at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, St John’s Hospital, Montefiore Teaching Hospital, Beth Israel’s Nursing program, and Brown University Medical School. She has published a booklet, Wild Carrot: A Plant for Natural, Conscious, Contraception, and is the author of Healing Magic: A Green Witch Guidebook to Conscious Living (Gaia Rose Publishing).

Robin has a private consultation practice in New Jersey and an herbal teaching practice in Bronx, NY. I have happily referred my clients to Robin who’ve reported to have wonderfully supportive outcomes.  Please visit Robin’s website

Robin can be reached at 973-728-5878

Resources for dried herbs~  Best to go directly to Robin’s website and follow her easy-to-follow directions under “resources”.

Jeans Greens

119 Sulphur Spring Road

Norway, NY  13416


Frontier Natural Products
Box 299
Avoca, NY   14809

Flower Power
406 E. 9th Street (1st/Ave A)
New York, NY   10006

Bone Broths:  A perfect rainy day activity
Robin and I put our heads together, sharing our different recipes for nutritionally dense and delicious bone broths.  You can use a combination of bones from a chicken, turkey and/or beef, or one bone source.   I use a whole chicken and Robin uses the bones of previously prepared chicken/turkey/beef.

Apple cider vinegar
2 large carrots
6 Immune strengthening and bone nourishing shitake mushrooms
1 large onion
Garlic either a whole head or 1/2 a head of peeled garlic cloves
1/2 cup of dried kelp (found at whole foods)
Bunch of fresh rosemary and sage
Bunch of parsley

  • Place bones or whole chicken in large pot
  • Cover the chicken or bones with water and and add 1 tablespoon of vinegar.  Let sit  for an hour.  This starts the mineral leaching process.
  • Rough cut the carrots, onions, mushrooms (include the stems), rosemary and sage.  Add to the pot.
  • Add the garlic and dried kelp.
  • Bring to a boil.  Skim off any foam that has bubbled to the surface.
  • Reduce the temperature to low, cover and cook for 12-24 hours.  The longer the better.   If using a whole chicken, remove the meat after it has cooked for 30-45 minutes (check to see that the meat is not pink on the inside).  Remove the meat from the bones to eat later then return the bones to the water
  • During the last 10 minutes add the parsley and recover.

Strain your broth.

When I make my broth, I start early in the morning.  If it cooks for 8-10 hours or so, about 3-4 hours before the cooking day comes to an end, I remove the pot and let the broth cool.  I then put the entire pot in the refrigerator and start the cooking again first thing in the morning.
Once the broth is complete, strain out the ingredients and let it cool, return it to the refrigerator and then skim off the fat that rises to the top.
I have been found in my kitchen with my doggie Dusty having a bone celebration, chewing on the bones from my broth.  After cooking for 20-24 hours the bones are soft and delicious.  Please chew, chew, chew the bones well  ~ as with all your food.


What more spice in your LIFE?

The beauty of making your own spice combination adds to the success, and a pat-on-the-back “wow” to the meal.  Five-spice powder encompasses all five flavors – sweet, sour, bitter, pungent, and salty.
Time Required: 15 minutes

Here’s How:

  1. In a dry skillet, roast 2 teaspoons of Szechuan peppercorns by shaking the pan over low to medium heat until the aroma of the peppercorns is released (about three minutes).
  2. Grind the roasted peppercorns and 8 star anise in a blender or pepper mill.
  3. Strain the blended seasonings.
  4. Mix in 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves, 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, and 1 tablespoon ground fennel seeds.
  5. Grind the seasonings until very fine.
  6. Store in an airtight container.


  1. Use five-spice powder sparingly, as it can be quite pungent.
  2. If desired, you can substitute black peppercorns for the Szechuan peppercorn, and ground anise for the star anise (use 4 teaspoons of ground anise).

What You Need:

  • Spices
  • Skillet
  • Blender or a Spice Mill or Pestal and Mortar
  • Airtight Container


Calcium Rich Collard Greens

Sturdy collards are a good choice for this traditional Asian treatment.  Five-spice powder is a blend of cinnamon, cloves, fennel, star anise, and Szechwan pepper-corns.  This Chinese seasoning is available in the spice section of many supermarkets.

Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish

1/4 cup of rice wine or sherry
3 Tablespoons of organic soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar (maple syrup can replace sugar)
1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder
2 1/2 pounds organic collard greens, tough stems discarded, washed shaken dry ro remove excess water, and coarsely chopped
Rice vinegar

1.  Bring rice wine, soy sauce, sugar or maple syrup, five-spice powder, and 1/4 cup water to a boil in a large casserole or Dutch oven.  Add the damp greens.  Cover, reduce the heat, and simmer, stirring once or twice, until the greens are very tender, about 15 minutes.

2.  Remove the cover and simmer until the greens are no longer soupy, 3-4 minutes.  Adjust the seasonings, adding rice vinegar to taste.  Serve immediately

Recipe from Vegetables Every Day by Jack Bishop

Vitamin D3 is the current supplement “du jour”.  We are told by experts that we need vitamin D3 for our bones (D3 is the D vitamin recognized for bone health).

Let the sunshine in, let the sunshine in...the sunshine in!

We are also told that vitamin D deficiency is now recognized as an epidemic in the United States, according to Michael Holick – Boston University School of Medicine’s article “The Vitamin D Epidemic and its Health Consequences.”  The article continues “with the absence of sun exposure 1000 IU of cholecalciferal (a form of Vitamin D also called Vitamin D3) is required daily for both children and adults.  Vitamin D deficiency causes poor mineralization of the collagen matrix for your children’s bones leading to growth retardation and bone deformities knows as rickets.  In adults, vitamin D deficiency induces secondary hyperparathyroidism, which causes a loss of matrix and minerals, thus increasing the risk of osteoporosis.  Vitamin D deficiency causes muscle weakness, increasing the risk of falling and fractures.”

With my focus on bone health, I immediately responded to this epidemic and dutifully made the attempt to purchase my vitamin D3 supplement.  But which one to buy???  I bought a well-known brand and to my surprise when I looked further I noticed the vitamin D3 was carried in soy oil.  Soy oil, unless organic,  is often genetically modified.  Fermented soy such as soy sauce, miso, and tempeh, are considered the most healthy forms of soy and eating only modest amounts of organic tofu are a good enhancement to your diet.

I also noticed an ingredient in this particular well-known manufacturer of vitamin D3, magnesium stearate.  What?  Magnesium stearates are made by hydrogenating cottonseed or palm oil, are used throughout the supplements industry as lubricants and coat every particle of the nutrient.   Even though this is a small amount, it adds up if all of your supplements contain magnesium stearate.   I suggest taking a look at your vitamins to see which ones have this ingredient.

This led me to further research.  Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin which means your intestines absorb it only in the presence of dietary fat.  Vitamin D is made in your body after exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun.

There are two types of vitamins: fat soluble and water soluble.

When you eat foods that contain fat-soluble vitamins, the vitamins are stored in the fat tissues in your body and in your liver. They wait around in your body fat until your body needs them.

Fat-soluble vitamins are happy to stay stored in your body for awhile — some stay for a few days, some for up to 6 months! Then, when it’s time for them to be used, special carriers in your body take them to where they’re needed. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are all fat-soluble vitamins.

Water-soluble vitamins are different. When you eat foods that have water-soluble vitamins, the vitamins don’t get stored as much in your body. Instead, they travel through your bloodstream. Whatever your body doesn’t use comes out when you urinate (pee).**

Oh boys, did you get your vitamin D today?

Please note in Michael Holick’s article  vitamin D3 supplements  are necessary “with the absence of sun exposure.”   Here’s what I know.  Kids are spending much too much time inside developing their expertise in the world of computer games instead of playing in the sun.  Adults, when spending time in the sun,  lather up with sun screen to prevent skin cancer.  Therefore it is safe for most people to spend 15-20 minutes a day several days a week in the sun without sunscreen to get the proper amount of  vitamin D your body needs.

According to Amy Joy Lanou, PhD in her book that I often quote Building Bone Vitality “Vitamin D boosts the body’s ability to absorb calcium and is unique among the nutrients and is the only vitamin we make ourselves.  Although it is possible to obtain small amounts of vitamin D from food most is produced by the skin when exposed to sunlight.”

In addition  Vivian Goldsmidt’s, MA also  suggests that spending time in the sun, without sunscreen,  also helps to improve your mood as well as sunlight triggers an increase in the feel-good brain chemical Serotonin”  It’s important to remember that the fairer your skin.

Relaxing in the sun

the less direct exposure is needed to activate vitamin D synthesis.  For people with fair skin, just a short burst of sunshine on their skin will be enough.  And if you’re afraid of going out in the sun without sunscreen lotion, just remember that the benefits of the moderate sun exposure outweighs the risk.   Sun in the morning hours and the afternoon hours are best to avoid skin burn.

The high melanin content in darker skin reduces the skin’s ability to produce vitamin D from sunlight.  According to Dr. Furhman:  “It is very important for African Americans and other population with dark-pigmented skin to consume recommended amounts of vitamin D”.

And what about Vitamin D in food?

~ Raw milk for some of my readers who are fortunate enough to purchase Raw Milk.  Pasteurized/homogenized milk is fortified with Vitamin D which is synthetic.  Raw milk has the D naturally in the milk in the form of butterfat. (resource MayoClinic)
~ *Canned salmon – 3oz of canned sockeye salmon (wild salmon) contains 675 IU.  Your typical farmed salmon fillet will have about half or less due to the lack of algae in the fish’s diet.  Wild sockeye used in canned salmon is amoung the more sustainable seafood choices available.
~ *Cod liver oil –  1 tsp contains 450 IU.  Cod Liver Oil is high in vitamin A as well.  Many health care providers are concerned with high levels of vitamin A.  If you’re taking other supplements with Vitamin A, keep track of your total intake.
~ *Mackerel – 3oz of cooked mackerel contains 390 IU, and Spanish Mackerel is among the more sustainable seafood options currently available.
~ *Herring – 3oz of cooked Atlantic herring contains 180 IU, and is another good choice from a sustainability perspective.
~ *Sardines – 3oz of canned sardines contain 165 IU, and are an excellent choice from a sustainability perspective, small fish are much less likely to have mercury and other toxins.
~ *Dried shiitake mushrooms. You can, of course, reconstitute them and still get the vitamin D. It’s the drying process that activates the D, so fresh shiitakes will NOT contain the same levels. The author’s calculations suggest that 1 cup of re-hydrated shiitakes (.5oz or 3/4 dry) contains about 130 IU of Vitamin D.  There has been controversy about dried shiitakes from China, so organically grown are suggested.
~ Organic egg yolks. For my New York City readers who are fortunate to shop at the Union Square Green Market, my friend Dan from Grazin Angus Acres raises chickens.  I buy and love their eggs.  In fact, I appreciate everyone from Grazin Angus Acres: Dan, Susan and Chip.  Here’s Dan response to my question of “What do you feed your chickens?”:

“The certified organic grain supplements our chickens get (they are omnivores) is comprised of corn and soybeans.  These supplements tend to comprise approximately 15 – 20% of their daily intake.  Our chickens are ALWAYS ON PASTURE – even in the dead of winter – and so they forage for grass and bugs for most of the day.   It’s surprising how many bugs they find even in the winter”.

In closing, I’m going with the k.i.s.s. approach (keep it simple stupid) depending on nature in all it’s finest; the sun for my vitamin D and whole organic foods  for my other vitamins and minerals.

Let the sunshine, let the sunshine in…the sunshine in.…From the musical Hair.

*Above information provided by  **

From my bones to yours!


Feeling the groove!

8-Daily Bone Health Tips

1) Lemon Juice~ Begin each day with the juice of one whole lemon in 8 ounces of warm water (alkalizing).

2) Veggies~ Drink or slowly eat 7+ servings of a variety of veggies (especially calcium rich kale and collards) see green drink below.

3) Sugar~ Reduce your refined, white sugar intake (acid); fresh fruit and veggies supply all the sugar you need. Sugar leaches calcium. When our diets are high in sugar and/or simple carbohydrates our body leaches calcium from our bones and teeth.

4) Bread~ Pass on the bread basket (acid forming) my personal challenge! Bread is a simple carbohydrate, quickly turns to sugar and leaches calcium.

5) Animal Protein~ When eating grass-fed animal protein use it as a condiment (smaller portion) and veggies as the main portion. Animal protein is acidic. Acid leaches calcium. Low animal protein diets create a positive calcium balance, meaning bones are not losing calcium; and high animal protein diets create a negative calcium balance, meaning osteoporosis is developing. Mark J. Occhipinti, M.S. , Ph.D, NDc. The loss of bone mineral probably results from a combination of genetics and dietary and lifestyle factors, particularly the intake of animal protein, salt, and possibly caffeine, along with tobacco use, physical inactivity, and lack of sun exposure. source

6) Digestion Prep~ Slow down…(ahh, that felt good!) and take 3 deep healing breathes into your belly, bringing the blood to your digestive center, before you begin to eat allowing the body to take in the nourishment. When we rush through our meal or multi-task during our meal, we bypass the bodies digestion of our food putting us in a fight-or-flight response (stress response). The blood rushes to our limbs getting ready to RUN and the cortisol and insulin production is elevated causing the body to hold onto our food as weight. Quoting Marc David, Founder and Director of The Institute for the Psychology of Eating and the author of The Slow Down Diet: Eating for Pleasure, Energy, and Weight Loss: “Sympathetic nervous system turns on stress – para-sympathetic system turns on relaxation to help with digestion and weight loss”.

7) Chewing~ chew, chew your food. Use the tools you were given at birth; your teeth. Carbohydrates need to be broken down in the mouth. Try building up to chewing 10 times before swallowing. Awe come on..just try it. Notice the difference in taste!

8) Balancing/weight bearing exercise~ Right now, stand up, raise your left leg 10 inches off the ground, bringing your weight to your right leg. Balance for 1-2 minutes. Change legs. For those challenged by this exercise, stand next to a wall. More advanced use 3-5 lb weights; do 10 arm curls, 10 arm extensions and then press the weights overhead 10 times as you are balancing. Change legs.

Is this helpful? Next month I will be discussing milk and Vitamin D. Any thoughts or topics you’d like me to cover? Please email Irma