Because of spam, I personally moderate all comments left on my blog. However, because of health issues, I will not be able to do so in the future.

If you have a personal question about LI or any related topic you can send me an email at I will try to respond.

Otherwise, this blog is now a legacy site, meaning that I am not updating it any longer. The basic information about LI is still sound. However, product information and weblinks may be out of date.

In addition, my old website, Planet Lactose, has been taken down because of the age of the information. Unfortunately, that means links to the site on this blog will no longer work.

For quick offline reference, you can purchase Planet Lactose: The Best of the Blog as an ebook on or Almost 100,000 words on LI, allergies, milk products, milk-free products, and the genetics of intolerance, along with large helpings of the weirdness that is the Net.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Vinegar Helps Calcium Absorption

If you're going to drop dairy from your diet you need to make doubly sure you find ways to get the nutrients that dairy is famously has in abundance. Calcium is high on that list. Vegans are always quick to insist that you can get your calcium from green, leafy vegetables which are rich in calcium content. The latter high of that statement is true but the first half is more problematical.

Green, leafy vegetables contains chemicals called oxalates than bind the calcium in them, making the calcium unavailable for digestion. The calcium has low bioavailability, to put it another way. is a good source of information on oxalates.

Oxalates are naturally-occurring substances found in plants, animals, and in humans. In chemical terms, oxalates belong to a group of molecules called organic acids, and are routinely made by plants, animals, and humans. Our bodies always contain oxalates, and our cells routinely convert other substances into oxalates. For example, vitamin C is one of the substances that our cells routinely convert into oxalates. In addition to the oxalates that are made inside of our body, oxalates can arrive at our body from the outside, from certain foods that contain them.

Foods that contain oxalates

The following are some examples of the most common sources of oxalates, arranged by food group. It is important to note that the leaves of a plant almost always contain higher oxalate levels than the roots, stems, and stalks.

spinach, Swiss chard, beet greens, collards, okra, parsley, leeks and quinoa are among the most oxalate-dense vegetables
celery, green beans, rutabagas, and summer squash would be considered moderately dense in oxalates

So what is a dairy avoider to do?

Katie Alfieri, Rochester Wellness Examiner, blogged on that vinegar is the solution.
Dark, leafy greens are good sources of calcium, but some of these greens also contain compounds that inhibit calcium absorption. Adding a tablespoon of vinegar (either balsamic, apple cider or red wine) and 2 tablespoons of oil to your greens will allow you to absorb the calcium. This is especially beneficial for those who are lactose intolerant.

I always doublecheck information from, but in this case it's absolutely correct. The acetic acid in vinegar increases absorption of many important minerals. The oil is not strictly necessary but a vinaigrette is undoubtedly tastier for most folks. If taste is secondary you can even take a spoonful of vinegar with a glass of water before meals.

By the way, notice how many names of chemicals have littered this post. Beware anyone who talks about "chemicals" as some nasty, artificial creation to be avoided. Everything is a chemical and that means everything we eat is naturally no more than a huge mess o' chemicals. Without chemicals you would die instantly. Mostly because your body would simply disappear. Don't disparage chemicals. Celebrate them. It's our modern knowledge of chemicals that made the entire modern world of civilization possible. Every medication, natural, artificial, synthesized, or other is a chemical as well. Chemicals make you feel full, happy, and better. Understand them before you knock them.

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Unknown said...

Great information about vinegar helping with calcium absorption.


Sandra said...

Actually, a fat, be it butter or olive oil is essential in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins in the dark leafy greens.