Raw Dairy does not hinder iron absorption and assimilation

November 29, 2018


Genesis 18:8 And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat.


God's inspired Word will guide us through the often intricate and contradictory mazes of human research. Abraham served his heavenly guests a meal that included butter and milk. Raw dairy was a major part of their lives, and it was often eaten with honey, and with major meals, as the above verse reveals.


Yet, it is often claimed that calcium hinders the absorption of iron when eaten with meals. Is this really true in regard to raw dairy, in any significant manner?:


"It has been suggested that in some cases, the negative associations between iron status and calcium or dairy product intake may be due to the displacement of other foods from the diet (e.g., meat), rather than the inhibitory effect of calcium itself..."
(Nutrients. 2014 Sep; 6)


In fact, the following studies counter the assertion that calcium (or raw dairy) inhibits iron:


"Milk's effect on the bioavailability of iron from cereal-based diets in young women by use of in vitro and in vivo methods...Iron absorption was higher with milk than without milk in seven of the eight subjects [iron absorption averaged 8.97% with milk and 8.04% without milk]...The results suggest that in vivo and in vitro effects differ and that the absorption of iron from cereal-based diets is neither enhanced nor inhibited by the addition of milk."
(Am J Clin Nutr. 1990 Aug)


"There was no decrease in apparent iron absorption during the milk diet periods..."
(Am J Clin Nutr. 1995 Dec)


"Calcium from milk or calcium-fortified foods does not inhibit nonheme-iron absorption from a whole diet consumed over a 4-d [day] period...Consumption of a glass of milk with the 3 main meals or of an equivalent amount of calcium from fortified foods does not decrease nonheme-iron absorption from a 4-d diet."
(Am J Clin Nutr, 2004)


"The addition of milk or yogurt to a plant-based diet increases zinc bioavailability but does not affect iron bioavailability in women...The subjects were 48 Mexican women...The women were assigned to 1 of 3 groups: 1) the typical rural Mexican diet, 2) that diet with milk added, or 3) that diet with yogurt for 13 d...Including milk and yogurt in the diet increased zinc absorption by 50 and 68%, respectively...The 3 groups did not differ in the percentage iron absorption...The total amount of zinc absorbed was increased...by 70% when milk was added to the meal and 78% when yogurt was added. The total amount of iron absorbed did not differ among the groups. The addition of milk and yogurt to a plant-based diet high in phytate increases zinc bioavailability without affecting iron bioavailability."

(J Nutr. 2005, Mar)


[Notice that the protein in milk appears to even counteract the negative role of phytates on zinc absorption!]


"…a thorough review of studies on humans in which Ca intake was substantially increased for long periods shows no changes in hematological measures or indicators of iron status…"

(Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2010, Oct)


"In a randomized crossover trial over 4 days, the consumption of a glass of milk with 3 main meals, or the consumption of calcium-fortified foods providing an equivalent amount of calcium, did not inhibit non heme-iron absorption. In another study, it was found that the addition of milk or yogurt to a plant-based diet did not affect iron bioavailability..."
(Dairy Nutrition, July 23, 2018)


The real question is not whether calcium supplements, or even pasteurized dairy, will hinder iron absorption - but whether raw dairy, and fermented dairy, will do so!:


"During the fermentation of milk, lactic acid and other organic acids are produced and these increase the absorption of iron. If fermented milk is consumed at mealtimes, these acids are likely to have a positive effect on the absorption of iron from other foods."

(European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, volume 56, 2002)


Enzymes and live cultures that are present in raw and fermented dairy products play a big role in increasing iron absorption and assimilation in the body. Furthermore, the use of various acids with meals greatly enhances iron absorption. For example, vitamin C [in natural, food-based form], citric acid, etc., increase iron absorption. In the Bible, raw dairy was often consumed with honey, etc., which increases iron levels in the body.


God is good! Let us study and trust His Word!







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