Got Milk?

April 14, 2011
Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Award-winning nutritionist and New York Times bestselling author.

I hope not.

It’s all over the news. The radiation from the Japanese Fukushima nuclear meltdown is spreading world wide—and has been found in our milk. The levels of Iodine 131 alone have been reported to be 300% higher than maximum. But what about the other radioactive elements that could be in milk—a primary food source of calcium that many Americans depend upon for building strong teeth and bones.

First off, it’s strange to me that nobody is talking about Strontium 90—the most hazardous of all radiation elements to the bones and teeth. It sticks around in the environment for a good 28 years continually releasing its radioactive particles.

It is especially bone-seeking due to its close resemblance to calcium. Strontium 90 settles on vegetation and then can become incorporated into the meat, bone, and milk of animals that graze on grass. And that means it may soon find its way into cheese and other dairy products like sour cream, yogurt, and kefir.

So, what can you do about it, and how do you protect your little ones?

First off, keep in mind the following:
• You and your family can get the calcium you need without dairy. In Asia and Africa, where milk products are not included in the diet, the incidence of osteoporosis is negligible, while in Europe and North America—where milk and milk products are heavily consumed—osteoporosis is reaching epidemic proportions.

• Milk has nearly ten times more calcium than magnesium, which puts yet another strain on your body’s ability to absorb calcium. Magnesium helps calcium absorption, but too much calcium interferes with the absorption of magnesium. Magnesium reduces the need for calcium, but calcium increases the body’s need for magnesium.

• There are better sources of calcium than milk. More calcium can be found in a cup of cooked collard greens than 1 cup of milk. Three tablespoons of whole sesame seeds provide about 300 mg of calcium—the equivalent of 1 cup of whole, skim, or buttermilk!

• Nuts and seeds (especially high calcium and magnesium almonds) make great milk substitutes. Here is a do-it-yourself recipe for making sesame milk that was handed down to me from Dr. Hazel Parcells, the grande dame of nutrition—who lived to be 106! You will need 4 oz of hulled, whole sesame seeds and about 28 ounces of water. Add enough water to cover the blades of the blender and add the seeds. Start the blender on the lowest speed until seeds are well-mixed and increase the speed as you add more water and the seeds become completely crushed. Keep adding water until the container is filled up which will make a thick milkshake-like consistency—about 1 quart. You can add about 4 tablespoons of Fat Flush Whey Protein powder and ¼ tsp salt. Continue to blend until the whey is thoroughly mixed.

This basic recipe can be used for many different types of seeds and nuts. I like the sesame seeds in particular because the seed is nearly 50% protein and can raise the blood platelet count due to their Vitamin T content.

Other milk substitutes include So Delicious Dairy-Free Coconut Milk, Pacific Natural Foods Almond Milk, and Rice Dream Rice Drink (classic). But, these don’t supply the blood building ability of the humble sesame.

For more calcium support, take at look at Osteo-Key, which not only stops bone loss, but also promotes bone regeneration. It contains the best absorbed source of calcium—MCHA—along with a whole team of bone-building elements, including Vitamin K1 and two forms of Vitamin K2. K1 promotes higher bone density, while K2 has the unique ability to strengthen bones by cleaning calcium out of the arteries and depositing it into the bones. It’s a fantastic and effective calcium supplement that provides the recommended levels to protect against osteoporosis.

Related Articles and Podcasts

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, is an award-winning New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty books including The Fat Flush Plan series and her latest book, Radical Metabolism. She’s been rewriting the rules of nutrition for more than 40 years and is internationally recognized as a pioneer in the field of diet, detox and women’s health issues. 

For a FREE daily dose of tips and strategies for maintaining healthy weight, conquering insomnia, and much more…check out my Radical Health Tips.

I’d like to meet and greet you on my Facebook groups, so won’t you check us out at the Radical Metabolism RevolutionFat Flush Nation, or my Inner Circle!


  1. GD

    I appreciate some of your comments and nutritional advice, but as a long-term resident and professor in Tokyo I’m really bothered by your very uninformed exaggerations about radiation from the Fukushima plant. If you’ve actually taken the time to read scientific reports by all authorities and even outside observers such as Greenpeace and the international regulatory bodies that observe radiation, you would know that the US media is blowing things out of proportion, spreading sensationalist rumors, and making the relatives of people who live in Japan go into a total worried panic for little reason. The release of radiation is a serious problem bit not one that is seriously affecting global food supply in any respect. Especially here in Japan all of our food is closely monitored. You should have a look at the US Embassy Tokyo website and inform yourself properly before continuing to spread fear without substantiated information. Just because “it’s all over the news” is not a reliable source of information.

    What IS a real concern for us here in Japan is not milk, but rather the intense fear of further aftershocks, which keep rocking eastern Japan and sometimes causing more damage. I urge you to post more on how to eat well to alleviate anxiety or buyer healthy ways of thinking about life, rather than projecting an apocalyptic vision of nuclear contamination that simply isn’t the catastrophe you are suggesting it is. What is sad is that yes, tens of thousands of people may never be able to go home due to a 20km radius of irradiated land in Fukushima, and local crops from the immediate area cannot be consumed, but this is the worst of it– the iodine, cesium, and strontium you discuss showed up in no substantial quantity beyond an 80km zone around the plant, still very far from Tokyo– so why elicit panic? That fear is much worse for your health than any milk products. And by the way, seaweed in Japan is mostly harvested on the Japan sea coast, very far from and in a different coast from Fukushima. Your earlier warning about seaweed products from Japan was thus equally unwarranted.

  2. Annie

    Well, I have a fresh container of milk in the fridge. Should I throw it out? I live in Florida.

  3. Gail

    I quit drinking milk back in 2003, when I bought a copy of “The Fat Flush Plan”. I also thank you very much for you pointing out other sources of calcium besides dairy. When my son became old enough to drink milk and consistently developed gut ache, I did an elimination diet, based on the principals laid out in Phase 1, 2 and 3. We discovered that liquid milk was the problem, but yogurt and cheese were safe, as well as if the milk is in baked goods like bread, muffins. Thanks to you, we were spared rounds of peditriatic and allergist appointments. Our G.P. was impressed that we had the knowledge to figure out what was going on. My son is now almost nine years old and is nonchalant about saying “No thanks, I’ll drink water”.

  4. Vera Nika

    What a great article!! Thanks Ann Louise, will be spreading the word around!!

  5. Ronn

    Since whey and whey protein powders are dairy products, I’m wondering how long it will be before they too are contaminated with radiation.

    I appreciate the information on making our own nut and seed milks; I’ve been making them for my family and myself for years, and can vouch as to how nutritious and delicious they are.

    This is an excellent article that I will share with family and friends. Thank you for posting it!

  6. WB

    Thank you, GD, for responding to this fear mongering. I appreciate all that
    nutritional experts like Dr. Gittleman and Dr. Mercola, etc. have to offer to
    improve health. But it seems they’ve joined in the American collective consciousness
    that is completely fear based too, selling they’re own products as antidotes.
    No different than the AMA pushing money-making pharmaceuticals.

  7. concernedmom

    Reading both the Dr.’s health warnings and the Tokyo Professor’s comments above, I’m just plain at a loss as to what direction to go here with not only my health, but my entire family’s health! On one hand we get absolutely no hard, factual numbers coming out of Japan on just exactly how much radiation was/is released, and on the other hand we have our own US news websites and broadcasts declaring radiation in rainwater, milk products, and in our very own air we breathe. So, which is it, AND, are we ever going to get a clear, concise idea of just exactly how bad this is for the entire world?

    Professor, I hope you can see how confused we all must be over here in the US. I don’t think Dr. Gittleman is necessarily spreading uniformed exaggerations, but, at the same time, we aren’t exactly being told the whole story from Japan, either. It kind of leaves everyone in the US at a crossroads and it’s really going to have to be up to us as to which side we will believe. Do we want to protect our bodies from this harmful radiation? Of course! I am just hoping that everyone alive 30 years from now doesn’t develop some sort of cancer from being uniformed or mislead that this leaking radiation is “nothing to worry about” according to Japan, and you, for that matter.

    Bottom line is, I’d rather be told exaggerations at this point rather than absolutely nothing or plain denial from Japan.

  8. Sheryl

    GD – I agree with your comment. I also value Ann Louise’s nutritional advice, but do agree that the unsupported statement of U.S. milk contamination should have remained speculative, something like “We can’t be certain about contamination, but if you are concerned, here are my suggestions for non-dairy alternatives”. It appears insensitive to publicly be more nutritionally concerned about our food when so many of the Japanese people are still living in fear and suffering. Okay in private conversations, but not phrasing it that way in your newsletter or website…

  9. cathy

    I am more concerned about all the misinformation being spread about radiation fears.I don’t need to worry as I have an in house nuclear expert and many of our friends are also ‘NUKES”.The reason there is so much nonsense on media outlets is that reporters who have no scientific knowledge let alone nuclear knowledge have googled a few words and then formulated their own unscientific observations.I don’t care if they are standing in Fukashima.Hmmm why are they still there if it’s so bad?I have friends in high command military positions who live both short distances north and south of Fukashima.They are coordinating relief efforts. Very different story.It is confusing to not have accurate news.As a family our news is coming from the sources and so I understand the fear of so many,who do not have that advantage.However what ALG is saying is not correct and the fact that many posters feel it their duty to spread the word only exacerbates the issue.When milk was tested in Washington State more than a week ago it was found to be 5000% BELOW normal readings.Mis- informed people do not understand this and have caused many dairy farmers to dump milk that no one will buy.So another family farm may suffer needlessly due to this kind of fear.Very few people understand the terminology of Nuclear Power,Medicine or Nuclear Energy.So the best thing is to not make yourself sick about what is in our air.It is simply not in the US in numbers that will affect us.The half life of the initial radiation exposure has already reduced it so much to be a non issue and any subsequent releases will not be any stronger.Chernobyl has been used an as a comparison and dig all you want you will not find the wide spread cancer/deformities throughout Europe and the UK that were predicted then.Bottom line ,radiation is every where.How many of you cook and brush your teeth in rooms clad with granite?Be more concerned about the quantities of cat scans your Dr recommends ,solely to prevent you from suing and bankrupting him due to lack of tort reform and lawyers’ insatiable desire for malpractice settlements.Your milk,cheese and yogurt are fine.

  10. Judith Coran

    And we don’t even know if our own government is withholding information from us. Better to be prepared.

  11. Deana

    Fear, anxiety and projection into the unknown are all very real hazards to total health and well-being.

    Dr. Gittleman, your comments on milk substitutes are interesting…However, I suffer from 3 duverticuli and am currently experiencing my first diverticulosis flare. Nuts, especially sesemie seeds, are a big no-no.

    I’m much more interested in learing how to safely combat and live with this condition, that will lead to colon cancer if left unchecked, than I am in projecting about “possible” health hazards.

    I choose to continue having my kefer, greek yogurt, acidopholis and probiotic pearls, within moderation, in an attempt to keep my colon healthy.

  12. dC

    thanks GD for taking the time to write that. I, too, like cathy am also concerned about the smal farms who could be affected by this type of sensationalism based on fear. I do respect ALG – just think we need to be careful about what we put out there

  13. cathy

    Here is the problem with the website the Administrator has sent us to read.None of these tests were done BEFORE,the Japanese disaster.Radiation levels can seep in through other sources.No safe levels of radiation is BS .Tell that to the tens of thousands of active duty and retired men and women who are/have served on Nuclear ships .According to this article ,half of them would have died of radiation poisoning. NOT!!! BTW the way there is a difference between nuclear radiation and contamination,something that uneducated people do not understand.Can you say AGENDA!

  14. Susan

    I like you Cathy…You’ve got spunk! I don’t know where I am with this whole thing…I’m still trying to make a decision. But I do wonder: Isn’t just about everything we eat these days blasted with radiation to kill the germs? Sheesh, even spinach gets blasted now.

    Why does nobody get fired up about the toxic crap and chemicals in our food? Or the fact that so many foods have been declared germ free by irradiating them? I read that even all glass will be irradiated now. We all get so worked up over one thing, when in reality, the government is killing us everyday anyway.

  15. Administrator

    Thank youi again for your comments. As a point of reference, however, the date of the Japanese earthquake was March 13, 2011. The dates posted re the various collection sites for milk around the country (referenced in the link above) were collected about one to two weeks after this date.

    We would also call your attention to the long term research and work of Dr. Ernest Sternglass, Dr. John Gofman, and Dr. Jay Gould about the health implications of radioactive emissions from nuclear power plants.

  16. Sierra

    It looks like Hawaii is really experiencing considerably higher levels than anywhere else, and of 3 different isotopes. The oddball is Arkansas… which is at about 8 times the amount of iodine 131 than was found on the west coast. Weird, eh??

  17. cathy

    Sierra,it i not weird.If you look at the jet stream for wind travel you will see Hawaii is not i the path.The reality as Susan said is a lot of fruits and veggies are zapped to kill parasites.If not when you open a papaya in NYC ,it would be full of larvae.Fish is flash frozen to kill parasites .SO much is done to food and it is not all bad.You could revert to the diet of the 40’s and 50’s when fresh fruits and veggies were only available during their season or if you lived in a growing area.So if you want to go back to canned mushy veggies and fruits,cause you live in the midwest,canned meats,chicken etc then if that will ease your mind go for it.As consumers we have demanded foods from all over the country and the whole be on our grocers shelves year round .How do you think bananas get here,strawberries and spinach year round.Just think about.It is important to know this.At any given time we have mutated cells in our bodies,they can become cancerous or not depending on what we eat,and drink.Sure there are other factors,but you can mitigate many of them with proper lifestyle.Many of you have come to recognize that obesity does not have to follow generation after’s called habit,you have done something about it.I for one will not allow my family to worry about this,stop flying or enjoying a gourmet meal from my gourmet kitchen,or slicing into a heavenly papaya sprinkled with a dash of salt and squeeze of lime.The next xray,I get will take care of any baby cancer cells.Lighten up folks most of us will die in a car accident ,from a fall in our bathrooms,pneumonia,or massive heart attack from worry,long before radiation affects us.Enjoy your life now and research what you need and always take everything with a grain of salt!

  18. cathy

    please post the link to your comments about Hawaii.Thank you.

  19. GD

    Without adding to any of the understandable concern or confusion here I should point out that it’s a lot calmer here in Tokyo than it is probably in the States regarding this matter. I urge all Americans to have a good look at the great resources the US government has put together for us at the US Embassy Tokyo website. If it’s any consolation, the Japanese public and all expats here are a billion times more nervous about this than you are. There is, ad has been confirmed, NO withholding of imformation but rather that there was a delay in getting accurate appraisals of the radiation leakage in the early days of this crisis. The largest leak was in the very first days, but the amount has dropped to a level where it only concerns a twelve mile radius around the plant as a security measure. Widespread background radiation has been a factor for most people in the world, from natural radon gas, from pollution, from coal burning, etc. So to get accurate readings you need to compare what the radiation level was before the incident and note for example that even we in Tokyo only had a minuscule elevation of radiation that has since subsided. That you guys in the US should be getting new and abnormal radiation spikes in your environment and food supply as a result of Fukushima is complete hype. Educate yourself by pretending you are an American in Japan by looking at our embassy site and you’ll do yourself a big favor. The media bandwagon in the states is simply nog to be trusted anymore.

  20. GD

    I meant NOT to be trusted– silly iPhone…

  21. cathy

    GD ,I concur with you completely.I commented earlier that while levels were taken after there was no baseline.But this rational thinking will fall on many deaf ears as they only want to hear what they want ,and the wrong people are dispensing info..All this banter of isotopes and radiation is not simple science that can be learned in a day from google.I am glad we have this website ,more people should read it. This too shall pass,and thankfully become a distant memory at least in the US.My condolences to the people of Japan,they have been brave,calm and respectful ,and I know they are gratetul for US cooperation.Thank you for your posts.

  22. Administrator

    Thank you again for your comments. We agree that many water supplies in ths US are already contaminated by naturally occurring radioactivity including uranium, strontium, radium and alpha and beta particles. However, the level of these radioactive contaminants are usually below the Maximum Concentration Level allowed by the government. Comparing naturally occurring radiation – which we have no control over by and large – to the dangers of artifical radioactivity is an attempt to trivilaize the danger.

    Experts throughout the world all agree that low levels of radiation may not be safe – as there is simply no safe level of radiation whether “miniscule” or not. Dr. John Gofman, MD, PhD, who was hired by the Atomic Energy Commission to investigate the impact of radiation on human beings has published a myriad of books and papers which more than substantiate this. HIs classic Poisoned Power: The Case Against Nuclear Plants is as relevant today as it was when it was published decades ago.

    In addition, Dr. Abram Petkau, discovered way back in 1972 that the free radical effect from manmade chronic “low level radiation exposure” to be one thousand times greater than from a single large exposure from an atomic blast.

    As of April 8, 10,000 tons of radioactive waste was dumped into the Pacific Ocean because it was obviously deemed too dangerous to transport somewhere else.

    Sadly, Fukushima is now considered another Chernobyl.

  23. Sierra

    GD, Cathy and all- regardless of what any government (Japanese or American) is telling or not telling us, I will be following protective measures and urging my friends and family to do the same. I’ve searched the US Embassy Tokyo website- the only valuable pieces of information that i could find were warnings to parents that the water in Tokyo was contaminated with Iodine-131 and should not be given to infants, and that the situation is currently a 7 on the global disaster rating, based not on the initial event but on the health implications for years to come. I believe the Chernobyl disaster also received a 7 rating. And on that note, the rate of thyroid cancer among those in the area of Chernobyl increased by 2400% after the incident- so I don’t know how anyone could tell you that there were no health consequences associated with that event. Also, the ‘acceptable level’ of Iodine-131 for infants in Japan is 100 becquerels per liter. The US EPA’s standards for this radioactive element are less than 0.1 becquerels per liter- for an adult. So my Cousin, who is serving her country in the Navy, and also carrying a child, was removed from Japan by the US government. Thank God.
    I live within about 300 miles of the Hanford nuclear site in Washington state, which is where numerous consequential errors were made in the handling of nuclear material. The surrounding area now magically has a higher-than-average instance of thyroid cancer and brain tumors.
    I’m not into fear mongering or conspiracy theories. Frankly though, I don’t trust that I am being given all the information regarding this catastrophic event in Japan, nor do I trust that the sources who are delivering any information fully understand the consequences of what has happened. Facing such a fear provoking global situation- I am happy to follow the advice of Dr. Ann Louise, who learned much of this information from Dr. Hazel Parcells, who had extensive experience with nuclear theory and radiation exposure. It is one thing I can do to feel empowered in a time when all other power has been taken away from us by this natural disaster.
    It doesn’t take a nuclear scientist to tell you, “Better safe than sorry”.

  24. Clara Bellino

    Thank you administrator for answering and articulating your answer so well. I also believe that some comments trivialize the danger of nuclear power plants. Some comments seem to me to be pure wishful thinking and denial. We all live with a certain amount of denial to keep our sanity, and through this Japanese tragedy, I have been made aware that some people can not conceive of anyone deliberately engaging in creating nuclear power plants if indeed when there is an accident the consequences are a threat to a healthy life and affect everyone. I know from personal experience that Chernobyl did and to this day is making people sick. Animal and humans alike have been born with deformities; I grew up in the French Alps. My dad is on a lifetime thyroid treatment due to Chernobyl. The specialist he saw said that prior to Chernobyl she was seeing one young person every 6 months maybe. After Chernobyl, 3 young people a day on average. I find it difficult to read comments that say that one can not find the disastrous effects of Chernobyl. When they are well documented and people are still dealing with the consequences. In Germany wild boar meat is still being destroyed rather than sold because the level of radiation in it is too high due to Chernobyl, 25 years later! That was one reactor, here we have 7…I also have a suspicion that readers who downplay this accident and want to make it palatable would be reacting very differently were that accident happening at the nuclear power plant in their backyard. And that is what I think is the delusion, people invested in continuing to build those time bombs are under the illusion that they can control whether there will be an accident or not. The problem is our health can not afford even one accident as the technology gets tweaked, trial and error in this technology comes at too high a cost, when health is valued over profit. Personally given the dangers of radiation to human life it boggles my mind that we even built them in the first place. I believe humans are ingenious enough to come up with energy sources that are both safe and profitable.

  25. Riel

    GD Thank you for your knowledgeable comment. You communicated many of the points I had planned on making too. I also live in Japan and although I am not a huge consumer of milk, I have been following the reports on the safety of the Japanese food supply. If anyone is interested you can find up to date info here You will need to use Google translate.

  26. Elizabeth Good

    Wow, quite a lively debate going on here! I appreciate the often insightful and useful thoughts of so many smart readers. Administrator, I would *never* give anything from the Natural News site as a reference–everything they write is fear-based, often inaccurate, and for selling their products. On the other hand, I firmly believe that ALG tries hard to impart useful information to us all! And that she comes from very deep goodwill, not just product selling (though that is obviously in there too).

    I am confused, however, if this is true, why her protocols still use whey powder? I wonder what really is safe or not to use.

    Best to dowse all foods for oneself, on a daily basis, if possible.

  27. MBach

    I not going to fret about the water, life is short enough… but being that I am not a calf, I see no reason to drink cow’s milk.
    Get your calcium in your vegetables and drink your cran water.

  28. Laura

    The Weston A. Price Foundation has been a great help to me over the last several years regarding nutrition, the argument over dairy and so much more. I highly recommend considering a visit to their website:-)



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