Being vegan, many people ask where I get my calcium if I don't eat dairy foods (among other nutrients).
For years, I've studied the available research on milk and other dairy products and have always believed that milk, especially in it's current form, is not an essential part of a healthy diet that I would recommend, and can actually be harmful to your health.
Case in point. Some years ago I was speaking with a mother that complained about how many reoccuring ear infections her daughter had and that she was constantly on antibiotics. She also suffered from colds and was sick more often than what she would consider normal. After asking some questions about the girls diet, I found that she drank milk more than several times a day, and consumed other dairy foods and foods containing dairy by-products. I recommended she cut out all dairy products and substitute unsweetened soy or rice milk, fresh vegetables and when she had a craving for something sweet, a non-dairy frozen dessert (made with soy or rice milk).
In less than a month, the mother reported that her daughter hadn't been sick at all during that time, and over the next two years, she had only been sick once or twice with a minor cough or cold. This was a major relief for the mother and a blessing for the girl since she not only felt better, but felt good not having to take medicine all the time.
Now comes evidence that the calcium benefit the dairy industry claims is vital to growing children... well, really isn't. In one of the most comprehensive review of over 27 studies looking into the benefits of calcium from milk sources found that only three out of the 27 studies found any benefit, and very little benefit at that. Read an article detailing the studies here.
Some of the existing research notes that fruit and vegetable sources of calcium are better absorped by our bodies, and that after milk is pasturized and fortified, the calcium is no longer in a form that is easy for us to assimilate and thus not much of a benefit. Studies note that getting out, staying active and exercising will do more for strong bones than drinking milk, a powerful statement that the dairy industry doesn't want you to hear.
Dairy products have been know to cause excess mucus, carry growth hormones (in almost all non-organic milk and dairy products) and cause allergic reactions to a large portion of humans that can't digest or are in some way allergic to dairy products (dairy allergies are one of the top allergies we may have - but most don't know it).
The way I look at it, why go through all the problems associated with dairy products when you can get plentiful calcium in other fruits and vegetables, bio-available vitamin supplements and get stronger bones by exercising and staying active?