Some Americans assume they can replace dairy foods with vitamin D-fortified orange juice or calcium-fortified soy beverages and get the same result. 

But that is a fallacy, according to a new article in the journal Nutrition Research — especially as it relates to calcium.

“Although it is possible to meet calcium intake recommendations without consuming dairy foods, calcium replacement foods are not a nutritionally equivalent substitute for dairy foods,” researchers say.

The researchers evaluated data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Study, involving 16,822 people. The impact of removing one serving of dairy — or removing it completely — and replacing it with non-dairy calcium sources was evaluated.

Among other things, they found that Americans consume approximately 1.8 cups of dairy per day or about 60 percent of the recommended servings.

“Removing a serving of dairy or completely eliminating dairy foods from the American diet would have significant consequences on some already-inadequate nutrient intakes,” they say. “Non-dairy calcium replacement foods would not fill those nutrient gaps.”

Part of the reason: Most replacement foods are rarely consumed.

View the research abstract here.