Milk Builds Strong, Healthy Bones...Or Does It?
Since we were kids, we have been taught the endless benefits of drinking milk, especially for the development of strong bones and healthy teeth. And when it comes to milk, we certainly practice what we preach! We pour it on our cereal for breakfast and serve it to our kids each day in school; remember the saying - “Milk - it does a body good!”.... Or does it?
We’ve come to understand that a key factor in the development of strong, healthy bones is consuming adequate amounts of calcium, magnesium and other essential minerals like selenium and zinc. So, it stands to reason that drinking milk, which contains all these essential minerals, on a regular basis would be the perfect way to ensure strong, healthy bones - but recent research demonstrates the opposite may actually be true!
In fact, the study, which followed the milk consumption habits of over 100,000 men and women (ages 39-79) over a 15-year period, found that those who drank three or more glasses of milk per day not only increased their risk of bone and hip fracture, they also nearly doubled their overall risk of mortality.
Looking further into the reasons behind these shocking conclusions, researchers found that milk alone might not provide the health benefits we once thought it did. Specifically, D-galactose, a natural sugar found in milk, when consumed in large quantities, has been shown to induce oxidative stress damage and chronic inflammation in the body. The damage resulting from chronic inflammation has been linked to bone loss and decreased muscle mass, as well as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and even certain cancers.
The other important point to consider is that while calcium is essential for bone health, vitamin D promotes calcium absorption and maintains adequate blood levels of calcium and phosphate to allow for normal bone mineralization. Considering that the majority of people are deficient in vitamin D and that milk, unless it is fortified with vitamin D, does not contain adequate amounts of vitamin D, the calcium in milk is most likely not being absorbed into your bones.
As a result, new guidelines recommend drinking a maximum of one cup of milk a day and seeking calcium, magnesium, zinc and vitamin D from other, non-dairy sources, including dark leafy greens like kale and Swiss chard, broccoli, figs, or oranges.
If you find it difficult to consume adequate amounts of these vitamins and minerals through whole food sources, you’ll definitely want to supplement with a high-quality multi-vitamin that sources its ingredients from bioavailable whole food sources.