Should I Drink Milk to Prevent Osteoporosis?
Although I believe whey protein, which comes from dairy is a great source of protein, I do not believe dairy is healthy in general. We have all been brainwashed to think that dairy products strengthen bones and stave off osteoporosis. But this is not the case. Walter Willett, M.D., professor of preventive medicine at the Harvard School of Public Health and his colleagues analyzed dietary information gathered from nearly 80,000 women, ages 30 to 55, over a 12-year period. They found no evidence that women who consumed one to three servings daily of milk or other calcium-rich foods–like cheese or yogurt–reduced their risk of hip fractures, the standard measure for osteoporosis.
The findings became even more dramatic when the Harvard researchers examined women who consumed three or more servings of dairy a day and found that none had any added protection against bone fractures. The data shows that Vitamin D appears to be much more important than calcium in preventing fractures. And interestingly, countries with lowest rates of dairy and calcium consumption (like those in Africa and Asia) have the lowest rates of osteoporosis.
So, apart from being the source of whey protein, there do not appear to be any other benefits of dairy and to make matters worse, dairy seems to have detrimental effects to your health. Milk should be for calves (baby cows), most humans have a problem digesting it. I cannot tell you how many patients I have seen over the years whose chronic constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, arthritis, chronic sinusitis and allergies cleared up when they stopped eating dairy. When people come to see me in my practice and I put them on a diet, I almost always remove dairy.
So what do I suggest?
- Don’t rely on dairy for calcium. Rather eat lots dark green leafy vegetables, sea vegetables, canned salmon or sardines with bones, sesame seeds and nuts. And you can always take a calcium supplement.
- For healthy bones, exercise frequently and supplement with at least 2,000 IUs of vitamin D as well. Get your vitamin D levels checked!!
Try this test and see how you feel. Remove dairy for 2-3 weeks and see how you feel. Then introduce it again and see how you feel. Most people feel better when they remove it and worse when they re-introduce it. If you don’t seem to have a problem with dairy, then I suggest using only small amounts of organic dairy products, preferably fermented products like unsweetened yogurt and kefir, and preferably raw if possible (hard to get in most states).