Milk has long been touted as the best food to consume for bone health. The combination of calcium and vitamin D in milk is potent, but not necessarily for your bones.
In fact, recent findings from Harvard Medical School shed new light on the “drink milk” campaign, suggesting that drinking milk has nothing to do with bone health.
Calcium is the nutrient that plays the most crucial role in maintaining healthy bones. Without calcium, your body is unable to produce new cells for your bones to repair and stay strong. Calcium, along with phosphorus, is turned into healthy bone.
The human body doesn’t produce calcium, so it must be obtained via food sources. Insufficient calcium consumption can lead to weak or improperly grown bones. Low bone density causes bones to break more easily, and can lead to osteoporosis and other health problems.
A Harvard Medical School study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, raises questions about the milk-bone connection. Assistant Professor Diane Feskanich tracked the bone health of 35,000 men and 61,000 women, middle-aged and older, over 22 years.
Of note, 490 men in the study suffered from hip fractures, along with 1,126 women. Ninety percent of the fractures occurred as a result of a fall or a slip, common among the elderly. Those that consumed large quantities of milk during their teenage years — based on personal recall — had the same risk as those who consumed less, suggesting drinking milk isn’t enough to stave off osteoporosis. Aging bones are just as likely to break and decay, regardless of the amount of milk that was consumed in the formative years.
The study results give experts a reason to pause and reexamine the many dietary recommendations made today.
This isn’t an excuse to stop drinking milk. Milk has vitamin D, protein, and other nutrients that the body needs.
Dairy products are a diet staple, although growing numbers cannot digest dairy properly. If you fall into this category, try to to consume calcium-rich alternatives daily. Good non-dairy calcium sources include leafy green vegetables, broccoli, cabbage, okra, salmon, shrimp, sardines and tofu. These foods provide enough calcium to produce new bone cells, ensuring that your bones stay healthy and strong for years to come.
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