Does drinking milk actually make your bones stronger?

Everyone has heard the saying that drinking milk will make your bones grow stronger and i’m sure that your parents encouraged this too. But is this actually true? Can drinking milk do more harm then good? This is a very popular study topic and there are actaully many researches that have found that there is no association between drinking milk and having fewer bone fractures. I found this to be very interesting, considering I have been told this my whole life, so I decided to look further into this.

Null Hypothesis: Milk does not effect a child’s growth or bone strength

Hypothesis: Milk helps kids grow and develop strong bones

 

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Where does this saying come from?

This belief has been around for years now, your bones need calcium and milk can provide that for them. The main ingredient in bones is obviously calcium and if your body does not get enough calcium from your diet then it starts to pull calcium from your bones. This is why many doctors recommend a steady income of calcium per day to prevent  this from happening.

Recent studies questioning this…

Recently a lot of researchers have began looking in to this and have began to question this commonly known “fact”.  Researchers have developed an “acid-ash” hypothesis that says milk leaves an acid residue in your body and in order to balance this your body pulls alkaline minerals from your bones, such as calcium. So instead of giving the bones calcium the milk is actaully taking calcium away. Other researchers have compared bone fractures to the countries that consume the most dairy. They found that the countries that consumed more dairy (aka their bones should be stronger) had more bone fractures than the others that consumed less. In another study done at James Madison University looked at kids ages 5-11 so see if milk had an effect on their height. They noticed that the consumption of milk had no impact on height and came to the conclusion that milk is not a contributing factor in children’s growth.

Conclusion

Researchers have found themselves siding with the null hypothesis in this debate. Although there seems to be a lot of data strongly debunking the fact that milk helps kids grow and develop strong bones, that doesn’t mean all kids should stop drinking milk. There are many things that could have gone wrong in these studies and third variables could be effecting the data. The results from these studies could also just be due to a false positive. We cant know for sure but more studies should definitely be done before drawing conclusions. In the meantime don’t stop drinking milk because of these results. Although is may not help a child grow or develop strong bones, you still need your daily intake of calcium to be healthy. On top of that milk has a lot of other benefits, milk is a good source of potassium and is also very good for your teeth.

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1 thought on “Does drinking milk actually make your bones stronger?

  1. Wesley Scott Alexander

    I thought this post was very interesting, especially considering I have heard that saying all my life. In fact, I have had a few broken bones throughout my life due to sports, and people have always joked that I need to drink more milk. I find it very interesting that milk does not, in fact, help at all with bone strength and as you described, might actually increase your chances of fracturing a bone! I also found this article that further supports the research you found. How interesting that there is actually a correlation between high levels of calcium and poor bone density!

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