After our Thanksgiving dinner, my family and I were sitting around the kitchen table talking. My elderly grandmother expressed her recent health concerns, explains that her bones are growing to be very weak. She then continued to say: “Maybe my bones are weak because I did not drink enough milk growing up.” This statement got me thinking – could my grandmother’s deteriorating bones stem from not drinking enough milk growing up?
To my surprise, there has recently been a widespread of debunking the myth of milk: drink milk to build strong bones. In fact, according to Vivian Goldschmidt, drinking milk can actually make you lose calcium from your body. In fact, animal milk actually acidifies the body, and in order to neutralize the acidity, you need calcium – the same calcium that you should be intaking from the milk you are drinking. So, essentially, drinking milk can actually lead to a calcium deficiency. Who would have guessed?
Amongst a plethora of nutritional articles, I came across a study by Roland L Weinsier and Carlos L Krumdieck studying all dairy foods and their affect on bone health.
I believe this examination would actually classify as a meta-analysis, because it examines the outcomes of forty-six studies on the effects of dairy (11 out of 46 had 2 outcomes – so 57 outcomes total to review). Weinsier and Krumdieck reviewed the impact of dairy in relation to age, sex, and ethnic identities.
- Dairy intake promotes bone growth
- Reverse Causation:
- Bone growth sparks dairy intake
- Third Confounding Variables:
- Dietary Restrictions
- Other health concerns (body mass, physical activity, alcohol consumption, etc)
After reviewing the randomized controlled trials, longitudinal studies, and case studies, the researchers found the 53% showed a insignificant effect. However, 42% showed a favorable effect. Dairy intake seemed to be most beneficial for white women over the age of 30, men and ethnic groups were underrepresented. Though, researchers admit to a definite influence of third variables as listed above. Leaving it difficult to come to a clear consensus, unfortunately.
Though implementing dairy into your diet does display some benefit, a logical person may refrain from mass quantity. Luckily, the Harvard School of Public Health offers some various other options to building strong bones:
- Go for veggies! Green vegetables such as broccoli and leafy greens (kale) are often rich in calcium and can do wonders for your body.
- Vitamin D is also a good source to make up for lack of calcium in your diet.
- Exercise has a huge influence on your bones. If you stay active and utilize your cardio, your bones will grow to be stronger on their own.
- Retinol (vitamin A) can actually weaken your bones – avoid a surplus in your diet.
- Bone growth is vital in adolescents, it’s important to ensure kids maintain a balanced diet and exercise routine.
Growing up, I had never been a fan of milk or any diary products in particular (I know I’m weird). So I was always slightly concerned that I was not getting adequate nutrition in my daily diet. However, after the studies, and the latest research on milk’s influence on the body, I am more confident that my bones are in fact, just fine with my current exercise routine and leafy green diet.
Goldschmidt, MA Vivian. “Debunking The Milk Myth: Why Milk Is Bad For You And Your Bones.” Debunking The Milk Myth: Why Milk Is Bad For You And Your Bones. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Dec. 2016.
Roland L Weinsier. “Roland L Weinsier.” Dairy Foods and Bone Health: Examination of the Evidence. N.p., 2000. Web. 01 Dec. 2016.
“Calcium and Milk.” The Nutrition Source. N.p., 2016. Web. 01 Dec. 2016.