You probably grew up hearing the axiom “milk – it does a body good” over and over again. Your mom likely made you drink milk in large quantities at the advice of your pediatrician to make sure you got enough calcium. Even movie stars, singers and athletes encourage you to drink more milk by wearing milk mustaches. And all of this was done in the name of promoting healthy and strong bones and teeth.
Recent research published online March 5, 2012 in the journal Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine is generating doubt about this deep-rooted notion.
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Researchers designed a cohort study to determine the effectiveness of dairy products, calcium and vitamin D in reducing stress fractures among girls aged 9 to 15 years old.
More than 6,700 adolescent girls who engaged in high-impact activities were observed during the seven year study. Food frequency questionnaires were administered every 12 to 24 months from 1996 to 2001 to determine participant intake of dairy products, calcium and vitamin D.
Remarkably, and against conventional wisdom, scientists discovered that dairy and calcium intake did not afford any protective benefit from stress fractures. On the other hand those who had the highest intake of vitamin D had a 50 percent lower risk of stress fracture when compared with those with the lowest intake.
These findings suggest that vitamin D may be more important than calcium when it comes to bone health. In 2010, the Institute of medicine increased the recommended daily intake of vitamin D from 400 IU to 600 IU per day for adolescents due to the growing body of evidence regarding the health benefits of vitamin D.
Milk contains significant quantities of calcium, about 290 mg per cup, which is important for healthy bones. However, holistic health practitioners have always advocated that milk isn’t as healthy as the milk processors and dairy farmers would have you believe. In fact, many holistic practitioners suggest that milk is unhealthy for adults, and promotes congestion and the formation of mucous within the body.
According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, a leading natural health expert, the type of milk you consume is what causes increased phlegm production. Mercola says that milk produced by certain breeds of cows contains a protein called beta-CM-7, which could “stimulate phlegm-particularly in people who suffer from chronic lung conditions.”
According to Harvard’s School of Public Health it’s not clear that we need as much calcium as is generally recommended. They also suggest that dairy products may not be the best source of calcium for most people. Instead, they recommend getting your calcium from non-dairy sources like collard greens, bok choy, fortified soy milk, baked beans and dietary supplements that contain both calcium and vitamin D.
If you want healthy and strong bones, the next time you see the most recent advertising campaign from the milk processors and dairy farmers -“Got Milk?”- you may want to say “no” and swallow a vitamin D supplement in stead.