How Much Daily Dairy Should You Really Be Having?

A recent study suggests drinking too much milk may actually be harmful to your health. (Image: Tambako the Jaguar via Compfight cc)
A recent study suggests drinking too much milk may actually be harmful to your health. (Image: Tambako the Jaguar via Compfight cc)

For years, you have been told milk is an excellent food to add to your diet. After all, milk contains 18 of the 22 essential nutrients you require, like the powerful combination of calcium and vitamin D, a duo associated with bone health and believed to reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

Milk is also linked to other benefits, such as:

  • Healthy blood pressure
  • Lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that adults drink 3 cups of milk a day for a healthy diet, because in theory, milk seems to be good for us, or as WebMB reports on it’s website:

“Milk contains a big package of nutrients that are especially important to bone health,” says Connie M. Weaver, PhD, who directs the nutrition department at Purdue University. “People who don’t drink milk tend to be deficient in them. So it makes good sense to encourage people to consume dairy products.”

Well, a recent study published in the BMJ suggests that drinking milk in the long run may instead be harmful to your health.

The observational research conducted in Sweden by Prof. Karl Michaëlsson is inviting us to review the health benefits of milk. The study tracked the diets of about 100,000 middle-aged women and men for 20 years.

The women who consumed three or more glasses of milk a day were more likely to suffer from bone fractures and a higher risk of death than those who drank one glass of milk or less.  Although less pronounced than in the female group, men also had a higher risk of death with higher milk consumption.

The research also linked milk with oxidative stress and inflammation for both sexes. In humans, oxidative stress is related to the development of cancerParkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s diseaseatherosclerosis, heart failuremyocardial infarctionfragile X syndromeSickle Cell Diseaselichen planusvitiligoautisminfection, and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Should we stop drinking milk altogether then? According to livescience:

 “People shouldn’t change their dietary habits based on the findings of a single study,” Michaelsson said. “But he admitted he quit drinking milk two years ago”

There are many doctors who advocate for a dairy-free diet, such as Dr. Mark Hyman, arguing: “Countries with the lowest rates of dairy and calcium consumption [like those in Africa and Asia] have the lowest rates of osteoporosis.”

And let’s remember that dairy is not the only source of calcium. The Harvard School of Public Health suggestions for non-dairy sources of calcium include collards, bok choy, fortified soy milk, baked beans, and supplements that contain both calcium and vitamin D (a better choice than taking calcium alone).

If you are a dairy lover, it’s not all bad news for you. Fermented dairy products, such as cheese, yogurt, sour cream, and kefir have been shown to have a positive effect on lifespan.


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