Should Your Family Drink Cow’s Milk?

milk controversy

 

Really? You’ve got to be kidding me.

We need calcium for healthy teeth and bones.

Milk, it does a body good. Pass it on.

Do you remember the commercial?

During infancy, milk is the elixir of life. Whether from a container of formula, or from a human mother, milk is designed to give a human baby all the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients necessary for a good start in life.  

Six reasons to drink milk:

  • Calcium
  • Vitamin D
  • Healthy bones
  • Healthy teeth
  • Rehydration
  • Increases vitamin intake

Calcium

Milk is a good source of calcium, and calcium is good for our bones. It’s essential to get the daily amount to maintain strong bones and health. Too little calcium invites future health risks.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. Most milk in the US is fortified with 100 to 120 IU. It promotes bone health and helps reduce the risk of osteoporosis.  

Healthy bones

Several factors contribute to healthy bones, and strong bone structure is supported by calcium intake. When an injury happens strong bones are less likely to fracture.

Healthy teeth

Milk is better than water at protecting tooth enamel, neutralizing sugar, and stopping bacteria from producing harmful acid.

Rehydration

Milk, in large part, is made with water. It is an excellent source for rehydration.

Increases vitamin intake

Milk has vitamins and minerals good for eyesight while increasing the energy and protein good for body health and growth.

All of those are good reasons for milk consumption. How much calcium should we ingest daily?

Age Male Female Pregnant Lactating
0–6 months* 200 mg 200 mg
7–12 months* 260 mg 260 mg
1–3 years 700 mg 700 mg
4–8 years 1,000 mg 1,000 mg
9–13 years 1,300 mg 1,300 mg
14–18 years 1,300 mg 1,300 mg 1,300 mg 1,300 mg
19–50 years 1,000 mg 1,000 mg 1,000 mg 1,000 mg
51–70 years 1,000 mg 1,200 mg
71+ years 1,200 mg 1,200 mg

Source: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

Are there other ways to consume calcium? Food is real, and it has plenty of calcium to meet our daily needs, especially if we plan to eat it throughout the day.

Food Milligrams (mg)

per serving

Percent DV*
Yogurt, plain, low fat, 8 ounces 415 42
Mozzarella, part skim, 1.5 ounces 333 33
Sardines, canned in oil, with bones, 3 ounces 325 33
Yogurt, fruit, low fat, 8 ounces 313–384 31–38
Cheddar cheese, 1.5 ounces 307 31
Milk, nonfat, 8 ounces** 299 30
Soymilk, calcium-fortified, 8 ounces 299 30
Milk, reduced-fat (2% milk fat), 8 ounces 293 29
Milk, buttermilk, low-fat, 8 ounces 284 28
Milk, whole (3.25% milk fat), 8 ounces 276 28
Orange juice, calcium-fortified, 6 ounces 261 26
Tofu, firm, made with calcium sulfate, ½ cup*** 253 25
Salmon, pink, canned, solids with bone, 3 ounces 181 18
Cottage cheese, 1% milk fat, 1 cup 138 14
Tofu, soft, made with calcium sulfate, ½ cup*** 138 14
Ready-to-eat cereal, calcium-fortified, 1 cup 100–1,000 10–100
Frozen yogurt, vanilla, soft serve, ½ cup 103 10
Turnip greens, fresh, boiled, ½ cup 99 10
Kale, raw, chopped, 1 cup 100 10
Kale, fresh, cooked, 1 cup 94 9
Ice cream, vanilla, ½ cup 84 8
Chinese cabbage, bok choi, raw, shredded, 1 cup 74 7
Bread, white, 1 slice 73 7
Pudding, chocolate, ready to eat, refrigerated, 4 ounces 55 6
Tortilla, corn, ready-to-bake/fry, one 6″ diameter 46 5
Tortilla, flour, ready-to-bake/fry, one 6″ diameter 32 3
Sour cream, reduced fat, cultured, 2 tablespoons 31 3
Bread, whole-wheat, 1 slice 30 3
Broccoli, raw, ½ cup 21 2
Cheese, cream, regular, 1 tablespoon 14 1

 

Food Milligrams (mg)

per serving

Percent DV*
Yogurt, plain, low fat, 8 ounces 415 42
Mozzarella, part skim, 1.5 ounces 333 33
Sardines, canned in oil, with bones, 3 ounces 325 33
Yogurt, fruit, low fat, 8 ounces 313–384 31–38
Cheddar cheese, 1.5 ounces 307 31
Milk, nonfat, 8 ounces** 299 30
Soymilk, calcium-fortified, 8 ounces 299 30
Milk, reduced-fat (2% milk fat), 8 ounces 293 29
Milk, buttermilk, lowfat, 8 ounces 284 28
Milk, whole (3.25% milk fat), 8 ounces 276 28
Orange juice, calcium-fortified, 6 ounces 261 26
Tofu, firm, made with calcium sulfate, ½ cup*** 253 25
Salmon, pink, canned, solids with bone, 3 ounces 181 18
Cottage cheese, 1% milk fat, 1 cup 138 14
Tofu, soft, made with calcium sulfate, ½ cup*** 138 14
Ready-to-eat cereal, calcium-fortified, 1 cup 100–1,000 10–100
Frozen yogurt, vanilla, soft serve, ½ cup 103 10
Turnip greens, fresh, boiled, ½ cup 99 10
Kale, raw, chopped, 1 cup 100 10
Kale, fresh, cooked, 1 cup 94 9
Ice cream, vanilla, ½ cup 84 8
Chinese cabbage, bok choi, raw, shredded, 1 cup 74 7
Bread, white, 1 slice 73 7
Pudding, chocolate, ready to eat, refrigerated, 4 ounces 55 6
Tortilla, corn, ready-to-bake/fry, one 6″ diameter 46 5
Tortilla, flour, ready-to-bake/fry, one 6″ diameter 32 3
Sour cream, reduced fat, cultured, 2 tablespoons 31 3
Bread, whole-wheat, 1 slice 30 3
Broccoli, raw, ½ cup 21 2
Cheese, cream, regular, 1 tablespoon 14 1

Source: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

Are there alternatives for those who are lactose intolerant, have gut issues, or can’t drink milk? If drinking calcium is your choice, here are other options:

Almond milk is plant based milk with a creamy texture and a nutty taste. It contains neither lactose or cholesterol and is often chosen by lactose intolerant or those who wish to avoid dairy.

Cashew milk is another nutty alternative made by blending water soaked cashews. It is high in antioxidants and fiber, but low in protein.

Coconut milk comes from the grated milk of the coconut. It is different from coconut water and often found on good and bad food lists. It is an alternative to dairy.

Hemp milk is made from water and cannabis seeds, yes, it comes from the marijuana plant. It is high in omega-3 fatty acids, higher than others in cost, and low on calcium in comparison.  

Raw milk is unpasteurized. Proponents claim it has healing benefits to asthma, allergies, and ear infections, but the medical community warns against it because the harmful bacteria has not been killed.

Rice milk is made from boiled rice, brown rice syrup, and brown rice starch. Manufacturers tend to add thickeners, sugars, and vanilla. It is another lactose intolerant option and tastes sweeter than cow’s milk.

Soy milk is made by soaking, grinding, and boiling soybeans in water. It is also credited with jump-starting estrogen production and gut issues. Soy as a food has other harmful factors.

What if we have it wrong, and milk isn’t as good for us as we think?

Six Reasons not to drink milk:

  • Bone health
  • Gut health
  • Antibiotics and hormones
  • Allergies
  • Skin conditions
  • Cancer

Bone Health

Wasn’t that on the other list? Yes! Studies show that milk acidifies in our bodies and the calcium in milk is used to neutralize acids to digest milk. The calcium our bodies use comes from the bones themselves, increasing the chance of osteoporosis.  

Gut health

Milk used to be full of good bacteria for the gut. Now it is pasteurized and the heat neutralizes the effect. The good bacteria are killed off and it becomes difficult to digest.

Antibiotics and hormones 

Whey and casein, the proteins in milk are second to none for promoting health, reducing inflammation, heart attack and body mass. And, these benefits are as good as their source.

When a cow gets sick it is treated with antibiotics. When we get sick we go to the doctor and get medicine. When a cow takes antibiotics or gets hormones, we get an extra dose in its milk.

Organic or Grass-fed

This milk comes from cows that do not take antibiotics or hormones in the way conventional cows do. It is some of the best on the market, and pricey too.

Allergies 

Milk allergies are high, and not always obvious. Careful attention to feeling poorly and consuming milk products may reveal an allergy. USA Today reports approximately 60% of adults cannot digest milk. About 75% of the population is lactose intolerant. Milk harms your digestive system and immune system over time as you continue to consume it.

Skin conditions 

Acne, psoriasis, dry flaky skin, or rashes could be caused by milk consumption. Studies show children who drink milk have more acne than those who didn’t. When sick cows are medicated and take hormones we receive them too.

Cancer

Hormones like insulin growth factor may increase the risk of certain cancers. As your body becomes more acidic, your immune system gets weakened, and the gut gets inflamed more often.

The more we age, the more we see the effects of consuming milk and dairy.

Humans are the only species who continue to drink milk after being weaned.

American food journalist Mark Bittman challenges the notion that milk should be the first food you turn to for good bone health. In a New York Times article, he says:

“The [US] federal government not only supports the milk industry by spending more money on dairy than any other item in the school lunch program but by contributing free propaganda as well as subsidies amounting to well over $4 billion in the last 10 years.”

Fractures are highest in milk-drinking countries; keys to bone strength are exercise and vitamin D, (you can get from the sun).

Is there any scientific evidence that milk is bad for us?

Science is divided.

You decide, and please comment below with your decision.

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