Got Milk?: You Really Shouldn't- New studies expand this no need list to any added calcium

Got Milk?:  You Really Shouldn't-
New studies expand this no need list to any added calcium

About a year ago, we shared this essay on how milk really offers no benefit to bones.

Now, in the fall of 2015, two new studies have been published that clearly demonstrate eating foods rich in calcium or taking calcium supplements have no real impact on bones and certainly offer no substantive help in preventing fractures.

Calcium Doesn’t Improve Bone Density, Analysis Finds http://nyti.ms/1RrfiqU

These are important findings, since nearly everyone was raised, and is continued to be told, that if you don't take calcium supplements of some sort, or fail to eat foods rich in calcium (like milk), you will miss the unique opportunities of childhood to build strong bones.  And what's the value if having strong bones?  Having fewer fractures.

Turns out your bones are as strong as they are going to be whether you eat calcium in food or take it in pills.  The body knows how to pull calcium out of a normal diet, one sufficient to support normal growth.  Adding more makes no difference.

So, the point made a year ago not only stands, but is made stronger.
Drinking milk, taking calcium supplements, and taking other measures to enrich the diet with calcium has no impact on the strength of your bones, and need not be done.

Here's the post from last year.   To your health, Dr. Lavin

Milk has had a good run.

During times of famine across the last 10,000 years, milk and milk products sustained human populations in Europe and parts of Africa.  This was milk's finest moment.

But as food supplies became more secure and reliable, milk faced a challenge, was it really still a good food to make part of our regular routines?

A new report in the NY Times makes clear the answer should be no:

In the mid-twentieth century, the US Department of Agriculture tried to answer the question:  What do people really need to eat, what are the best foods for us?  What they found was very simple- it's fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.   A sprinkling of some meat, fish, and chicken is good too.   But milk was not listed as an important food for people.  When it came time to educate the American public on these findings, an industry group stepped forward to print up a graphic display and distribute it to every school across the nation.  The USDA agreed, and the poster was circulated to every school for many decades.  The sponsor turned out to be the Dairy Council, and the poster had nothing to do with the USDA findings.  Instead the poster promoted the idea of four food groups, and one of them was milk!

Now come two very large studies, one published in JAMA Pediatrics and the other in the British Medical Journal, following a report from the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research that look at the experience of over 400,000 people and compares the outcome of those who drink milk to those who do not.

The NY Times report on these studies also looked at a number of studies examining the impact of taking supplemental calcium and of taking supplemental Vitamin D on bone health.

Here is what they found:
1.  Drinking milk has no impact on the chance of a hip fracture later in life.  In fact, in one of the studies, the women who drank milk during their life actually had a higher incidence of hip fracture.
2.  The mortality rate in the group that drinks milk is actually higher than in the group that does not.
3.  Taking supplemental calcium failed to protect against fractures with age, in fact it may lead to more hip fractures.
4.  Taking supplemental Vitamin D had no impact on the bone density of the spine, hip, forearm, or overall body, but may have increased the bone density of at the top of the thighbone (femur).  
5.  Milk promotes obesity as it is a major source of needless calorie.  Even skim milk delivers an extra 250 calories in every 3 cups, from the sugar in it.

The influence of industry promoting the use of milk is known to all.  The got milk campaign was lots of fun, seeing prominent celebrities sport a white milkstache.  But beyond that, as recently as 1983, the US Congress continued to pass laws to make milk promoted in the food marketplace.

These studies, taken together, debunk the notion that milk is good for you.  Like any beverage loaded with calories and offering no health benefit, it probably is fine to enjoy it from time to time.  But the time has come for all of us, especially parents of children, to stop using milk as a health promoting food.

Milk turns out to offer no important nutritional benefit, has no protective power on bones, and contributes to the obesity epidemic.

Also of note is the fact that although we have been promoting calcium and Vitamin D supplementation across the country for decades, when someone actually took a look at whether doing so actually helps strengthen bones, it turns out that it fails to do so.

So, take a look at this NY Times review:  http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/18/upshot/got-milk-might-not-be-doing-you-much-good.html?ref=health&_r=0

Bottom Line
1.  Milk is not a good food.  
2.  Regular milk contains needless fat, skim milk contains needless calories.
3.  The calcium and Vitamin D in milk have no impact on the actual experience of bone fractures later in life.
4.  Even supplemental calcium and Vitamin D don't help strengthen bones.
5.  Milk is OK to enjoy from time to time, like juice and soda, but should not be a regular part of anyone's diet, even toddlers and young children.
6.  Milk has been supported as a natural and important part of our diet by marketing efforts, supported by large budgets and even Congressional legislation.
7.  The best thing to drink is water and the best foods to eat are fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Be well.
Dr. Arthur Lavin

*Disclaimer* The comments contained in this electronic source of information do not constitute and are not designed to imply that they constitute any form of individual medical advice. The information provided is purely for informational purposes only and not relevant to any person's particular medical condition or situation. If you have any medical concerns about yourself or your family please contact your physician immediately. In order to provide our patients the best uninfluenced information that science has to offer,we do not accept samples of drugs, advertising tchotchkes, money, food, or any item from outside vendors.

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