Osteoporosis Rates And Dairy Consumption

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Are Osteoporosis Rates and Dairy Consumption Related? More than 80 million adults in the United States are affected by osteoporosis. As a B2B marketer, you know that it’s critical to provide your customers with any information they need to craft an effective marketing strategy. The infographic below will help you discuss osteoporosis rates and dairy consumption in your next marketing meeting. A new study has suggested that the United States should rethink their dairy consumption due to the increasing severity of osteoporosis. A team of researchers from Dublin, Ireland and Munich, Germany have found that countries with the highest rates of osteoporosis tend to have more dairy products in their diets. The research was conducted between 2007 and 2010 and recently released regarding the correlation between osteoporosis and countries most affected by it.

Osteoporosis Rates And Dairy Consumption

Milk is not the magic bullet in the fight against osteoporosis. In fact many people are surprised to learn that the research around milk and osteoporosis is controversial and far from conclusive when it comes to milk and decreased risk of osteoporotic fractures.

Table of Contents [hide]

  • 1 Milk and Dairy: Good or Bad for Human Health?
  • 2 More Milk. Greater Fracture Risk?
  • 3 Milk and Osteoporosis: Recommendations
  • 4 Osteoporosis Guidelines

Milk And Dairy: Good Or Bad For Human Health?

milk and osteoporosis | does milk prevent osteoporosis?

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A recent review in the journal Food and Nutrition Research titled, “Milk and dairy products: good or bad for human health? An assessment of the totality of scientific evidence”, concludes that to date “meta-analyses have not supported a protective effect of milk and dairy intake in adulthood on risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures”.

They further state, “The present evidence suggests a positive effect of milk and dairy intake on bone health in childhood and adolescence, but with only limited evidence on bone health in adulthood and on the risk of bone fractures in older age”.

They conclude, “The totality of available scientific evidence supports that intake of milk and dairy products contribute to meet nutrient recommendations, and may protect against the most prevalent chronic diseases, whereas very few adverse effects have been reported”. Most of the studies’ authors declared they have received funding from dairy organizations.

More Milk. Greater Fracture Risk?

An interesting 2014 Swedish study published in the British Medical Journal found that women who drank more milk were at greater risk of fractures. Significant increases in fracture risk occurred in women with milk intakes as low as one to two servings per day.

This was a large study of over 61,000 women 39 to 74 years and of over 45,000 men ages 45 to 79. Women who consumed 3 or more 8-ounce milk servings per day were close to twice as likely to die as those consuming less than 1 serving milk per day. The participants that drank the most milk were 16% more likely to suffer from all types of fractures and 60% more likely to have a hip fracture.

The researchers postulated that D-galactose, which is part of the lactose in milk, might be the problem. D-galactose is much lower in fermented dairy products. The study also found that higher consumption of fermented milk products was associated with less risk of fracture and mortality.

This is an observational study, which means it does not prove a causative effect.  More research on milk and osteoporosis is needed before definite conclusions can be made. This is not the first study or expert to question the benefits of drinking milk and to find no association between drinking milk and less fractures.

The researchers did not suggest that the study on milk and osteoporosis conclusively proved you should avoid milk but did state, “Our results may question the validity of recommendations to consume high amounts of milk to prevent fragility fractures”.

Milk And Osteoporosis: Recommendations

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Milk products are excellent sources of calcium and healthy bones require calcium. Consuming milk is a personal decision. If you enjoy and tolerate milk, and choose to drink it, then drink it in moderation and keep in mind there is a lot more to healthy bones than drinking milk. I’d also encourage you to consider substituting more fermented dairy for regular milk and to be sure to eat lots of fruits and vegetables and adequate protein.

My personal practice and recommendation at this time is to get a significant amount of your calcium from plant foods and fermented dairy like yogurt and kefir. Limit milk to moderate amounts and do not feel guilty about not drinking milk, as long as you get your calcium from other sources. While I personally don’t drink a lot of regular milk, I do occasionally enjoy a good latte or mug of hot chocolate made with milk, low fat or fat free, since I’m always watching my calories.

Which Milk Is Best For Bones?

Grocery store aisles are stocked with multiple different types of milk — from low-fat and skim milk to plant-based alternatives like almond and soy milk. While most types of milk have some calcium in them, their particular nutrition profiles can be very different.
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Grocery store aisles are stocked with multiple different types of milk — from low-fat and skim milk to plant-based alternatives like almond and soy milk. While most types of milk have some calcium in them, their particular nutrition profiles can be very different.

There’s no doubt milk is an essential component of a healthy diet. It is an excellent source of proteins, vitamins, minerals, and most importantly, calcium. Calcium supports bone health and structure and keeps your bones rigid, strong, and resilient. It helps bones grow in childhood, maintains flexibility in adulthood, and lowers the risk of osteoporosis in older adults. Calcium is also the most abundant mineral in our body and over 98% of it is stored in the bones. The National Institute of Health recommends a daily dietary allowance of 1000 mg for adults under 50, and 1200 mg for older adults.

Today, grocery store aisles are stocked with multiple different types of milk — from low-fat and skim milk to plant-based alternatives like almond and soy milk. While most types of milk have some calcium in them, their particular nutrition profiles can be very different.

Nutrients In Milk

Cow milk is composed of a good balance of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. It is also a great source of many essential nutrients like:

  • Calcium
  • Vitamins A and D
  • Phosphorus
  • Riboflavin
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Niacin
  • Zinc

These minerals and high-quality mixed proteins boost bone formation and improve the body’s enzyme functions. To get a quick overview of the major nutrients in your milk, check the “Nutrition Facts” product labels on milk cartons.

Types Of Milk

Different types of milk contain different nutrients. They may also undergo different processing methods during manufacturing. Some sellers add additional vitamins and minerals to the milk.

Whole Milk

Whole milk from cows was the gold standard for healthy and nutritious milk for decades. It is composed of about 88% water, 5% carbohydrates, 3% protein, 3% fat, and a considerable amount of minerals like potassium and phosphorus. An 8-ounce cup of whole milk has 276 mg of calcium, or 27% of your daily value. Whole-fat or full-fat milk also has significant saturated fats. The specific composition of whole milk depends on the breed of cow (Holstein or Jersey), its diet, and lactation stage.

Low-Fat Milk

Low-fat milk contains 1% fat as opposed to the 3.25% fat of whole milk. As fat has more calories by weight than any other nutrient, many dietitians and nutritionists recommend low-fat or skim milk options. Low-fat milk has a higher calcium content by weight than whole milk. An 8-ounce cup meets 29% of your daily value of calcium.

Skim Or Fat-Free Milk

Skim or no-fat milk has all of the milk fat removed from it. As a result, it has fewer calories and a higher percentage of calcium by weight. An 8-ounce cup of skim milk contains 325 mg of calcium, which is nearly a third of the daily adult calcium requirement. Skim milk also has higher amounts of vitamins than whole milk because of fortification.

Almond Milk

Almond milk is a plant-based milk made by grinding almonds into an emulsion. When unsweetened it has much lower calories and sugar compared to whole milk. Almond milk is also lactose-free and full of nutrients like iron, phosphorus, zinc, potassium, and magnesium. It is naturally high in calcium and is fortified with it as well. This makes almond milk a much better source of calcium than cow’s milk.

Soy Milk

Soy milk is made by suspending fine particles of soy flour in water. It is a good source of protein, Vitamin A, and potassium and contains very little saturated fat. Soy milk is not naturally high in calcium but can be fortified to improve nutrition value. However, soy milk is not suitable for people who are allergic to soy in any form.

Rice Milk

Rice milk is made from milled rice (white or brown) and is the milk least likely to cause allergies. It is an excellent option for people who are sensitive to dairy, soy, or nuts. Rice milk needs to be fortified in order to be a good source of calcium and vitamins. It is low in protein but high in sugar, carbohydrates, and calories.

Hemp Milk

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Hemp milk is the newest addition to plant-based milk products in the US. It is made from the seeds of the hemp plant, which is related to the cannabis plant. Hemp milk only contains trace amounts of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and will not cause a “high.” Hemp milk is by far the best alternative milk source of calcium. One 8-ounce serving contains 450 mg of calcium, which is 45% of the recommended daily allowance.

Pea milk, oat milk, cashew milk, and coconut milk are a few of the other varieties of milk available in the market today. They have different nutritional compositions and are usually fortified with several micronutrients.

Which Milk Is Healthiest?

To add calcium to your diet, consider non-dairy sources like okra, collard greens, turnips, sardines, and dark leafy greens such as kale. Regular exercise, especially weight-bearing exercises like jogging or walking, is also crucial for maintaining strong bones.

Does Drinking Milk Prevent Osteoporosis? Then What Are The Best Ways To Prevent Osteoporosis?

Make no bones about it — milk is an excellent source of calcium! There may be some downsides to guzzling milk, such as lactose intolerance or a hefty grocery bill, but there seems to be a few schools of thought when it comes to its impact on calcium loss (more on that in a bit). To build strong bones and ward off osteoporosis, milk (and calcium supplements to some extent) can do the body good, when consumed in moderation. If you feel like your milk-drinking habit is, ahem, milking you for all your worth, it may be time to try other tasty and inexpensive foods that are high in calcium. While it it’s great that you’re paying attention to your calcium intake, it’s also good to focus on maximizing its absorption and engaging in a few healthy lifestyle behaviors so all this effort doesn’t go to waste (literally)!

According to the Institute of Medicine, the amount of calcium your body needs varies by age. Children, ages one to three, need about 700 milligrams (mg) of calcium, while adolescents, adults, and pregnant women require 1,000 to 1,300 mg per day. One cup of skim milk packs about 300 mg of calcium, so it’s true that you would need to drink three to four cups a day to reach your recommended daily allowance (RDA) for calcium. However, some health experts warn it isn’t necessary, or even healthy, to load up on dairy. Moreover, some researchers have found a correlation between high levels of vitamin A (milk is fortified with vitamins A and D) and fractures among older adults. With that in mind, you might consider limiting your dairy intake to one or two low-fat or fat-free servings a day, and trading out the others for calcium-rich foods such as:

  • Beans including the white, kidney, and pinto variety
  • Tofu
  • Veggies such as broccoli, spinach, and Chinese cabbage
  • Fruits including figs and oranges

List adapted from the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University.

As you explore additional ways to get the calcium you need, here are some tips to maximize calcium absorption and pave the way for healthy bones:

  • Seek out vitamin D. Spend 15 to 30 minutes in the sun each day (sunlight fuels vitamin D production), eat foods containing vitamin D (try fortified breakfast cereals, tuna fish, or salmon), or take a supplement.
  • Get enough vitamin K. Try munching green leafy veggies like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and kale.
  • Pair calcium-rich foods with acidic ones. Try adding orange segments to your spinach salad or squirting lemon juice on steamed broccoli to facilitate calcium absorption.
  • Avoid going overboard with substances that limit the availability of calcium. These include dietary fiber, magnesium, tannins in tea, or high protein diets.
  • Cut back on substances that can rob the body of calcium. Such substances include salt, caffeine, cola, nicotine, and antacids containing aluminum.

Once calcium is absorbed into the body, more than 99 percent of it is used for building bones and teeth. Due to daily strain on the skeletal system, our bones are constantly broken down and reconstructed. After age 35, this rebuilding process naturally slows. In some cases, bone tissue deteriorates dramatically, leading to osteoporosis (literally meaning “little bone”), a disease characterized by bones that become more and more fragile. Even under slight pressure, bones can break and crush, causing broken wrists or hip fractures. Women, particularly Asian and white women, are at a higher risk than men partly because the decrease in estrogen in their bodies after menopause increases bone loss. Men and black women tend to have a greater amount of initial bone mass and are less likely to have problems with osteoporosis.

That being said, osteoporosis doesn’t happen overnight. It begins with osteopenia, a demineralization of bone, and progressively gets worse. But with proper care, prevention is possible. Many factors influence the rate at which bone density decreases, including heredity, hormones, diet, physical activity, tobacco use, and certain medical conditions. You can’t change your genes, but you can strengthen your bones by getting plenty of calcium as part of balanced diet, engaging in regular physical activity, and not smoking. Speaking with a health care provider can also help you assess your individual risk for osteoporosis and discuss ways to reduce your risk. To learn more about osteoporosis, check out the International Osteoporosis Foundation, You might also think about meeting with a registered dietitian or a health promotion professional to help you find ways to incorporate more foods into your diet that are high in calcium.

As you can see, there’s more to building and maintaining strong bones than just drinking milk.

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