Some of us include milk in their diet, for strong bones etc, but few of us meet the daily recommended quantities. Experts suggest that we rethink these recommendations and explain why milk may not be as healthy as we think.
Strength of evidence is ‘limited’
In 2014, Connie M Weaver, emeritus professor and formerly the Head of the Department of Nutrition Science at Purdue University in West Lafayette, wrote an article in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition highlighting the lack of nutritional value in support of dairy guidelines.
Weaver references research that revealed how following a dairy-free diet in the context of a U.S.-style Western diet left adolescents aged 9 –18 years struggling to achieve the recommended intake of calcium.
For daily nutrient intake, milk and cheese contribute “46.3% of calcium, 11.6% of potassium, and 7.9% of magnesium in the American diet.”
Human health and the environment
Dr. Walter C. Willett and Dr. David S. Ludwig, who’s higly regarded at Harvard T.H. Chain School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA, discuss the merits of milk.
“This is an important topic because milk is one of few foods that are specifically part of dietary guidelines in the U.S. and many other countries, and the recommended amount in the U.S. (3 glasses per day or equivalent amounts of cheese or other dairy products) would make up a large part of an overall diet,” he explained.
“However, studies over the last several decades have not clearly supported the need for such high intakes for prevention of fractures, which has been the main justification, and some concerns about harm have been raised,” he continued. “We thus thought an overview of evidence on risks and benefits would be useful.”
He further elaborates “Also, milk has a heavy environmental footprint, especially greenhouse gas production, and if everyone consumed 3 glasses per day, this would make avoiding extreme globally warming very difficult,”
“This should be at least be considered when making decisions about production and consumption of milk.”
Milk studies have ‘serious limitations’
Milk is an excellent source of calcium, a prime mineral to developing and maintaining good bone function.
Based on studies, the daily recommendations for how much milk we should consume is very small.
Weight, heart health, and cancer
Several studies have revealed that milk consumption is beneficial for weight management in adults and children.
Evidence does show that milk has positive effect on blood pressure, however more research is needed to verify this.
Some studies linked milk consumption to a lower risk of developing colorectal cancer, possible high levels of calcium found in milk.
In conclusion, milk is good for health, but the amount consumed and the other benefits should be bared in mind.