We’re back with the second installment of our series on bone health. Today’s post will be about dairy and the effect of overconsumption of milk products on your bones. Then we’ll begin talking about naturopathic options to bone health maintenance, the first on the list being non-dairy sources of calcium. As always, please feel free to shoot us an email or leave a comment with any questions you may have!
Dairy and Bone Health
The Harvard Nurses’ Health Study of 80,000 women showed that the women who consumed the most calcium from dairy products had almost double the rate of hip fractures as compared to women who consumed the least dairy. The United States is a world leader in dairy consumption and has one of the highest rates of osteoporosis.
The medical journal Pediatrics (2005; 115(3):736-743) concluded that “scant evidence supports nutrition guidelines focused specifically on increasing milk and other dairy product intake for promoting child and adolescent bone mineralization”. Diets high in dairy products disrupt the calcium / phosphorus balance – evidence indicates that this accelerates the loss of calcium from bones.
Are there any problems or risks in consuming dairy?
The answer depends on the individual – rather than the blanket assertions made by the milk marketing boards or the government food guides. Consider the following:
- Dairy Allergies: Recent medical studies have shown that dairy allergies are increasing in North America – and people are no longer ‘out growing’ these allergies.
- High Saturated Fat Content: Dairy is high in saturated fat – a contributing cause of heart disease. Leafy green vegetables have no saturated fat……
- Crohn’s Disease Linked to Dairy: The CBC reported in July, 2008 that 90% of Crohn’s patients are positive for a bacteria found in dairy that causes an intestinal disease in cows called Johne’s Disease. It is believed these same bacteria can induce Crohn’s Disease in human.
- Possible Increased Risk of Ovarian Cancer: A study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. (2006;15:364-72) examined 12 medical studies (with 500,000 women) on the role milk consumption plays on ovarian cancer. They found that those women who consumed the most milk had the highest rates of ovarian cancer.
Alternative Options to Bone Health Maintenance
- Non-Dairy Sources of Calcium
Leafy green vegetables and legumes are a richer source of calcium and the varied minerals used in bone developments than are dairy products. More over, your body has the enzyme capacity to digest and absorb the calcium and minerals found in leafy greens. Current Rheumatology Reports acknowledged that “diets high in fruits and vegetables contribute nutrients such as magnesium associated with bone health and may also produce an alkaline environment, reducing calcium excretion and thus improving bone density” (2007; 9(1):85-92). The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition stated “our findings associating bone resorption with dietary factors provide further evidence of a positive link between fruit and vegetable consumption and bone health” (2000 Jan;71(1): 142-51).