Is Dairy Really Good For You?

According to the USDA food pyramid, it is important to get three servings of dairy each day; however, more recent studies show that this may not be in the best interest of overall health and wellness. According to Doctor Mark Hyman, “Some of the ‘experts’ who helped create the pyramid actually work for the dairy industry, which makes the US Department of agriculture’s recommendations reflect industry interests, not science or our best interests.”


This fact may alarm some people—especially those who try to be conscious of their health and nutrition. For years, people have followed the guidelines that were set forth by the USDA, all the while believing that these guidelines were designed for their health. The truth is that there is much speculation regarding the true amounts of milk and dairy that is needed by the body. Also in question is whether dairy is actually good for the body. Take a closer look to learn more.

The Shocking Truth

There are six truths about dairy that may be quite alarming to some people. These are based on the findings of Dr. Willett, from the Harvard School of Health.

  • Milk actually does not reduce the number of bone fractures, and can in fact increase your risk.
  • Studies show that the less dairy consumed can actually result in better bones.
  • Calcium has proven to not be as protective as it was once thought to be for the bones.
  • Calcium has also been shown to increase the risk of cancer.
  • Dairy products simply don’t have as much calcium as people think.
  • Some people are unable to process and digest dairy products.


Dairy can also lead to a variety of other health issues, including allergies, sinus irritation, ear infection, diabetes, constipation, and anemia. Another thing to consider is the effects of both pasteurization and homogenization.


The Effects of Pasteurization


Pasteurization is a technique that is used to help sterilize raw foods. High levels of heat are used to help destroy the bacteria within the milk to help make it more sterile. It not only helps to make it more sterile, but it also helps to give it a longer shelf life.


The process of pasteurization actually destroys some of the important vitamins and minerals that are included in raw milk. These essential vitamins and minerals that are lost can help to reduce allergies, cancer, and even lactose intolerance.


The Effects of Homogenization


Homogenization of milk is very common. It helps to increase the physical stability, and also reduces the fat droplet size. This keeps the milk from separating and rising. It was once thought that homogenized milk is better digestible than milk that has been untreated, but is that really the case?


Researchers have determined that the fat globules increase the ability of homogenized milk to result in allergic reactions. This is just one of the concerns that come along with the homogenization of milk. Due to the high heat required for homogenization, it can also result in altered color and flavor. It can also alter the nutritional value of the milk.


The Importance of Calcium and Vitamin D


Calcium and Vitamin D are very important for the human body. According to the National Institute of Health, “Calcium is needed for our heart, muscles, and nerves to function properly and for blood to clot. Inadequate calcium significantly contributes to the development of osteoporosis.”


If you want to know how much calcium should be included in your daily dietary intake, it will depend greatly on your age. The National Institute of Health recommends the following amounts:


  • Infants 0 to 6 months – 200 mg/day
  • Infants 6 to 12 months – 260 mg/day
  • 1 to 3 years old – 700 mg/day
  • 4 to 8 years old – 1000 mg/day
  • 9 to 18 years old – 1300 mg/day
  • 19 to 50 years old – 1000 mg/day
  • 51 to 70 year old males – 1000 mg/day
  • 51 to 70 year old females – 1200 mg/day
  • 70 years old+ – 1200 mg/day


In order to actually absorb the calcium taken in by the body, vitamin D is required. If you don’t have enough of this vitamin in your body, then you won’t get the calcium absorption that is necessary for overall health. There are simply not very many foods that contain vitamin D naturally.


The National Institute of Health recommends the following amounts of Vitamin D:


  • 0 to 12 months – 400 IU
  • 1 to 70 years – 600 IU
  • 70 years old+ – 800 IU

These are minimum recommendations and not therapeutic recommendations. Vitamin D is one of the most common deficiencies seen in our patients. Most patients need therapeutic doses to optimize their levels.


It is clear that food sources themselves do not always offer the amount of calcium and vitamin D that the body needs in a day. It is often necessary to take calcium and vitamin D supplements in order to get the recommended daily amount each day.


How Much Calcium and Vitamin D is Really Found in Milk?


Everyone has heard that milk does the body good, and that it is calcium rich. Is this really true? When you take a look at the actual amounts of calcium found in a single cup of whole milk, 246 mg, this might not mean too much to you. However, if you compare this amount with other foods, you might be surprised to find out that milk and dairy products are not the best source of calcium. For example 8 medium sardines contain about 370 mg of calcium.


Now, take a look at the amounts of vitamin D in milk. In one cup of whole milk, there are approximately 124 IUs per serving. Now, compare it to other foods, such as one tablespoon of cod liver oil, which has 1360 IUs per serving. With that in mind, it would seem that there are much better alternatives for getting vitamin D than by drinking milk or eating other dairy foods.



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