Milk Harmful Or Beneficial To Human Health

Milk Harmful Or Beneficial To Human

Milk has been an integral part of our diet. Most of us have been drinking milk for years routinely. We have been told that milk is necessary for our growth and make our bones stronger. Cow’s milk is nutritious – it contains calcium, vitamins A and D and riboflavin, as well as protein and isn’t heavy on calories. Researches show that cow’s milk can be harmful or ‘not so beneficial’ for human if not consumed in proper quantities. Cow’s milk naturally contains large amount of hormones and protein needed to turn an 80-pound calf into a 1,000 pound cow in one year. Our bodies are different and so are our needs.

Milk Harmful Or Beneficial To Human Health

Milk Consumption In Human

Humans are probably the only known species that drink the breast milk of another animal, and the only known species that continues to drink breast milk into adulthood. Cows, like humans, when get pregnant, the estrogen levels in their blood, milk, and urine increase. This gives rise to the thought that since the cows are pregnant almost all the time, the hormone levels in their milk should be really high.

A study done in 2014, suggested that women who drink a lot of milk may actually have a higher fracture risk compared to those who drink less. To reach their findings, researchers looked at data from more than 61,000 women (and about 45,300 men) who had filled out a series of food frequency questionnaires over two decades. In the end, drinking three or more glasses of milk per day was associated with a higher incidence of hip fracture for women (but not men) and an increased risk of death from any cause (for both men and women), compared to those who had less than one glass per day.

Like all animal proteins, milk acidifies the body pH which in turn triggers a biological response. Now since calcium is an excellent acid neutralizer and the biggest storage of calcium in the body is in the bones, the very same calcium that our bones need to stay strong is utilized to neutralize the acidifying effect of milk. Once calcium is pulled out of the bones, it leaves the body via the urine, so our body actually becomes calcium deficit.

Many scientific studies contradict the theory that milk and dairy consumption help reduce osteoporotic fractures. Surprisingly, there are more studies that say that milk is indeed a big cause of osteoporosis. Even drinking milk from a young age does not protect against future fracture risk but actually increases it. Cumming and Klineberg report in their study shattering the “savings account” calcium theory that:

Consumption of dairy products, particularly at age 20 years, was associated with an increased risk of hip fracture in old age.

The 12 year long Harvard Nurses’ Health Study found that those who consumed the most calcium from dairy foods broke more bones than those who rarely drank milk. This is a broad study based on 77,761 women aged 34 through 59 years of age.

Do We Actually Need Milk?

Clearly, cow’s milk contains large amount of hormones and protein needed to turn an 80-pound calf into a 1,000 pound cow in a year. That amount of protein and hormones is not only unnecessary but also unhealthy for humans.

The Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School are downright critical of the USDA’s recommendation of dairy products at every meal. Harvard states, “there is little evidence that high dairy intake protects against osteoporosis but substantial evidence that high intake can be harmful.”

What About Calcium?

While cow’s milk is high in calcium, it is also high in protein. Excess protein in our diets causes calcium to leach out of our bones. Dr. Kerrie Saunders states, “North America has one of the highest consumptions of dairy products, and also the highest incidence of osteoporosis.“ To combat osteoporosis, Saunders recommends exercise and “beans and greens” for a source of calcium that is not excessively high in protein. It is also better getting calcium from green leafy vegetables.

Furthermore, calcium intake may be less important for bone health than we’ve been led to believe.

A study by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health published in 1997 found that increased consumption of milk and other calcium-rich foods by adult women did not reduce the risk of osteoporotic bone fractures. Calcium retention is also important for preventing osteoporosis. Sodium, smoking, caffeine and physical inactivity can all cause us to lose calcium.

While animal rights advocates are vegan for ethical reasons, it’s important to know that cow’s milk is not necessary for human health and foregoing dairy may have health benefits.

So How Much Milk Should We Consume?

How Much Milk Should We Consume

The dietary guidelines 2015-2020 give an idea about the role of milk in the dietary system. It states that healthy eating patterns include fat-free and low-fat (1%) dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese, or fortified soy beverages (commonly known as “soymilk”). Soy beverages fortified with calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin D, are included as part of the dairy group because they are similar to milk based on nutrient composition and in their use in meals. Other products sold as “milks” but made from plants (e.g., almond, rice, coconut, and hemp “milks”) may contain calcium and be consumed as a source of calcium, but they are not included as part of the dairy group because their overall nutritional content is not similar to dairy milk and fortified soy beverages (soymilk). The recommended amounts of dairy in the Healthy U.S.-Style Pattern are based on age rather than calorie level and are 2 cup-equivalents per day for children ages 2 to 3 years, 2½ cup-equivalents per day for children ages 4 to 8 years, and 3 cup-equivalents per day for adolescents ages 9 to 18 years and for adults.

Which Milk To Choose Whole Or Low-Fat?

It’s usually recommended that kids 1 to 2 years old drink whole milk; although, the American Academy of Pediatrics [AAP] says that kids at risk of becoming overweight can be switched to lower-fat milk before turning 2. Then, if their growth is steady, it’s safe to switch to low-fat or skim milk. Whole milk is a good option for toddlers over age 12 months who aren’t breastfeeding and who aren’t drinking a toddler formula. According to the AAP, in their Guide To Your Child’s Nutrition, these ‘young children need calories from fat for growth and brain development,’ and ‘this is especially important in the first 2 years of life.’

Best Milk for Kids

So which milk should you give to your children? According to the AAP recommendations, if your toddler isn’t going to continue breastfeeding, you should switch her to whole milk once she is 12 months old. Next, switch to skim or low-fat milk at age 2 years. You can make the switch earlier, at 12 months, if your child is already overweight. Making the switch at an early age is much easier than doing it when your child is older when they are more likely to notice and be resistant to switching to low-fat milk.

Remember that soy milk, almond milk, and rice milk, etc., are typically low fat, so would also be a good choice once your child is 2 years old, especially if he is allergic to cow’s milk or has lactose intolerance.


It can be concluded that milk is a very important part of our diet. It is extremely healthy if taken in above-mentioned quantities, since it has a very good combination of calcium, vitamin D, and protein. However, for people with lactose intolerance, there are other products available in the market. It is advisable to ask a doctor/dietitian before deciding which supplement is best for you.

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:June 12, 2019

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