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Is Milk Really the Best for Your Bones?

We can all recite the touted benefits of milk: strong, healthy bones! But does “Got Milk?” really translate to “Got Strong Bones?” Dr. Nathan Phelps from Ogden Clinic thinks there’s a better source. Dr. Phelps shares new information from a recent study published on milk consumption.

The Conversation

A 2015 study published in the BMJ (formerly known as the British Medical Journal) followed over 60,000 women ages 39-74 and 45,000 men ages 45-79. During this time, participants drank a consistent amount of milk each day. Men were followed for 13 years and women were followed for 22 years.

The findings were interesting: women who drank over three glasses of milk per day nearly doubled their risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and increased their chance of developing cancer by 44% compared to women who drank less than a glass of milk per day. Surprisingly, an increased risk of bone fractures also occurred in participants drinking over three glasses of milk.

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Further prospective studies are needed to conclude if a cause-and-effect relationship exists between these factors.

A Better Source of Calcium

The recommended daily amount of calcium for adults is 1,000mg per day. Cow’s milk is a good source of calcium (with about 300mg/cup) but drinking too much has been linked to cardiovascular disease and an increased risk of developing prostate and ovarian cancers.

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Dr. Phelps suggests a surprising alternative: leafy vegetables. He says “one 4-ounce serving of steamed collard has approximately the same amount of calcium as a cup of milk. Better yet, the calcium from kale and collards is more easily absorbed and a higher percentage of that calcium stays in the body when coming from a plant compared to an animal protein.”

Whether you’re eating foods high in calcium or supplementing calcium, Dr. Phelps recommends taking a Vitamin D supplement at the same time to maximize absorption.  Many calcium supplements also contain Vitamin D for this reason. “For overall bone health, it’s also important to do weight bearing exercises on a regular basis,” he adds.


Dr. Nathan Phelps practices at Ogden Clinic’s Professional Center North location. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Phelps, please click here or call 801.475.3000.

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