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Myth or Fact: Milk is Good for Your Bones

Posted Date: 4/5/2014
Milk mustache ads have long promoted the idea that drinking milk is important for children to grow strong bones. However, there are other ways for our bodies to get calcium and we may not need as much as we've been lead to believe. "The body derives calcium from two main sources,” says Dr. Jack Choueka, Chair of the Maimonides Bone & Joint Center. “The first is our dietary intake. When that is inadequate, we pull it from the second source, our bones. Our peak bone mass is reached by the age of 30, after which the density of our bones begins to diminish, so getting proper amounts of calcium and vitamin D is important in adolescence and early adulthood."
Dr. Choueka recommends that people under 50 get at least 1000mg of calcium per day, while older adults try for at least 1200mg. Although milk – one cup of which has about 300mg of calcium – is a good source, it's certainly not the only source. "Similar levels of calcium can be found in calcium-fortified orange juice, leafy green vegetables and certain fish," Dr. Choueka explains. Calcium supplements are also available for people who don’t get enough from their diet.
According to Dr. Choueka, the notion of higher calcium intake reducing the risk of broken bones is theoretical, at best. Studies have shown no reduction in fracture risk with higher than recommended consumption of calcium.  In fact, there are risks associated with excess intake, including the development of gallstones and kidney stones, and an increased risk of heart disease. "Milk, as well as other dairy products, is high in saturated fats which carries the risk of heart disease. High lactose intake has also been implicated in some increased risk for ovarian cancer in women and prostate cancer in men," Dr. Choueka adds.
Verdict: True, with a caveat – Milk is good for you, but it depends on how much of it you're drinking. "The exact amounts are still a bit controversial, but we do know that too little calcium and too much calcium are both not good," says Dr. Choueka.

Dr. Jack Choueka
Chair, Maimonides Bone & Joint Center

Dr. Jack Choueka has published numerous articles on a variety of topics, including rotator cuff repair, flexor tendon repair, and new devices and techniques in orthopedic surgery. Dr. Choueka’s philosophy is to utilize all methods possible to avoid surgery for his patients. If surgery is necessary, microscopic procedures can be performed which allow patients to return to function more quickly.

To make an appointment, call: (718) 283-7362
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