Does Dairy Contribute to Osteoporosis?

dairy-osteoporosis-mythDairy has long been considered good for bones. However, the reality is more complicated because in recent years some researchers found that countries that consume the most milk have the most patients with osteoporosis. However, connection like this is scorned and dismissed as a myth by many health experts. So, does milk cause osteoporosis?

While calcium is the main mineral of bone, milk is the best source of calcium since milk contains not only large amount of this mineral, but also lactic acid that can promote the absorption. Similarly, cheese, yogurt and other dairy products are high in calcium too. Contrary to all logic, dairy is bad for osteoporosis because it contains a lot of protein. This is because the digestion of protein will increase blood acidity, which should be neutralized by pulling calcium from the blood when diet fails to provide enough of it.

Dairy makes no sense to human being at all from an evolutionary perspective. In fact, no animals but humans continue to consume milk after weaning. Apparently, this is a relatively new thing in the history of human evolution. That’s to say, human ancestors did not rely on the consumption of milk or other dairy products to keep their bones healthy. Of course, the aim here is not to deny milk’s health benefits of increasing bone strength.

Osteoporosis is essentially a progressive disease that causes continuous bone deterioration and loss of quality and minerals. This disease can be caused by many factors, among which some, such as exercise and hormones, are completely unrelated to nutrition. Osteoporosis is more common in women, especially those after menopause. This disease can reduce the quality of life since it significantly increases the risk of fractures.

Bone supports the body and stores calcium. This is why the body needs to remain blood calcium levels within a certain range. Once the body fails to get calcium from the diet, the one contained in bones will be utilized in order to maintain the important functions of life. In addition, not all calcium will be absorbed since some of them will be excreted in the urine. So, if the diet does not compensate for the loss, after a period of time bone will lose calcium and become easily broken due to the reduced bone density.

As mentioned above, some experts believe that calcium-rich dairy products can lead to osteoporosis because they contain a lot of protein and protein metabolism produces a large number of acidic substances. It is worth mentioning that healthy body is a weak alkaline environment, ranging from pH of 7.35 to 7.45. However, very often human body fluids will become acidic because of the impact of diet, lifestyle, surroundings, emotions, and so on. One of typical example is the intake of a lot of protein and sugar. In this case, instinctively the body will achieve acid-base balance again by using the alkaline substances inside to neutralize acidic substances. It is widely known that calcium contained in bones is the main source of base inside the body. So, eating a lot of acidic foods will make the body naturally consume calcium in bones to neutralize the acidity of the blood.

However, so far there is not much scientific evidence to support this theory. And some studies have found that eating more protein can promote bone health instead. The nutritional content of various milk and dairy products is close. So, drinking the right amount of them makes a lot of sense in promoting the body’s bone health since they contain various nutrients, such as calcium, protein, vitamin D and so on. Calcium is the material basis for bone health, and the calcium content in per 100 ml of milk or yogurt is about 110 milligrams. In addition, the deposition of calcium in bones depends on the appropriate protein intake. That is where dairy comes in since it is high in quality protein, which not only can provide a variety of essential amino acids the human body needs to maintain health, but also offer a reasonable proportion between a variety of essential amino acids to facilitate the absorption and utilization.

Some studies have found that the increased consumption of dairy products might cause negative or harmful effects to bone health. These findings are often quoted by vegetarians and those who oppose milk consumption. To be honest, they just look at only one side of the coin and selectively ignore other studies about the health benefits of milk consumption. That’s to say, the results of most studies on the relationship between osteoporosis rates and dairy consumption that seem plausible don’t really mean anything.

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