- The importance of milk for children’s bone health has been recently questioned. A study reviewed 27 pieces of research on diet and bone health among children and adolescents, and found that only a third could find a significant link between calcium consumption and bone health.
- The study suggests that consuming high amounts of dairy is not vital for bone health. Alternatives like dark leafy greens, tofu, nuts and seeds, and calcium-enriched products like rice milk, soy milk, and orange juice, are proposed instead.
- According to the co-creator of the study, children’s bone health can be ensured through alternatives to dairy and physical activities like outdoor play and exercise, along with a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes.
- The dairy industry has criticized the findings, accusing the study authors of promoting vegetarianism and challenging traditional beliefs that advocate for daily three-serving dairy advice.
- While critics advocate for up to four servings of dairy for children daily, some supporters of the study suggest that vitamins play a more significant role in bone health than calcium.
Has there been a recent commotion about milk? There’s been quite a buzz after a top medical periodical published a piece claiming minimal evidence showcasing the need for a milk-rich regimen for children to support strong bones. Both the authors and the dairy industry have been locked in a tug-of-war, with the dairy sector attempting to discredit the research and accusing the authors of prejudice.
The Crucial Debate
At the heart of the debate is the dietary habits of millions of young Americans. Is it crucial for them to consume as many as three servings of dairy products daily, as currently recommended by the federal government? Or, could one to one-and-a-half glasses of cow’s milk suffice if substituted with tofu or fortified orange juice?
Challenging the Norm
Although this view questioning the importance of milk has not yet gained wide acceptance amongst nutrition experts, the recently published piece in a March edition of a leading pediatrics journal has given them a potent platform.
The authors have reviewed findings from 27 research pieces examining diet and bone health among children and adolescents. Interestingly, only a third of those studies could find a link between calcium consumption and bone health, and the outcome was marginal at best.
Dairy Alternative: The Novel Proposal
Amy Lanou, the co-creator of the study and nutrition director for a medical committee that promotes responsible care, advocates a far-out alternative to dairy – dark leafy greens, tofu, nuts and seeds, and calcium-enriched products such as rice milk, soy milk and orange juice.
Essentially, increasing the intake of calcium from dairy products is not vital, according to Lanou. She further comforts parents with kids who are lactose intolerant or allergic to milk. Parents need not panic, she assures. They can instead investigate other options to ensure their children develop strong bones. “The best option is to get your kids outside playing, getting some exercise and some sunshine, and make sure they have an overall healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes,” she suggests.
Conflicts of Interests?
No surprise, the dairy industry wasn’t pleased. They accuse the authors of promoting vegetarianism and challenging traditional beliefs backing the daily three-serving dairy advice.
However, Lanou also found supporters who believe the role of calcium in fostering strong bones has been overestimated. Instead, certain vitamins can play a more significant role in bone health.
The Dairy Industry’s Response
Critics advocate for three to four servings of dairy for children and teenagers daily, equating lack of calcium similar to attempting to construct a brick house without bricks.
For more valuable information on the subject, check out National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases for kids’ bone health.