Twice in the past month I have heard “experts” tell people not to drink milk and, honestly, it makes me want to scream. One instance was a personal trainer (who should NOT be giving out nutrition advice in the first place) who told a 12 year old not to drink milk because it is loaded with sugar. The second was a doctor (she should know better) who also told a 20-something patient not to drink milk because our bodies do not absorb calcium. I find it infuriating when people who are not dietitians give out nutrition advice and it’s even more infuriating when that information is wrong, as it often is!
Milk is not a bad food, it is a very healthy food and a simple, compact way of getting tons of nutrients. Milk is the perfect little package of carbohydrate, protein, fat, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin A, riboflavin, potassium and phosphorus (there are more, but in small amounts). The sugar that you see on the Nutrition Facts label of the milk carton is not the same as the added sugar in soda or cookies. That sugar comes from lactose, which is a natural sugar, and is the source of carbohydrate in milk. Due to the ideal ratio of carbohydrate and protein found in milk it is the optimal recovery drink after a hard workout and can even help manage weight. So, the trainer who told his client not to drink milk was really doing himself a huge disservice.
As for the doctor who told his patient not to drink milk because our bodies don’t really absorb the calcium, as we’ve been told all our lives, she, sadly, is also misinformed. Your body is 1.5% calcium and 99% of it is housed in your bones and teeth. If your body senses that it is running low on calcium stores it will take more from the foods you eat. So, in a way, if your calcium stores are topped off, then your body doesn’t absorb calcium, but not because it can’t- just because it doesn’t need it. Calcium also requires Vitamin D to be readily absorbed, and Vitamin D deficiency is a problem in this country, so your body might not be absorbing calcium to it’s full capacity if you are deficient in Vitamin D.
Persons over 6 should be consuming 3 cups of milk or other dairy products daily. Kids younger than 6 only need 2 cups of milk and milk products per day.