Many of us grew up being told that drinking milk was a pathway to health. We drank cartons of milk, even if the rest of our meal consisted of pizza or chicken fingers.
We believed that milk was the secret elixir that would have us grow taller, become stronger and live longer.
Decades later, milk has taken a considerable fall from grace.
Milk consumption has declined by almost one-third over the past 40 years.(1)
While we once believed that milk was a cure-all, now many shoppers are reaching for non-dairy milks, such as hemp or almond.
A recent study indicated that women who drank a lot of milk in their teenage years did not have a lower incidence of hip fractures. In teenage men, there was a greater incidence of hip fractures which was less significant once they factored in bone height. (2)
It is clear that we need to look for more varied solutions to keep our bones strong and healthy. Here are four suggestions:
1) Think beyond calcium
Calcium is only a part of the strong bones story, and some are starting to believe that it might not be quite as important as we think.
Countries where calcium intake is one-third of the recommended daily intake in the United States have a much lower incidence of bone fractures, though other factors may be at play.(3)
Studies have shown that Vitamin K, magnesium, zinc and Vitamin D are just as important in maintaining bone density as we age.(4)
Go outside to get a short dose of sunlight, and eat a varied diet with fatty fish, leafy green vegetables and tofu. Change up your whole-foods diet to make sure you are getting a variety of vitamins and nutrients.
2) Fortified foods
There are times of the year when it can be difficult to get all of the nutrients you need, due to a lack of fresh produce and sunlight. Turn to fortified foods, such as fresh orange juice with added Vitamin D and calcium, for a little help.
3) Get regular exercise (and switch it up)
Bones need stress in order to retain (or gain) density throughout life. There are many possible weight-bearing exercises, even walking, that can help to counteract a sedentary lifestyle.
The trick is to do them as often as you can, rather than letting a seated position become your baseline. Exercise builds muscle and co-ordination, which can help protect from fractures in case of a fall. (3)
4) Parathyroid hormone
This hormone helps the body to deliver calcium and phosphorus in the right dose. For anyone with a hormone imbalance, parathyroid injections can stimulate cortical and trabecular bone in humans.(5)
It is a potential alternative for those who are unable to take other bone-building medications for osteoporosis and are at extreme risk of bone fractures. Currently, the drug is limited to only two years of use due to unknown long-term side effects.(6)
Reviewed August 17, 2016
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith
1) Baird, Sarah. How Cow’s Milk Went From A Basic Beverage To A Dismissed Drink. Eater. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
2) Milk Consumption During Teenage Years and Risk of Hip Fractures in Older Adults. Jama Pediatrics. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
3) Calcium: What’s Best For Your Bones And Your Health. The Nutrition Source. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
4) Kevin D. Cashman. Diet, Nutrition and Bone Health. Journal of Nutrition. November 2007. Vol. 137 no. 11 2507S-2512S.
5) Morley, P. et al.Parathyroid hormone: an anabolic treatment for osteoporosis. Curr Pharm Des. 2001 May;7(8):671-87.
6) Teriparatide for Osteoporosis. WebMD. Retrieved 16 August 2016.