Soy-based beverages are not nutritionally
equivalent to milk.
Fortified soymilk may contain the same amount of
calcium as cow's milk on the label, but you have
to drink more of it to get the same benefits
because the amount of calcium the body absorbs
is less. Creighton University researchers
calculated that the body absorbs about 25
percent less calcium from soymilk than from
cow's milk. Since soy beverages are naturally
low in calcium (about 10 milligrams per
serving), manufacturers fortify them with
calcium salts to boost the calcium content.
However, the amount of calcium salts added is
not regulated and may vary from 80 to 500
milligrams a serving. A serving of milk (8
ounces) contains about 300 milligrams of
calcium. It would take 500 milligrams of calcium
in an 8-ounce serving of fortified soymilk to
equal the calcium in a glass of cow's milk.
with lactose intolerance can enjoy dairy foods,
if eaten in small quantities with meals.
People with lactose intolerance have trouble
digesting the natural sugar in milk and may
experience bloating or stomach discomfort if
they drink large quantities of milk. It is
important to know that lactose intolerance is
not the same thing as a milk allergy, which
causes a reaction to the protein in the milk.
The good news is that recent research has shown
that most people who are lactose intolerant can
actually consume up to 2 cups of milk per day
without symptoms if spread out over the day,
e.g. one cup at breakfast and one at dinner. The
recommended number of servings from the
milk/dairy group can also be obtained by eating
cheese and yogurt, which are generally better
tolerated than milk.
Try some of the following tips to manage your
lactose intolerance and learn what works best
- Drink milk and eat dairy foods with
meals and snacks.
- Drink and eat dairy products in smaller,
more frequent servings.
- Choose dairy foods that are more easily
digested. These include whole and chocolate
milk, aged or ripened cheeses like cheddar
and Swiss, ice cream and ice milk.
- Eat yogurt with active cultures. The
bacterial cultures breakdown the milk sugar
(lactose) in these products. The "good
bacteria" found in yogurt also enhances your
- Look for lactose-reduced products in
your dairy case.
- Take Lactaid® tablets or drops before
consuming dairy products.
diet containing 3-4 servings of dairy products
per day does not enhance weight gain.
Multiple observational studies show that people
who consume more calcium and dairy foods weigh
less or have less body fat than those who
consume little or no dairy. A pilot study
reported in the 2004 Journal of the American
Dietetic Association found that calcium rich
diets do not cause weight gain in pubertal girls
as compared to girls on their usual diets. The
additional servings of dairy foods did however
provide significant improvements in overall
no scientific evidence that drinking milk causes
The latest hypothesis is that a high fat diet
could be the culprit. On the other hand, milk is
a very significant source of calcium and should
not be eliminated during puberty. Pre-teen girls
(9 and up) need 1300 mg of calcium a day since
this is the "window of time" during late
childhood and adolescence when calcium is
deposited in bone.
consumption does not lead to mucus production or
occurrence of asthma.
The belief has been held for centuries that milk
causes mucus formation, although the few studies
on this topic have failed to demonstrate any
effect of milk on mucus production. Many people
confuse the temporary, slight thickening of
saliva after drinking milk with mucus. There is
no scientific research showing that milk
produces mucus in the airways or the throat. It
will not worsen cold or asthma symptoms. In
fact, drinking lots of fluids when you have a
cold is important in speeding up recovery and
may do your immune system some good n.
- Wüthrich, B. Journal of the American College
of Nutrition, 2005:24: 547S – 555S
products actually increase the risk osteoporosis.
Facts: This notion is based in large part on the fact that in
certain countries, such as China, where dairy products are
rarely consumed and calcium comes primarily from green
vegetables, the rate of osteoporosis (weakened bones) is low. In
fact, the studies present contradictory findings: many show that
high calcium intake (mostly from dairy products, and
particularly in early adulthood) does lead to stronger bones,
but others find that dairy or calcium intake does not lower the
risk of hip fractures. One possible problem is that dairy
products are rich in protein, and a high protein intake slightly
increases calcium excretion in urine, which might reduce bone
density. The high levels of calcium in dairy products should,
however, more than offset any effect their protein may have on
your bones. Genetics also plays a big role. We continue to
recommend dairy products (along with exercise and, if necessary,
calcium supplements) as the best way to reduce the risk of
products boost the risk of cancer in general.
Facts: Milk is not the problem, but rather total fat intake. For
instance, a high fat intake may increase the risk of lung,
prostate, and colon cancer. But at the same time some studies
have found that low-fat milk reduces the risk of lung cancer. In
fact, animal studies have shown that compounds in milk may
suppress cancer development. In addition, there's some evidence
that dairy products reduce the risk of colon cancer. Both
calcium and vitamin D (added to milk) may help protect colon
products increase the risk of ovarian cancer.
Facts: A few studies have suggested that there's a link between
lactose (milk sugar) and/or galactose (a related sugar) and
ovarian cancer, while others have found no connection. However,
a recent and well-done study in the American Journal of
Epidemiology refuted this claim. It found that women with
ovarian cancer had consumed less, not more, of these milk sugars
than healthy women.
products increase the risk of heart disease.
Facts: If you consume lots of whole milk and cheese, you're
likely to raise your blood cholesterol levels. That's true,
however, of any foods rich in saturated fat and cholesterol.
Milk's opponents talk as if all milk is still whole milk. But
more and more dairy products these days are nonfat or low-fat,
and thus do not raise cholesterol levels significantly. In fact,
there's some evidence that certain substances in milk may help
lower cholesterol somewhat. (However, with whole milk, this
effect is probably overwhelmed by the cholesterol-boosting
effect of the fat.) And since milk is rich in calcium and
magnesium, it can help reduce the risk of hypertension.
Milk opponents often quote a paper in Alternative Medicine
Review that indicted milk, even nonfat milk, as a cause of heart
disease. But that article was simplistic and misleading. It
found an association between milk consumption and heart disease
in population studies from 32 countries, but the data did not
allow the researcher to take into consideration many of the
other factors that can affect the risk of heart disease. Nor do
the data specify what kind of milk (full-fat vs. lower-fat) was
consumed in the various countries.