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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.

 

People 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 for you:

  • 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 health.
  • Look for lactose-reduced products in your dairy case.
  • Take Lactaid® tablets or drops before consuming dairy products.

 

Eating a 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 nutrition.

 

There is no scientific evidence that drinking milk causes early puberty.

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.

 

Milk 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

Dairy 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 osteoporosis.
 

Dairy 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 cells.

Dairy 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.

 

Dairy 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.