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From: Jeff Novick, MS, RD, LD, LN (
Subject:         Re: Article on Milk
Date: January 4, 2008 at 11:32 am PST

In Reply to: Article on Milk posted by Brian on January 4, 2008 at 9:56 am:

Being you asked my opinion, :)

I dont know what is sadder, that MSNBC and Mens Health continue to print misleading misinformation about diet and health, or that people beleive the junk they print.

My opinion is not changed by lay articles written in such magazines. My opinion is influenced by the results of well designed research that has been peer-reviewed and published that i can read myself and see myself. And, not just one, but the preponderance of the evidence.

You will not find this in Mens Health or MSNBCs website.

As I have said before several times on this board, MSNBC and Men;s Health are not reliable accurate sources of health information. To try and argue every article of nonsense they post is silly. We need to look towards reputable sources for nutrition info. And ones that are not influenced by industries that have a huge vested interest in the outcome of the data or the promotion of the product studies. This information is as readily available as the above article is, but somehow people seem to shy away from it, and tend to be drawn to the media controversies, which in the end, do little for anyone.

Remember, their bottom line is not your health, its subscription sales and ratings

my opinion... do not feed that monster!! :)

The following was recently written by Walter C.
Willett, M.D., who is chair of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health and a professor of medicine at the Harvard Medical School.

Reconsidering Calcium

Rather than relying on milk, we should get this vital nutrient from a variety of sources. By Walter C. Willett, M.D.

Youve seen the advertisements celebrities and public
figures from all walks of life, each sporting a
gleaming white milk mustache. The ads are supposed to make you aware of the dangers of not getting enough calcium, while urging you to drink three glasses of milk a day.

I hope you can resist the allure of this slick but
misleading campaign, sponsored by the U.S. dairy
industry. Theres no question that calcium is an
essential part of a healthy diet, but other major
questions have yet to be answered, among them the
question of how much calcium we really need every day.

In the United States, the official current recommended intakes are 1,000 milligrams a day for ages 19 to 50, and 1,200 milligrams a day for ages 50 and older. The latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the new U.S. Department of Agriculture food pyramid say we should get much of that calcium from three daily servings of milk, cheese, yogurt or other dairy products. However, theres no solid evidence that merely increasing the amount of milk in your diet will
protect you from breaking a hip or crushing a backbone
in later years.

Milk is clearly the most efficient way to get calcium
from food, since it delivers about 300 milligrams per
8-ounce glass. Few other foods come close to packing
in that much calcium. But milk delivers more than just
calcium, and some of its other components such as
extra calories, saturated fat and the sugar known as
galactose arent necessarily good for you.

The main reason for all the concern about too little
calcium is the frightful prospect of osteoporosis, the
gradual and insidious loss of bone that often comes
with old age. Each year, osteoporosis leads to more
than 1.5 million fractures, including 300,000 broken
hips. Osteoporosis is usually portrayed as a womens
disease, but it also affects men. Men enter adulthood
with stronger, denser bones than women, and they never
face the sudden, bone-draining loss of estrogen that
occurs with menopause. This gives them a five- to
10-year hedge against osteoporosis over women, but not
lifetime protection. Unfortunately, theres little
proof that just boosting your calcium intake to the
high levels that are currently recommended will
prevent fractures. And all the high-profile attention
given to calcium is distracting us from strategies
that really work such as exercise, medications and
vitamins and, for women, hormone replacement therapy.

Dairy products shouldnt occupy the prominent place
that they do in the U.S. Department of Agriculture
food pyramid, and they shouldnt be the centerpiece of
the national strategy to prevent osteoporosis.
Instead, the evidence shows that dietary calcium
should come from a variety of sources and, if more
calcium is really needed, from cheap, no-calorie,
easy-to-take supplements. Consider dairy products as
an optional part of a healthy diet and have them in
moderation, if at all.

Real Calcium Needs

About 99 percent of your bodys calcium is locked in
bone. The rest is dissolved in your blood and the
fluid inside and outside cells, where it helps conduct
nerve impulses, regulate your heartbeat and control
other cell functions. Although you would never know it
from the milk-mustache advertisements, no one really
knows the healthiest, safest amount of dietary
calcium. Different scientific approaches yield
different estimates.

Daily calcium requirements are traditionally
calculated using a balance study. This is a relatively
straightforward test you assemble a group of
volunteers, put them on a diet of supplements
containing different amounts of calcium for a few days
or a few weeks, then measure the amount of calcium
they excrete. Balance studies show that about 550
milligrams of calcium a day is an optimal level for
the mythical average adult. Another route to estimate
daily calcium requirements is called the maximal
retention study. This approach, which was also used to
help set the current recommendations, tries to
determine the highest amount of calcium that the body
(mainly the bones) can grab and hold on to. Yet
another piece of evidence comes from measurements of
bone density using X-rays before and after a year or
so of calcium supplementation. All of these types of
studies were used by the expert panel that set the
current target recommendations for calcium intake.
What these short-term studies fail to capture is the
bodys remarkable capacity to adapt. A unique study of
Scandinavian prisoners, all men, showed that their
bodies were still adapting after several years on a
lower-calcium diet (500 milligrams a day), mainly by
excreting less calcium and using calcium more
efficiently. In real life, broken bones are a better
test of desirable calcium levels than the short-term
flow of calcium in and out of the body or measurements
of bone density. Studies comparing people who have
broken their hips or wrists because of osteoporosis
with people who havent broken bones have yielded mixed
results. More importantly, the results from seven
studies done in the United States, England and Sweden
that followed large groups of people for long periods
didnt show any important reduction in risk of broken
bones with increased calcium intake.

Why Not Drink More Milk?

If no one really knows the best daily calcium target,
then why not play it safe and boost your calcium by
drinking three glasses of milk a day? Here are a few
good reasons:

Lactose intolerance. All babies are born with the
ability to digest milk. Some people, especially those
of northern European ancestry, keep this trait for
life. Most children, though, gradually lose this
ability as their bodies stop making an enzyme called
lactase that breaks down milk sugar (lactose). In
fact, only about a quarter of the worlds adults can
fully digest milk. In the United States, as many as 50
million adults arent equipped to digest milk. Half of
Hispanic-Americans, 75 percent of African-Americans
and more than 90 percent of Asian-Americans cant
tolerate a lot of lactose. For them, drinking a glass
of milk can have unpleasant consequences, such as
nausea, bloating, cramps and diarrhea.

Saturated fat. An 8-ounce glass of whole milk contains
nearly 5 grams of saturated fat; 20 grams is the
recommended daily limit. Drinking three glasses a day
would be the equivalent of eating 12 strips of bacon.
If you enjoy milk, low-fat and skim are better choices
than whole milk.

Extra calories. Three glasses of whole milk a day add
450 calories to your diet about one-quarter of your
daily intake allowance. Low-fat milk, at 330 calories,
adds a bit fewer, but still a lot if the main goal is
to get more calcium.

Prostate cancer. A diet high in dairy products has
been implicated as a risk factor for prostate cancer.
In nine separate studies, the strongest and most
consistent dietary factor linked with prostate cancer
was high consumption of milk or dairy products. In the
largest of these??the Health Professionals Follow-up
Study conducted by the Harvard School of Public
Health??men who drank two or more glasses of milk a
day were almost twice as likely to develop advanced or
metastatic (spreading) prostate cancer as those who
didnt drink milk at all. To be on the safe side, men
should try to keep their daily calcium intake below
1,000 milligrams.

Ovarian cancer. About 15 years ago, Harvard Medical
School researchers suggested that high levels of
galactose, a simple sugar released by the digestion of
lactose in milk, could damage the ovary and possibly
lead to ovarian cancer. Since then a number of studies
have tested this hypothesis. While the evidence isnt
conclusive, I think that a positive link between
galactose and ovarian cancer shows up too many times
to ignore the possibility that it may be harmful.

Build Healthier Bones

How much calcium we need is one of the major unsettled
issues in human nutrition. It is clear that active,
healthy people who get only low to moderate amounts of
calcium can have low rates of bone fractures. Whether
getting more calcium will further lower this risk is
an open question. A reasonable strategy for women is
to try to get an extra 500 to 1,000 milligrams of
calcium a day in middle age, in addition to their
normal diet. (The typical diet provides about 300
milligrams, without dairy.) Calcium supplements with
vitamin D are the best way to do this. Low-fat dairy
is an alternative for those who really like milk. For
men, the balance of benefits and risks tips against a
lot of extra calcium. There are three things almost
everyone can do to reduce the chances of developing

Be as physically active as possible. Cells inside bone
sense physical strain or stress and orchestrate a
silent symphony of activity to make your bones
stronger and more dense. The more healthy stress on
bones, the more bone is built.

Get enough vitamin K. This vitamin plays one or more
roles in the regulation of calcium and the formation
and stabilization of bone, so too little vitamin K may
help set the stage for osteoporosis. Eat at least one
serving of green leafy vegetables a day, such as dark
green lettuce, broccoli, spinach, Brussels sprouts or

Take a multivitamin that contains vitamin D. This
vitamin helps the body absorb calcium and plays an
important role in maintaining bone density. A recent
study showed that a vitamin D deficiency was much more
common among women who had broken a hip than women who
had not. Although the evidence isnt totally
consistent, extra vitamin D may be an effective way to
prevent bone loss. For most people, the easiest way to
do this is to take a standard multivitamin supplement.

During and after menopause, women should talk with a
trusted health care provider about hormone replacement
therapy, one benefit of which is to reduce the risk of
osteoporosis. The decision to begin hormone
replacement therapy isnt something to take lightly.
This is a complicated issue with rapidly changing
options. Hormone replacement therapy definitely has
clear benefits but also carries some risks. This
discussion should focus on weighing the benefits
against the risks, because they are different for each


Walter C. Willett, M.D., is chair of the Department of
Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health and a
professor of medicine at the Harvard Medical School.


If you want to understand nutrition, many of the classic textbooks are great resources for the background and basic information on biochemistry and physiology.

One of my favorites is

Modern Nutrition in Health & Disease by Maurice Shils

In addition, I highly recommend anyone interested in nutrition and health to go to the website of the National Academy of Sciences and the World Health Organization and read all their published reports on these topics. They are all free to the public at the websites.

(Check out all the subtopics sections on the left also)

In addition, the Institute of Medicine, the CDC, the National Institute of Aging also have great reports.

Also, while some of the info from the USDA, and FDA is influenced by industry, their reports and data are still great to read.

Next, would be the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition along with several other leading nutrition journals.

The above, is more than a great start, for now

Hope this helps
In Health

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