We’ve all heard it. The saying that, “Milk gives us strong bones.” But is this really the best source of nutrition for our growing children? When taking a deeper look into the milk-bone health connection, I have come to realize that milk is not all its cracked up to be. Here are a few reasons why your kids don’t need milk to build strong bones, and what they need instead.
Debunking the Milk Myth
In today’s society, there is a common misconception that milk gives us strong bones. This myth stems from an overkill of advertisements by the commercial dairy industry claiming that milk has calcium which helps increase bone density, therefore if you consume milk, you will have strong bones.
This claim, however, could not be further from the truth. In fact, pasteurized milk has NO significant health benefits whatsoever.
Yes, it is true that milk contains some calcium, but what most people don’t realize is that pasteurized milk actually has very little to do with the health of your bones.
There are so many other options when choosing good sources of calcium that (pasteurized) milk should not even be on the radar, especially since it can actually have harmful effects on your child’s health.
What About Raw Milk?
The process of pasteurization destroys nearly all of the beneficial nutrients contained in milk (calcium included).
Because raw milk is left in its purest form, it contains much higher levels of calcium. It also contains loads of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and beneficial bacteria that pasteurized milk just can’t compete with.
Proponents of raw dairy consumption, such as the Weston A. Price Foundation, recommend regular intake of organic, raw, grass-fed, pasture-raised varieties of dairy and most especially in fermented forms (i.e. yogurt, cheese, kefir).
I highly recommend the Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby and Child Care for anyone who is interested in learning more about this type of diet.
While I do believe that raw milk can have its dietary advantages for some, when it comes to the relationship between milk and strong bones, I still don’t find it a necessary nutrient.
Is Calcium Even Necessary For Strong Bones?
Many recent studies, such as this one, have shown little to NO association between the consumption of calcium and improved bone density. Bones are, in fact, made up of dozens of minerals, which all must be present in a balanced ratio, in order to achieve optimal bone health.
According to Dr. Robert Thompson M.D., the claim that calcium is essential for strong bones is a BIG FAT LIE!
In his book, The Calcium Lie: What Your Doctor Doesn’t Know Could Kill You, he goes on to say:
“Nearly all of us and our doctors have bought into this “Calcium Lie”, hook line and sinker. We believe that unless we get loads of calcium, our bones will crumble to powder. It’s not true. It’s never been true and basic science taught in every university in the world shows us the error of this believe system.”
Dr. Thompson argues moreover, that the overconsumption of calcium can actually lead to many health problems (especially in children) such as obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Alternatives for bone health
So what is a health-conscious mama supposed to do then?
Don’t worry! There are plenty of options that will provide the right kinds of nutrients for your kids and their growing bones. (This list is by no means exhaustive, but will help you get started.)
Eliminate processed foods:
As you may know, processed foods are not good for your health and subsequently, can really wreak havoc on your bones. When you consume processed foods you create a biochemical and metabolic dysregulation in your body, which will act to decrease bone density.
High-quality, unprocessed salts such as Himalayan Pink Salt or Celtic Sea Salt are excellent sources of minerals, absolutely crucial for strong bones. These salts will provide the body with ionic trace minerals that are tough to get from food alone.
This is not to be confused with Table Salt, which is highly processed and usually contains additives and/or preservatives that can be harmful to our bones (and general health).
As with most things, the amount of salt you consume or give to your little ones is also an important factor to consider. The biological need for salt varies from person-to-person and depends on many factors including weight, age, activity level, and health conditions. So don’t over do it!
The biological need for salt varies from person-to-person and depends on many factors including weight, age, activity level, and health conditions. So don’t over do it!
Engaging in regular physical activity is one of the best ways for your child to develop healthy bones.
Weight-bearing activities(especially in adolescents) are crucial for building proper bone mass. This form of exercise will help your child create a foundation that they can literally carry with them throughout their entire lifetime.
This doesn’t have to mean physically lifting weights either. Simple body weight movements (or sports that incorporate them) like walking or running can also be very effective.
Calcium (and many other essential vitamins and minerals) need saturated fat in order to be properly absorbed. This is one of the reasons why it is so crucial to make sure that your children are consuming enough essential fatty acids like Omega- 3’s.
I recommend supplementing with a high-quality Cod Liver Oil or Krill oil. This one here is what I use and trust for my family.
The sunshine, not only gives us and our children an instant boost of happiness, but it provides us with an amazing nutrient called Vitamin D!
Vitamin D is not just a simple vitamin, it is actually a vital hormone precursor, essential for growing healthy and strong bones (and many other critical functions of the body).
This is one of the easiest (not to mention FREE!!) resources that is readily available to most people. So get outside with your kids as you all will greatly benefit!
Note: If you cannot get at least 15 minutes of sunshine on most days, then supplementation may be necessary. The above mentioned fermented cod liver oil also contains Vitamin D. You can also look for any good-quality Vitamin D3 supplement.
I’d love to hear from you! What do you think about milk and its connection with bone health? Let me know in the comments below!
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