When you hear Harvard experts telling you something, you better be all ears. Every day we see scores of advertisement being thrown our way that makes us believe that milk and dairy products are the major source of calcium and calcium is what will make our bones stronger. But is it just a marketing gimmick or is there any truth to the ad copy?
Well, if you are to believe health experts and scientists at Harvard, the whole ‘milk is good for you’ routine might just be a party line. In reality, dairy products have not been proven to give any remarkable results for bone health and density and they are hardly the only favorable source of calcium. Here is what you need to know about recent Harvard findings regarding calcium intake.
Calcium and Bone Density
The ideal health plan would include healthy bones – bones that are denser and therefore able to provide safety from stress fractures. Then there is the imminent risk of diseases like osteoporosis, in which the bones become porous and weak and can break at any time, causing fractures and serious physical disability. So how do you prevent yourself from that?
Simply put, Calcium should surely be part of the health routine. But Calcium isn’t the only thing that you need. You also need to increase your intake of Vitamin D (to absorb Calcium) and lower intake of Vitamin A (retinol) which weakens bones. Ironically, fortified milk and other dairy products are high in Vitamin A content and low in Vitamin D.
There is of course one more thing apart from food intake that can help increase bone density: weight bearing exercise. If you really wish to increase bone density and be free from risk of fractures you need to take up running, jogging, weight lifting or even dancing as a regular activity because these make your weak bones denser.
What Harvard Says About Dairy Products
People with lactose intolerance are constantly being told that they are at higher risk of bone disease but that is not really true. Harvard studies suggest that soy products, leafy greens, beans, salmon, sardines, sesame Tahini and sea vegetables all have large amounts of calcium and Vitamin D content that dairy products are supposed to have.
Dairy products on the other hand, have other harmful additions too which can be dangerous to health, like high saturated fat content, high retinol content and high sugar content. All these harmful substances can be the cause of high cholesterol (leading to heart conditions), increased ovarian cancer risk and increased prostate cancer risk.
So basically the Harvard studies recommend non dairy calcium sources over dairy products which are supposedly high in calcium. They also conclude that high protein diets will actually release more acid into the blood stream and this doesn’t count as healthy for bones either. An average amount of protein intake would be less than 68g a day.