Does Dairy Cause Osteoporosis?

osteoporosisI do a lot of myth-busting around here, and it’s usually conventional wisdom that crumbles in the face of scientific evidence. But this time I’m actually siding with conventional wisdom, and busting a myth that’s common in the alternative health community. I addressed this topic in-depth on a recent podcast, but it’s such a common question that I decided to write an article on it for easy reference.

The myth in question is the idea that dairy foods contribute to osteoporosis by ‘acidifying’ our bodies. This claim is especially common in vegan-oriented alternative health media, but also comes up in other internet realms, including those with a Paleo orientation. The claim is based on the “acid-ash hypothesis of osteoporosis,” which I addressed extensively in my ‘Acid-Alkaline Myth’ series a couple months ago. (Check out part two as well.)

For those who missed the articles, this hypothesis states that foods high in phosphate leave an ‘acid ash’ after digestion, thereby lowering serum pH. The body supposedly compensates for this and restores normal blood pH by stealing alkaline minerals (such as calcium) from the bones, thus decreasing bone density.

Dairy products and bone health: one thing conventional wisdom gets right. Tweet This

Because of their phosphate content, milk and other dairy products are usually considered ‘acid-producing’ foods under this hypothesis. Thus, proponents claim that even though dairy contains calcium and other nutrients that can be used to build bone, dairy’s acidifying effect on the body outweighs its calcium content and results in a net loss of bone density.

Although I’ve already written about the hypothesis as a whole, I want to specifically address the claims regarding dairy for a few reasons. First, because my readership is acutely aware of how many times conventional wisdom has led us astray, I think we’re all more likely to believe a hypothesis that directly opposes mainstream health claims. In this case, dairy is so heavily advertised as a panacea for healthy bones that it would seem only natural for those claims to be dead wrong. You’ll see that (for once) this is not the case!

Additionally, I came across a 2011 study that specifically addresses the dairy-acid balance-osteoporosis connection. They came to some interesting conclusions that I want to share with you all, and hopefully we can put this issue to rest.

Dairy, acid balance, and osteoporosis: the real scoop

In this study, “Milk and acid-base balance: proposed hypothesis vs. scientific evidence,” the authors review both the acid-ash hypothesis as a whole and the specific claim that dairy contributes to osteoporosis. After reviewing the scientific evidence (or lack thereof), they reach the same conclusions that I have: the studies available simply do not support this hypothesis.

First, they emphasize that urine pH is not indicative of systemic pH. In fact, except in cases of serious renal insufficiency, diet does not affect serum pH at all. If it did, we’d be in a lot of trouble! The pH of our blood is maintained in a very tight range, and if it deviates significantly, we will die very quickly. No doubt we can really mess up our health by eating the wrong things, but thankfully our minute-to-minute survival doesn’t hinge on whether we can correctly balance the acidity or alkalinity of the foods we eat.

Further, the bones don’t even come into play in the regulation of our serum pH; that’s our kidneys’ job. Any ‘acid ash’ that is left behind by the foods we eat can be easily dealt with and eliminated in the urine. This is why your urine changes pH depending on what you eat. It’s just a sign that your kidneys are doing their job!

In short, their conclusions simply reiterate the points I made in my Acid-Alkaline series, and demonstrate that the acid-ash hypothesis of osteoporosis has no scientific backing. But perhaps the most interesting thing about this particular study on milk is the authors’ assertion that dairy isn’t even acid-forming in the first place!

The authors cite two studies that indicate that milk actually leaves an alkaline ash as opposed to an acid ash, based on measurements of urine pH and net acid excretion (NAE) following milk ingestion in clinical trials. (Remember, this doesn’t mean that milk raises serum pH. Foods can change urine pH, but not blood pH!) So not only is the hypothesis itself wrong; the application of the hypothesis is wrong too, at least in the case of dairy. Even if the acid ash hypothesis of osteoporosis were viable, there would still be no mechanism by which dairy would contribute to osteoporosis.

Dairy probably is good for your bones after all

The majority of the evidence indicates that conventional wisdom may actually be right about dairy. Clinical studies have found that drinking milk leads to a positive calcium balance, indicating that more calcium was absorbed than was excreted. (1) Other studies show that phosphate in general – not just from milk – increases calcium retention and improves bone health. (2) Increased dairy consumption is also consistently associated with lower rates of osteoporosis and better bone health. We all know to take observational studies with a grain of salt, but when clinical data backs up their conclusions, they’re significantly more convincing.

For example, an increased dairy intake in postmenopausal Korean women was associated with a decreased risk for osteoporosis. (3) Another study found that in the US, dairy intake was a significant predictor of osteoporosis among postmenopausal women. (4) And in Polish women, higher dairy consumption during childhood and adolescence predicted better bone health as adults. (5)

Although you won’t see me sporting a milk mustache in a “Got Milk?” ad anytime soon, it does appear that dairy can be beneficial for bone health. That’s not to say it’s necessary; after all, we got along just fine without dairy for most of human history! But based on the evidence, it’s safe to say that dairy does not contribute to osteoporosis, and full-fat dairy (preferably raw) can be a beneficial addition to the diet for many people.

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Comments Join the Conversation

  1. Nilofer says

    Thanks for clarifying this. I wonder, is there any evidence of “molecular mimicry” /autoimmune response against bone tissue if the body were to produce antibodies against dairy? I recall reading that gluten has been implicated in osteoporosis in this manner, beyond the “loss of nutrients” explanation of poor digestive health in general as a cause of osteoporosis.

    • Susan says

      Interesting question, Nilofer. I am both dairy and gluten sensitive, but ate copious amounts of both all my life until 7 years ago when I was first tested, after I was diagnosed with osteoporosis. My 16 year dependence on inhaled asthma steroids ended several months after I was told to stop dairy. Steroid inhalers also interfere with nutrient absorption. For me, all the years of milk and other dairy did not protect my bones. I’ve read if you take in TOO much dairy (I was addicted to it) you lose calcium in your urine (?)

  2. meaghan says

    Great article; I’m glad that most people in the paleosphere have no problem amending our viewpoint when solid research comes out. However, this still leaves a couple things…do the benefits of even grass-fed, raw dairy outweigh the negative side effects? Whole9 writes extensively about dairy in their Manifesto citing things such as:

    1. Growth Hormone stimulation (it’s meant for developing cows to add weight)
    2. The casein and whey can instigate a histamine response/cross reactor with gluten (I guess not problematic for all people).
    3. Fairly significant insulin response (not a huge issue for active people either I suppose).

    They do say that raw dairy can promote beneficial gut bacteria, but I’m still left wondering…at the end of this whole thing should we incorporate it (grass-fed, raw) into our diet for the health benefits or are we just better off getting our calcium from our veggies, etc?

    I am totally down for adding something to the mix if you can’t get it elsewhere-I take FCLO for that very reason and have no aversion to downing some raw frozen beef liver every now and then because there really aren’t any other sources for what those types of things offer.

    Thoughts? Thanks so much for your amazing work and contribution and for keeping it real :)

    • Chris Kresser says

      1. There’s little evidence that this matters in humans.
      2. Only problematic in those sensitive to casein, which is a small minority.
      3. Only matters in those with significant insulin resistance/metabolic syndrome.

      As I’ve said many times, tolerance to dairy is individual… but the vast majority of research on the effects of dairy on humans (rather than mechanistic studies speculating on growth hormone, or animal studies) show that dairy has beneficial effects on health.

      • meaghan says

        Thanks for the reply, Chris. Is it something you think we should experiment eating because there are health benefits exclusive to it? My only beef with dairy is its something I can easily overeat because it’s delicious (not that steak isn’t delicious but it’s different).

        • anna says

          “are we just better off getting our calcium from our veggies, etc?”
          Probably not. One would have to eat tons of veggies. Calcium is probably less absorbable from veggies and many people can’t eat this amount of veggies for a variety of reasons, including a tendency to form stones.

          • RB says

            Fruits, vegetables, fish, beans, soy, and seeds are all viable sources of calcium. You don’t need to drink milk to get your daily consumption of calcium.

            • Bill Morten says

              I would agree that we do not need to drink the milk of a cow, a human yes at the beginning of life, but not a cow.
              Considering the fact that most people in America are eating meat, it is best that they avoid drinking milk as a calcium supplement as it is a total wash with this combination.

              I am on a plant based diet and have been for 3 years.
              It is very natural to me and I am able to find plenty of alternative sources of calcium that I used to think that I was getting from milk.

              Remember that not everyone in the world consumes dairy products and these people tend not to have osteoporosis. The highestt rates of this disease are in countries where dairy product consumption is very high.

          • eir says

            totally! you better stay of thoose veggies if you want to be healthy. THAT is whats bad for you, not cow’s milk. taking milk from cows is natural. (just like when calves drink human breastmilk.) you know what really works for your health? bacon. the plant have feelings too. your eating their babies! think about the poor bananas!

      • Nilofer says

        As a high frequency migraineur who has found milk products and gluten to be primary triggers, along with high histamine foods such as fermented foods, I often wonder if:

        a. the migraines are solely attributed to histamine intolerance – histamine released from gluten immune response and dairy immune response/histamine found in dairy itself

        b. the migraines are solely attributed to auto-immune response (gluten well-known now for inducing neurological problems – new test coming out from Cyrex labs for tTG-6, tissue transglutaminase – 6)
        and that there is cross-reactivity with proteins in milk products which are “like” gluten

        c. combination of the above

        If b or c, I wonder how rare casein sensitivity is given the large number of migraineurs who report milk products as triggers?

        • Honora says

          Merhaba, Nilofer. Regarding b. There have been a lot of studies done on alpha 1 beta-casein in New Zealand and some other countries. This little molecule is a big trouble maker. It originated around 7,000 years ago as a mutation in Northern European cows (mainly Freisian/Holstein and Ayrshire). Herds in much of Asia, Africa and parts of Southern Europe remain naturally high in alpha 2 cows. New Zealand is steathily converting their herds to alpha 2 while denying alpha 1 is an issue. Fonterra have patented genotyping technology for both bulls and cows. When the time is right, I reckon they’ll spring alpha 1 milk on the market as the world’s biggest importer of dairy and the rest of the competition will be caught on the back foot 15 years behind. In the meantime we get to enjoy stuff like juvenile Diabetes Mellitis and heart disease.

          Beta caso-morphine (the devil in the milk) is exacerbated by pasteurisation.

          Very interesting about a 6th tTG. Our lab still only tests for tTG-2. Pretty useless as when it comes back as negative, it gives people the false impression their bodies have no conflict with gluten.

        • says

          Not to answer your question, but to share information that I read somewhere else (Barron) that migraines can be stopped with magnesium (IV?). Just leaving you with a hint here for you to research.
          Also, I read and I have found it to be true, that whole raw milk helps to nourish our adrenals and it has certainly helped (along with the Fatigue to Fantastic product line at Swanson~best price~) me with Adrenal Fatigue. I was juicing lots of raw veggies, Kale, etc. and limiting Himalayan sea salt and eating a lot of fruit also…And my preexisting, but not too adverse, Adrenal Fatigue turned into major Adrenal Fatigue. There were some other major things that I was doing incorrectly for ME that brought it on, mostly not using salt and drinking too much water. I now balance my diet with SALT, raw milk, pastured eggs, etc. and veggies and I’m recovering. Plus, I’ve added the full compenents of carnitine and ribose, which a study showed in three weeks helped to increase energy by 35 to 45% for those with fatigue issues…I will continue drinking raw whole milk, whereas pasteurized milk makes me extremely sick even in omelets!

        • PaleoJ says

          I’ve had success with reducing frequent painful migraines by eliminating all gluten. I still can tolerate raw and regular milk, and do not get any inflammation whatsoever. But my heritage is from two ethnicities that have used dairy products for a long time… I think this will depend on each individual and you just need to try it. I take magnesium every day in pill form. I tried mag IVs but who can run to get one every time you get a migraine? Plus, it did not seem to help to prevent them nor help when I actually had one while having a migraine. For me, no dairy product at all has been a trigger for migraines, and everything is pointing to just gluten.

      • M says

        Just watched Marc Ryan’s videos with Datis Kharrazian about healing Hashimoto’s. They contend there is a low thyroid epidemic that is mostly Hashimoto’s- an autoimmune disease that causes the body to attack the thyroid AND also, potentially, the brain. Cyrex labs is used to discover which tissues are being attacked, but gluten AND dairy are highly implicated- they contend the numbers are very high.

      • says

        A2 beta casein dairy is available right here in the U.S.! Jordan Rubin founded Beyond Organic approx 2 years ago. He bought 8,500 acres to raise A2 casein dairy cows and provides a raw, probiotic dairy drink called Amasai, as well as a variety of A2 casein raw cheeses. He also offers high quality, grass fed ‘grass finished’ beef. The best part… Beyond Organic delivers right to your door.

    • rangy says

      no. im doing a debate on milk, and honestly milk contribiutes to acne, osteoporosis, and obesity. These diseases come from the artificial hormones and substances in milk. Milk contains 12 grams of sugar, 8 grams cholestaral, and contains no fiber. a reason why america is obese is because of the lack of fiber. and milk contains no fiber. a much easier way to get your protien safely without being so high in saturated fat like milk, is to eat vegetables. Milk is so high in fat. Its endangering to our health your brainwashed by the media and advertisments, they also represent soda, and juices, so your going to just believe that as well? btw this is coming from a 15 year old you just got told.

      • Lisa N says

        You will come to the truth on your own. You sound like a lot of us when we were your age. Don’t stop researching and looking for the truth. Your strong values are exactly what this world needs.

        If you are open minded at all, a nice start would be Sally Fallon’s “The Oiling of America” free on youtube, and perhaps the Gary Taubes and Robert Lustig lectures would be interesting to you. Should you decide to get more advanced in your point of view that includes social justice with respect to global food systems, check out Lierre Keith and Derrick Jensen.

        Keep the fire.

  3. Juan Carlos Rodriguez says

    Some weeks ago a bus passed over the legs of the guy who sells me raw milk, he’s the one who milks the cows and has done for years, he drinks some milk always while milking the cow.

    Well, he’s 65 years old, the bus that passed over his legs was a passenger bus, it was at slow speed but he didn’t get any broken bone!

    I can’t think of anything else than milk (natural milk) giving such constitution to bones.

  4. Sharon says

    My limited observation of me and my half sister….. I ate LOTS dairy throughout my life and I have low bone density. My sister did not and her bones are fine. We are in our early 70′s. I see this inconsistency with others I have talked with on the subject. I think the verdict is still out as to what exactly causes osteoporosis.

    I am presently going with the hypothesis that excess dairy throughout one’s life can cause the bones to age faster due to having to deal with all that calcium. Much like the skin aging faster when exposed to excess amounts of sun.

    • anna kupecz says

      I agree with you. My mother had a large glass of milk with each meal and by the time she died she had gone from 5-6 to 5-2. Not a great recommendation to me.

      • Chris Kresser says

        That’s not compelling evidence. Any number of other things could have contributed to your mom’s decrease in height.

      • Catherine says

        I’m going to speculate and say this could be because dairy contains a lot of calcium, and calcium is a known inhibitor of iron absorption. Iron is important for bone density as well, with women in the highest quintiles of iron ingestion having the greatest bone density. So drinking milk with every meal is not a good idea, and it’s not at all surprising to me that it would end in decreased bone density. Gotta keep calcium and iron separate. The devil is in the details, as always.

      • Ann says

        I’ve read articles suggesting that osteoporosis has as much to do with decreases in sex hormones as women age than anything else. That’s one of the reasons why women who have supplemented with hormone replacement of primarily progesterone have fewer incidences of osteoporosis in studies. Progesterone is very protective during peri-menopause, but especially during and after, and with the availability of bio-identical hormone replacement, there is little to fear from supplementing with progesterone.

        There is also a HUGE hereditary component as well…

        • Fiona says

          Ann – I have been on HRT since the menopause and am now 76. I have quite bad osteo arthritis, but a recent fall from a small step ladder on to a hard pavement made me think that I’ve almost certainly not got osteoporosis (although I did have some very painful muscles)!

          • Ann says

            Fiona, You sound like MY mom! She is 93, and just moved in with us. My sister and I are constantly amazed at how healthy and vital she is for her age. We joke (kind of..) that she doesn’t fall – she bounces. She falls regularly, simply because she refuses NOT to be independent, and so rejects the helps that elders typically take along the way. She has a walker, which we have to continually remind her to use, but she is still getting up to toilet in the night all on her own. The other interesting thing about her, which also concerns sex hormones, is that she did NOT supplement with hrt, but had her last baby, me, at 46 years of age, after she was well into the early stages of menopause. I have heard, and do believe, that the later one concludes menopause, the better the health in old age, and the longer one tends to live.

            I think it is a statement about the way we eat here in the states that women here have such difficulty navigating menopause. To hear stories of women in other countries breezing through without a concern makes me think we probably have too much stress, too little connection to our inner selves, poor diets, and perhaps poor medical interventions.

    • Catherine says

      Seeing as how many (most?) people mix their iron-rich foods with calcium-rich foods like dairy (for example: burger + cheese), I think this is a major confound in any dairy-more osteoporosis correlations. Iron is important for bones too, and calcium inhibits iron absorption. I’m not certain of the stats, but I think osteoporosis is more prevalent in females? As soon as something is gendered like that, and we’re talking about nutrient deficits causing diseases, iron springs immediately to mind. Especially given eating patterns, with the over-promotion of “dairy with every meal”. Not a good idea, since we also need to absorb iron. Personally, I started to develop weaker teeth (more easily chipped) when I was not getting enough iron, and drank a lot of milk with almost every meal. But the explanation of calcium inhibiting iron absorption makes way more sense to me than anything convoluted I’ve heard about the “large” amount of calcium in milk (or any other explanation why milk would cause osteoporosis). One glass of milk has 30% of the calcium needed. Not an extremely large amount. And after all, babies grow strong and healthy bones on milk, as do other young animals . . . just my 2 cents.

    • Lisa N says

      Could it be from the type of milk you drank (supermarket, non organic, residuals from hormones/antibiotics, fat removed, homogenized, pasteurized, additives)?

      Wheras, someone drinking the organic, non pasteurized, non homogenized, no hormones or antibiotic, no additives, milk from healthy grass fed cows might have better benefits than someone not drinking no milk at all (hence not having supermarket milk)?

  5. Kim says

    Ah ha, I KNEW my body wasn’t crazy for craving dairy during pregnancy! I’ve been chugging whole milk and eating bowls of full-fat Green Yogurt topped with chopped fruit. I guess my body just needs extra calcium while it’s creating a whole new skeleton. :)

  6. Dean says

    Well this is a bit of a bold statement to make on a topic that is certainly debatable scientifically. The general rule of thumb I tell my clients is until you see that statement that “Milk builds strong bones” on a milk carton rather than in an advertisement, assume it doesn’t. The FDA regulates what you can say on a food label, where the FTC governs most advertisements and the bar is lower for advertisements. To date their exists little evidence and certainly not enough evidence of good peer reviewed studies that show milk helps bone density and as such you don’t see those claims on a milk container and haven’t in 50 years even though they are trying hard to prove it. The milk industry is pouring millions into research to try and scientifically support their hypothesis as obviously this would be good for sales but has failed to do so in a scientifically significant way. Osteoporosis on a macro level is generally highest in societies with some of the highest dairy consumption and lowest in countries where dairy products are hard to come by. Bone density responds much better to resistance training or laboring in general, not dairy consumption. Being Paleo means not eating highly processed food by animals that have been shot up full of hormones, antibiotics and fed unnatural food products. Today’s milk would not fit a healthy Paleo standard by any stretch of the imagination. More likely Paleo would potentially include milk/dairy products from other wild animals that may have been domesticated like sheep or goats. Add to that the overwhelming reaction many people have to milk such as a lack of lactase to break down the lactose sugars and or the protein allergies that are causing build-up of phlegm in the mucus membranes and you get a lot or reasons to leave modern day dairy milk behind.

    • Marie says

      Thank you for your insight. I have given up dairy the last 2 months and have had such great success with clearing out my sinuses and having better free flowing mucous in addition to relief from menstrual cramps that Ive been suffering from for over a decade. I am not touting the evils of dairy, I believe it is potentially possible to eat it in moderation if it were free from all of the processing and hormonal components you mentioned. I have not yet reintroduced sheep or goat products, I have been toying with doing that but for now am enjoying the benefits of a dairy free (other than organic grass fed butter and ghee) lifestyle.

      • Chris Kresser says

        The fact that you or anyone else feels better when they eliminate dairy does not prove anything about the overall effects of dairy on bone health, cardiovascular health, or any aspect of health. It just means it’s not a good choice for you. That’s why I recommend that everyone eliminate dairy for at least 30 days to find out.

        • Heather says

          I would like to know what type of dairy in the highest intake and what type in the lowest intake. Is this commercial ultra-pasteurized, homogenized milk being drank. What’s the breakdown in the fat % drank. There’s a lot of skim milk being drank out there. The synthetic vitamins it’s fortified with are useless – they’re not going to make it to the bones and not only calcium is needed for bone health. I still think it’s not the milk, it’s the way it’s processed. Like Chris said, too many confounding factors. How can natural raw milk – it’s sole design to feed a fast growing infant mammal and make it’s bones strong and healthy while doing it – be bad for the bones? The closest to raw I can find around me (it’s illegal!!!) is low-heat pasteurized from grass-fed dairy about 4 hours from where I live. the cream, buttermilk, butter and whole milk are all amazing. The chocolate milk is to die for (only allow myself a small glass. :)) Commercial dairy is what messes with me, Not the cheeses, though. I do agree it doesn’t need to be drank with every meal. It’s a meal supplement. Heck, it can be a meal on its own.

    • Chris Kresser says

      Observational links between dairy consumption and osteoporosis are not convincing because there are numerous confounding factors. I linked to several studies in the article which directly contradict the idea that dairy is associated with poor bone health.

      I’m not suggesting dairy is right for everyone, nor did I suggest that it is better than strength training for bone health, but there is little to no peer-reviewed evidence that it has negative health impacts on a population-wide basis. The fact that it wasn’t consumed during the Paleolithic isn’t a valid reason not to consume it now.

      • says

        I don’t disagree Chris, there is almost less research on the theory that Milk is somehow bad for bones but the milk industry and the general medical complex have suggested for decades that it is good for bones without the valid research to support it. And indeed you are correct in the countries where bone density is high and dairy consumption low, you see much more physical labor which likely accounts for the bone resorption. That though is probably the weakest reason for supporting any consumption of dairy given all the other science and knowledge we do know about the process of producing dairy products and the side effects in individuals. As for Paleo, I also agree that just because something is not technically Paleo does not mean we are not adapted to consume it and in fact adaptation is very regional along ones heritage and geographic region of their ancestors. That being said, Paleo spans almost 500,000 years and in fact their is evidence of fermented dairy product during what might be considered the later years of the Paleolithic period. That being said, fermented diary is radically different than plain old cow’s milk with both less Lactose and improved digestive enzymes and healthy bacteria.

        • Fiona says

          I couldn’t join the argument whether milk is beneficial or not in preventing osteoporis, but I can tell you that sheep’s milk yoghourt is absolutely delicious! I certainly seem to tolerate it better than any other dairy product.

      • chris says

        I read (1) and (2) which i was familiar with.
        Phosphoric acid – a form of phosphorus – if (2) is correct should have actually increased ca retention; it did not.
        (2) is not convincing because it was not run long term and nothing proves that all P did not end up in INSOLUBLE Ca phosphate… not excreted and explaining a higher Ca retention.
        Short-term studies like that are useless!
        Framingham published in 98(?) is worth re-reading because I think they looked at fracture incidence(not osteoporosis with densitometry a poor evaluation of bone strength).
        The conclusion was the opposite of yours KRISS.

    • Ann says

      Wow – well, one point you’ve completely missed is that most Paleo dieters wouldn’t be drinking milk or eating dairy ANYWAY, but Primal dieters who did would likely consume raw dairy from grass-fed cows NOT treated with hormones or antibiotics. That’s kind of the point of eating a whole-foods diet.

      A great read, and one I recommend to everyone, is “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration” by Weston A. Price. http://www.amazon.com/Nutrition-Physical-Degeneration-Weston-Price/dp/0916764206/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1378186293&sr=1-1

      I won’t go into a description here, but he studied traditional groups of people all over the world, and documented what they ate. Some of the healthiest people on the planet ate mostly whole grain breads, and cheeses, butter, and milk from grassfed cows for their entire lives, and were extremely healthy with no tooth decay, AND they lived to be very old. Obviously some folks have NO trouble digesting dairy and remaining healthy on it!

      Not everyone has a problem with dairy, and some thrive on it. If you have a problem, skip it. It’s really that simple!

      • Laura says

        “The China Study” (the most comprehensive nutrition study ever) paints a very different picture. It advocates a whole foods, plant based diet which creates optimum health for the human species. That lifestyle is more sustainable for the environment and for humans.

        Only plants have extreme restorative properties, enough so to DEclog arteries that have been junked up by the fat and cholesterol of animal protein.

        I’ll stick with the research that can not be traced back to a multi-billion dollar industry like meat and milk who have strong incentive to convice the public of their health claims.

  7. Fran says

    What is “ash” in this context? Is ash the right term? “Acid ash” or “alkaline ash” being produced by digestion of milk sounds like mumbo jumbo similar to “meat turns into black tar-like substances in your gut.”

  8. Marie says

    I found this interesting, but have to question if this study was based on grass fed dairy vs corn fed. Theoretically the dairy products from corn fed cows, devoid of K2, but still loaded with calcium, COULD contribute to osteoporosis, but not because of the ash theory mentioned. The studies that I have read have suggested that dairy products from corn fed cows, loaded with antibiotics, bgh and devoid of K2 can facilitate the calcium being ushered into our arteries vs our bones. What are your thoughts on this?

    • Chris Kresser says

      I haven’t seen any evidence that any dairy products are convincingly linked to osteoporosis. However, I always recommend dairy from pasture-raised animals for numerous other reasons.

      • chris says

        check these:

        Turner LW, et al, Osteoporotic fracture among older U.S. women: risk factors quantified. J Aging Health 1998 / 10 (3) / 372-391. , Owusu W, et al, Calcium intake and the incidence of forearm and hip fractures among men. J Nutr 1997 / 127 (9) / 1782-1787. , Feskanich, D. et al, Milk ,dietary calcium ,and bonefractures in women, a 12 year prospective study. Am. J. Public Health 1997 / 87 (6) / 992-997. , Meyer HE, et al, Dietary factors and the incidence of hip fracture in middle-aged Norwegians. A prospective study. Am J Epidemiol 1997 / 145 (2) / 117-123. , Tavani A, et al, Calcium, dairy products, and the risk of hip fracture in women in northern Italy. Epidemiology 1995 / 6 (5) / 554-557. , Meyer HE, Risk factors for hip fracture in a high incidence area: a case-control study from Oslo, Norway. Osteoporos Int 1995 / 5 (4) / 239-246. , Michaelsson K, et al, Diet and hip fracture risk: a case-control study. Study Group of the Multiple Risk Survey on Swedish Women for Eating Assessment. Int J Epidemiol 1995 / 24 (4) / 771-782. , Cumming RG, et al, Case-control study of risk factors for hip fractures in the elderly. Am J Epidemiol 1994 / 139 (5) / 493-503. , Nieves JW, et al, A case-control study of hip fracture: evaluation of selected dietary variables and teenage physical activity. Osteoporos Int 1992 / 2 (3) / 122-127. , Wickham CA, et al, Dietary calcium, physical activity, and risk of hip fracture: a prospective study. BMJ 1989 / 299 (6704) / 889-92. , Cooper C, et al, Physical activity, muscle strength, and calcium intake in fracture of the proximal femur in Britain. BMJ 1988 / 297 (6661) / 1443-1446

  9. Norma says

    I’d like to point out that there is a HUGE difference between pasteurized milk and raw milk. For instance a cat can’t drink pasteurized milk because it will get sick. But a cat will thrive, as my cat does, on raw milk. What would all these test look like if they compared raw to pasteurized milk? I feed my whole family raw milk and only see good from it. Considering that ultra-pasteurized milk can have a shelf life of 50+ days unrefrigerated is it really even a food anymore? It’s not something I would ever feed my family. . .

    • MachineGhost says

      Urban legend. Milk and cod liver oil are low in taurine. Cooking has a negative impact on the bioavailability of taurine in cats. So its not the pastuerized milk that is unhealthy, it is the lack of taurine in the diet. Obviously, plenty of cats thrive on a modern, cooked-food, pastuerized milk diet.

      Even raw milk will still prompt overt or sub-clinical inflammation and protein allergy. Just because you don’t feel it, doesn’t mean its not happening or won’t occur over time. Bottom line, milk is not naturally designed to be drunk beyond weaning, nonwithstanding the genetic mutation for lactose in Northern Europeans.

  10. says

    I used to do the standard 3 servings of dairy/day and found it did not work for my body. It was very mucus forming and heart burn disappeared when I stopped. I think 3 servings/day is too much for most people to handle, especially with compromised gut integrity. I still prefer to leave it out (unless every once in awhile and fermented) and don’t agree with the practices of the dairy industry. I’ll stick to my liquid ionic minerals :)

    • Honora says

      @Kristen. I’d be keen to know more about liquid ionic minerals. I bought Body Balance with Sea Nine but it doesn’t have the levels of minerals etc. on the bottle and neither does the web site. I need to know the iodine level in this stuff. Does anyone know? The sellers won’t divulge this information and I have 3+ bottles of it I’d like to consume.

  11. chris says

    YET, KRISS the Framingham study in 1998 concluded that people who ate dairy 2-3 times A WEEK had more fractures that those who did not. Harvard med school also says above 1.2g Ca /d quadruples the risk of DEATH from prostate cancer. Ca intake also put women at a higher risk of cancer uterus or breast forgot).
    If 30000 people followed by Harvard is not enough, ALL population studies show countries with the highest dairy intake have the HIGHEST rate of osteoporosis (Switzerland, Denmark, France all on top with KOREA on the bottom: they do not know what hip fracture is there…).

    Weston & Price had already established this about 90 years ago.

    Sorry I do not know what solid study you rely on.
    MUST also remember the never published study showing that homogenized milk caused fat deposits on arteries. The study was convincing, the fats analyzed were from the milk; I read it!! The dairy industry had sponsored the study and prevented it’s publication (early 80s).

    • anna says

      “ALL population studies show countries with the highest dairy intake have the HIGHEST rate of osteoporosis (Switzerland, Denmark, France all on top with KOREA on the bottom: they do not know what hip fracture is there…).”
      Oh, I really don’t like this argument and I saw it many times. When did the Danish women wash their sheets and duvets by hand last time? BTW, usually Scandinavian countries are listed as the most osteoporotic and somehow nobody mention a tiny little detail – the lack of sun.
      And which Korea do you have in mind.

      • Chris Drozier says

        Nora Gedgaudas ( Primal body Primal mind) mentions what I said and I’d assume she is talking about S Korea.

        The sun exposure factor was taken into account.and exercise also, of course
        I have the graph at home and wish i had the reference.

        Perhaps Weston &Price foundation would be a good source to track the study.THey are adamant that milk is bad…
        BELIEFS cannot stand against FACTS

        • Lisa N says

          WAPF says supermarket milk is bad, while raw, unpasteurized, organic, full fat milk from grass fed pastured cows, preferably a heritage breed, is GOOD, very good for the body.

          • Lisa N says

            also, ferment that good milk, it will be even better.
            Hence why people do better on cheese and kefir than just milk.

      • Bartholomew Balonek says

        I’ve seen studies testing osteoporosis in Switzerland and Denmark and concluding that excessive Vitamin A was the cause….

    • Laura says

      Chris, you are my hero. Thank you for spreading the truth! Diseases linked to dietary choices are one of the best evidences of health outcomes. If the people who are drinking the most milk also have the highest rate of osteoporosis and hip fractures, then we are being fooled when we are told that milk equals bone health. Old belief patterns about diet are hard to break, but we must look at the very convincing evidence that is right in front of our face as long as we choose to look for it!

  12. chris says

    HERE is a simple reference to an article published by Harvard school of public heath which refers to the Harvard Nurses study:

    http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/calcium-full-story/

    here is an excerpt:
    ” In particular, these studies suggest that high calcium intake doesn’t actually appear to lower a person’s risk for osteoporosis. For example, in the large Harvard studies of male health professionals and female nurses, individuals who drank one glass of milk (or less) per week were at no greater risk of breaking a hip or forearm than were those who drank two or more glasses per week. (2, 3) When researchers combined the data from the Harvard studies with other large prospective studies, they still found no association between calcium intake and fracture risk”

    • anna says

      I don’t know … All I know that my bright endo does want me have dairy 2-3 times a day. And I trust her more than Harvard. Maybe because as far as I know she didn’t push negative eugenics and didn’t greet the Nazis on the Square with “Sieg Heil.”
      It’s possible that there are other (better? later?) studies.

      • Chris Drozier says

        your ENDO? What kind of study is she relying on???
        any training in Nutrition?
        Most doctors and specialists repeat the same inacurate ideas . look at cholesterol and how many USELESS statin prescription are written.
        Have they read the study called “are statins over-prescibed? ” and its conclusions?
        DR Sinatra says statins should be outlawed!

        • anna says

          I don’t know which studies she is relying on, but I am pretty sure I can rely on her opinion. She’ll go far – she’s young.
          BTW, there is a new free paper in New York (The Epoch Times). Me being me I just skim it and at this point I don’t know what to think of it. It seems to be fine. In this weekend’s issue they have several health articles. A guy who writes about meat (he is for) has a following paragraph:
          ” I’m always wary of large studies of tens of thousands of people relying largely on “association” rather than solid facts. For instance, the sun rises every morning and we all get out of bed, but this is strickly an “association.”

          • says

            You are right, associative studies can be misinterpreted and often do but they are the foundation of many hypothesis. The Scientific Method has four main elements:

            1. Observation and description of a phenomenon or group of phenomena.

            2. Formulation of an hypothesis to explain the phenomena. In physics, the hypothesis often takes the form of a causal mechanism or a mathematical relation.

            3. Use of the hypothesis to predict the existence of other phenomena, or to predict quantitatively the results of new observations.

            4. Performance of experimental tests of the predictions by several independent experimenters and properly performed experiments.

            So macro studies and observational studies form the basis for the first two steps and entry into step three. Unfortunately it doesn’t become real science until step four is performed and then duplicated many times by others independently. That being said, associative studies and macro studies should never be ignored as all science often starts with this and when there is a correlation or a variable that looks like it may be causal then we need to take note and study further.

    • Chris D says

      Stan that is also my experience and it is well reported.
      RAW milk cheese does not produce adverse effects with me though
      You can try.
      In general cheese is MUCH better than milk.
      Butter has no (almost no) protein left thus no reaction with it and it’s a good fat

    • Fiona says

      Try sheep’s milk cheese. For me, better than goat’s, especially a well-matured, hard variety such as Spanish Manchego – gorgeous when eaten with a pear!

  13. says

    Good to hear that in this case conventional wisdom isn’t wrong about milk and healthier bones. As a kid, I grew up with the knowledge that drinking milk helps give you stronger bones, so at least that’s still true.

    • says

      I wouldn’t quite go that far in assuming that milk builds strong bones as there just isn’t definitive research out there to prove this theory and in fact there is far too much evidence that counters this theory suggesting it has no affect to bone density either way. And if you only drink milk with the singular thought of improving bone density and don’t take into consideration all the other factors then you may be missing key aspects to your health. What Chris said in this article is that the myth that drinking milk actually causes loss of bone density because of its acidic nature is likely just that, a myth. Science isn’t even in agreement on that point but it appears more likely that Chris is correct in this regard that there is ample evidence to suggest that milk being only mildly acidic won’t have a significant factor on release of calcium from bones into the body to help the process of balancing pH. If anything the SAD or Western diets along with lack of movement are to blame for over acidification and loss of bone minerals.

      • Heather says

        So, if milk is a problem, what’s up with the Maasai? Known for their big and strong bones, they exist mainly on milk, beef meat and beef blood. I absolutely agree that milk does not work for everyone, but some seem to thrive on it.

    • says

      There are 2 claims that need to be distinguished from one another.
      1. The claim that the calcium in milk gives us stronger bones – this has not been proven.
      2. The claim that milk produces an acid ash that requires minerals to be chelated from our bones, hence contributing to osteoporosis. This also has not been proven, and moreover does not make sense, and that is the point made by Chris’ article here.

      If a person debunks one of these unproven claims, they not by default proposing the other!

  14. Donna says

    I am curious about whether the evidence that calcium supplements can contribute to CVD has any implications for the possibility of “excessive” consumption of dairy products. That is, could someone consume too much calcium through dairy products and as a result increase calcifications in their blood vessels? Also: Chris, don’t you feel you owe your readers just a minimal warning that raw milk can in fact be dangerous? http://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/rawmilk/raw-milk-videos.html

    • Chris Drozier says

      raw milk is subjected to more stringent criteria than reg milk and homogenized milk CAUSES fat deposits in your arteries.
      Time for the unpublished study (80s) to be publicized again.
      I read its entirety when the magazine from the TM organization published it. VERY Convincing hence its lack of publication by the funding source: the milk industry.
      Raw milk cheese from milk contaminated by listeria (as I recall) was found sterile from the bug in FRANCE (Roquefort) a few Years ago.

  15. Brad Thomas says

    Chris,
    What are your thoughts on the ideas that too much salt can be bad for bone health (I know your salt recommendation 4000 and 5990 milligrams day)? Is it the excess phosphorus that usually goes with high salt intake?
    http://www.webmd.com/osteoporosis/living-with-osteoporosis-7/diet-dangers

    And do you think too much saturated fat is bad for bone health?
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16365076

    Is it maybe that high dairy consumption in the absence of a nutrient dense diet leads to weak bones due to other micronutrients not being present (magnesium, K2, etc)?

    • Chris Drozier says

      I read the abstract.one may want to ask”what kind of saturated fat?” fat from low quality chicken fed rancid and trans fats?, fats from animals pumped with antibiotics and hormones (both accumulate in fats)?Fats from crisco? fats from hydrogenated oils (full of trans fats) the study says nothing about the FAT QUALITY in the abstract..
      It also seems intake of beneficial veggies or sun exposure was ignored

  16. Sandy says

    I have loved milk all of my life and drink it with most every meal. I think it helps bones most in our developing years when we are building bones in childhood, teen years and young adulthood. It gives me no digestive problems and I will drink it as always.

  17. Lorraine says

    I would think that it makes a difference whether the milk is raw or pasteurized, too, a fact that is virtually always disallowed.

  18. Wenchypoo says

    Coming at this from a gout perspective, all the info I found on the web says that dairy is a “neutral” food when it comes to the acid-alkaline debate. Yeah, the milk in it is acidic-forming, but the calcium in it is alkaline, so it offsets the acid.

    I was looking for a way to solve Hubby’s got problem without sending him into meat withdrawals (which he got–got horrendous cravings for it while on a “low purine” diet). As an alternative to this diet, I found the acid-alkaline stuff, and learned that some foods actually CHANGE their pH after passing through stomach acid: lemons are one.

    After making changes to our diet by including these acid-to-alkaline foods, I keep his gout largely at bay. I say “largely” because he still gets occasional attacks brought on by barometric pressure–nothing I can do about that, except maybe buy a hyperbaric chamber for him to crawl into.

    I had previously tried using calcium carbonate supplements (it too changes your pH), but found it gave Hubby athlete’s foot–a sign of TOO MUCH alkalinity. Up to that point, he’d never had athlete’s foot before. I switched to using these convertible-pH foods, and he’s as fine as I can get him.

    • Dan says

      calcium CITRATE and foods that contain citrate are good for breaking up kidney and gall stones, may also be useful for gout considering gout is uric acid crystals, same substance in some kidney stones. Also how much liquid is he drinking? Not enough fluids also contribute to kidney stones, may be a relation with gout

      • Catherine says

        Lemons contain citrate, so maybe that’s why lemons helped? (and not because of the acid-alkaline thing, which I don’t really like haha).

  19. Estelle says

    I applaud you Chris for raising this subject. And for daring to ‘step out of line ! Dairy has become a ‘dirty word’ in the alternative health community, and to shun it has become almost the norm.
    We are told that the countries with the greatest dairy consumption have the highest rates of osteoporosis. Conveniently omitted is that these countries also have the highest consumption of refined carbohydrates and processed food. Why pick on the dairy ?
    And studies are produced to demonstrate the harms of dairy, but they’re meaningless because they’re
    all based on industrially produced milk, pasteurised, standardised, homogenised, defatted etc. A far cry from the real milk I drank as a child, fresh from our own cow. Infections were not passed on in the milk because care was taken with cleanliness.
    I was raised in a dairying culture. My ancestors as far back as I can trace, all had raw dairy (there being no such thing as pasteurisation till the 20th century). They all had good bones.
    Many people posting on here will also be descended from cultures that kept dairy animals. Why would something that has sustained us for millenia be suddenly so harmful ?? Only because of the way it’s now produced and processed.

    • Ann says

      Estelle,

      I WANT to agree with you. Mostly because I love dairy. But I disagree with your argument that it has become “suddenly so harmful” after it has”sustained us for millenia” – many would argue the same about grains, particularly wheat, and I would have to say that we’ve only suffered for our reliance on it for the past 10 or 12 thousand years. I’m not sure that simply consuming something for thousands of years makes something safe or healthy, as people have relied on many things for survival throughout history that simply became traditional to eat – not because they were actually good for us – but because we had been doing so for so long.

      I still think many can tolerate milk very well, and even thrive on it as long as it’s raw, and those who have should continue consuming it. Grains, however, are a different story.

      • Lisa N says

        Totally agree. If you don’t believe in Adam and Eve, you may believe that humans have lived without grains, sugar, and milk for 2.5 million years.
        However Chris also points out that just because the ancestors never had it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t, and he also states, as you do, that there is something to be said for raw organic milk from heritage pasture raised animals. I would then ferment that.

  20. Emily Rose says

    It’s a good point to cite that the calcium humans are getting during the Paleolithic era are good enough to sustain the body, considering they are subject to harder and laborious work than we are today.
    It’s great that there’s a huge Calcium content in dairy products but the question really is do you really need that much? I’d say sticking to http://bit.ly/primalpaleo diet gives our body all the nutrients we really need.

  21. Michal Piják, MD says

    Congratulation, great article indeed. I´am of the same opinion like you and attach some posts presented on my FB page on this subject.
    https://www.facebook.com/MichalPijakMDPersonalizedPaleoNutrition

    DON´T BELIEVE STUPID CLAIMS THAT ALKALINE FOODS ARE GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH

    Surprisingly, all those stupid alkaline diets overlook the important role of foods in urine pH.

    If you are healthy, there’s no reason to make special effort to “balance out” acidic foods or take alkaline supplements with the aim to change the pH of your body fluid. However,the type of foods have great influence on urine pH. Healthy urine should be slightly acidic.

    Consumption of alkaline foods leads to permanetly alkaline urine which increases the risk of precipitation of calcium phosphate salts and decreases antibacterial activity of the urine.

    On the other hand, consumption of acidic foods results in very low urine pH, which increases antibacterial activity of the urine but increases the risk of precipitation of urate salts in some persons, such as those with metabolic syndrom.

    In addition, all patients with crystaluria or kidney stones should avoid foods with high content of soluble oxalates. One of the best food for patients with hypercalciuria including both phosphate and oxalate stones is dairy, especially fermented products. Acidogenic dairy foods decrease urine pH, decrease intestinal absorbtion of toxic soluble oxalate salts due to chelating effect of calcium, provide high amount of phosphates, calcium and magnesium,( which increases the solubility of calcium in the urine) and promote colonisation of gut with oxalate degrading bacteria – oxalobacter formigenes.

    DON´T BELIEVE IDIOTIC ACID-ASH HYPOTHESIS: LOW, BUT NOT HIGH URINE pH IS A SIGN OF GOOD HEALTH AND HEALTHY DIET

    Low urine pH and acid excretion do not predict bone fractures or the loss of bone mineral density: a prospective cohort study.
    Fenton TR, Eliasziw M, Tough SC, Lyon AW, Brown JP, Hanley DA.

    BACKGROUND: The acid-ash hypothesis, the alkaline diet, and related products are marketed to the general public. Websites, lay literature, and direct mail marketing encourage people to measure their urine pH to assess their health status and their risk of osteoporosis.The objectives of this study were to determine whether 1) low urine pH, or 2) acid excretion in urine [sulfate + chloride + 1.8x phosphate + organic acids] minus [sodium + potassium + 2x calcium + 2x magnesium mEq] in fasting morning urine predict: a) fragility fractures; and b) five-year change of bone mineral density (BMD) in adults.

    METHODS: Design: Cohort study: the prospective population-based Canadian Multicentre Osteoporosis Study. Multiple logistic regression was used to examine associations between acid excretion (urine pH and urine acid excretion) in fasting morning with the incidence of fractures (6804 person years). Multiple linear regression was used to examine associations between acid excretion with changes in BMD over 5-years at three sites: lumbar spine, femoral neck, and total hip (n = 651). Potential confounders controlled included: age, gender, family history of osteoporosis, physical activity, smoking, calcium intake, vitamin D status, estrogen status, medications, renal function, urine creatinine, body mass index, and change of body mass index.

    RESULTS: There were no associations between either urine pH or acid excretion and either the incidence of fractures or change of BMD after adjustment for confounders.

    CONCLUSION: Urine pH and urine acid excretion do not predict osteoporosis risk.

    DON´T BELIEVE IDIOTIC ACID-ASH HYPOTHESIS: LOW, BUT NOT HIGH URINE pH IS A SIGN OF GOOD HEALTH AND HEALTHY DIET

    Low urine pH and acid excretion do not predict bone fractures or the loss of bone mineral density: a prospective cohort study.
    Fenton TR, Eliasziw M, Tough SC, Lyon AW, Brown JP, Hanley DA.

    BACKGROUND: The acid-ash hypothesis, the alkaline diet, and related products are marketed to the general public. Websites, lay literature, and direct mail marketing encourage people to measure their urine pH to assess their health status and their risk of osteoporosis.The objectives of this study were to determine whether 1) low urine pH, or 2) acid excretion in urine [sulfate + chloride + 1.8x phosphate + organic acids] minus [sodium + potassium + 2x calcium + 2x magnesium mEq] in fasting morning urine predict: a) fragility fractures; and b) five-year change of bone mineral density (BMD) in adults.

    METHODS: Design: Cohort study: the prospective population-based Canadian Multicentre Osteoporosis Study. Multiple logistic regression was used to examine associations between acid excretion (urine pH and urine acid excretion) in fasting morning with the incidence of fractures (6804 person years). Multiple linear regression was used to examine associations between acid excretion with changes in BMD over 5-years at three sites: lumbar spine, femoral neck, and total hip (n = 651). Potential confounders controlled included: age, gender, family history of osteoporosis, physical activity, smoking, calcium intake, vitamin D status, estrogen status, medications, renal function, urine creatinine, body mass index, and change of body mass index.

    RESULTS: There were no associations between either urine pH or acid excretion and either the incidence of fractures or change of BMD after adjustment for confounders.

    CONCLUSION: Urine pH and urine acid excretion do not predict osteoporosis risk.

    PHOSPHATE DECREASES URINE CALCIUM AND INCREASES CALCIUM BALANCE: A META-ANALYSIS OF THE IDIOTIC OSTEOPOROSIS ACID-ASH DIET HYPOTHESIS PROMOTED BY VEGANS AND PALEOROMANTIC MORONS
    Fenton TR, et al.
    Source: Clinical Nutrition, Alberta Health Services, Calgary, AB, Canada. tanisfenton@shaw.ca

    BACKGROUND: The acid-ash hypothesis posits that increased excretion of “acidic” ions derived from the diet, such as phosphate, contributes to net acidic ion excretion, urine calcium excretion, demineralization of bone, and osteoporosis. The public is advised by various media to follow an alkaline diet to lower their acidic ion intakes. The objectives of this meta-analysis were to quantify the contribution of phosphate to bone loss in healthy adult subjects; specifically,
    a) to assess the effect of supplemental dietary phosphate on urine calcium, calcium balance, and markers of bone metabolism; and to assess whether these affects are altered by the
    b) level of calcium intake,
    c) the degree of protonation of the phosphate.

    METHODS: Literature was identified through computerized searches regarding phosphate with surrogate and/or direct markers of bone health, and was assessed for methodological quality. Multiple linear regression analyses, weighted for sample size, were used to combine the study results. Tests of interaction included stratification by calcium intake and degree of protonation of the phosphate supplement.

    RESULTS: Twelve studies including 30 intervention arms manipulated 269 subjects’ phosphate intakes. Three studies reported net acid excretion. All of the meta-analyses demonstrated significant decreases in urine calcium excretion in response to phosphate supplements whether the calcium intake was high or low, regardless of the degree of protonation of the phosphate supplement. None of the meta-analyses revealed lower calcium balance in response to increased phosphate intakes, whether the calcium intake was high or low, or the composition of the phosphate supplement.

    CONCLUSION: All of the findings from this meta-analysis were contrary to the acid ash hypothesis.
    1. Higher phosphate intakes were associated with decreased urine calcium and increased calcium retention.
    2. This meta-analysis did not find evidence that phosphate intake contributes to demineralization of bone or to bone calcium excretion in the urine.
    3. Dietary advice that dairy products, meats, and grains are detrimental to bone health due to “acidic” phosphate content needs reassessment.
    4. There is no evidence that higher phosphate intakes are detrimental to bone health.

    PERSONALLY I THINK, THAT THERE IS INCREASING EVIDENCE AGAINST FLAWED CORDAIN´S THEORY THAT MILK-MEDIATED mTORC1-SIGNALING MAY PLAY IMPORTANT ROLE IN THE INITIATION AND PROGRESSION OF CANCER . Read more about this theory: http://www.nutritionandmetabolism.com/content/9/1/74
    DAIRY PRODUCTS AND CANCER: A GREAT SUMMARY O EVIDENCE AGAINST FLAWED CORDAIN´S THEORY THAT MILK-MEDIATED mTORC1-SIGNALING PLAY IMPORTANT ROLE IN THE INITIATION AND PROGRESSION OF CANER
    Lampe JW. J Am Coll Nutr. 2011 Oct;30(5 Suppl 1):464S-70S.

    Oral BCAA supplementation is associated with reduced incidence of HCC in patients with cirrhosis and seems to prevent liver-related events in patients with Child-Pugh A cirrhosis.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21829025

    Milk Consumption and Bladder Cancer Risk: A Meta-Analysis of Published Epidemiological Studies

    In conclusion, results of this meta-analysis suggested a potential protective effect of milk for bladder cancer, and this relationship varied widely across geographical regions and specific dairy products. Further research is warranted to confirm these findings and elucidate the likely biological mechanisms.
    http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/01635581.2011.614716#.UiRQED9JRbs

    • anna says

      Interesting. I am a recovering … I don’t what exactly.
      Science definitely isn’t the area of my expertise so I have to rely on the opinions of others. Although I didn’t buy into this alkaline theory entirely, I have tried to be more alkaline for the last 3 years. I do have low density and I was always acidic. This worked fine, until I stop looking at the bottle of potassium (which I bought some two years ago) a started to take one pill a day. This was some 4 months ago. Some six weeks ago, I had a bad cold, with bad coughing and everything else, a week later another cold, some day later I was on the verge of yet another cold, and for the last several days, I’ve been sneezing and coughing. It looks like I have a permanent cold. Last week, I had a medical check up which showed that my blood pressure dropped significantly, the lab tests showed that my potassium reached the upper level of the range and my PH is 7. I decided to diagnose myself and concluded that I need more salt than potassium and spend my days licking salt, just like some animals do. If anyone is interested in the remaining potassium pills, I can send them.

    • Michal Piják, MD says

      Matt, with such a logic, you should eat nothing. For example, honey is for bees, seeds are for the reproduction and spread of flowering plants, etc,

  22. Anthony says

    Chris,

    Everytime I go to an organic store and see RAW milk in the fridge (or even RAW kefir), it says clearly that its not for consumption, and seems to be used for bathing purposes.

    It seems that raw milk is dangerous based on the bacteria in there. How come you recommend it still?

  23. Jenn says

    Chris – I’m just curious if they controlled for the presence of K2 in the diet? I thought I was beginning to understand the role of D3 & K2 and that they were both necessary for the body to put the calcium in the right place in the body, otherwise the calcium would be deposited in places like arteries (hardening of the arteries) or soft tissue in the joints (arthritis pain.) That with the D3 & K2 the body can do a whole lot of good with just a little calcium, regardless of the source.

  24. Ed says

    I think the PH analysis is flawed by relying on serum levels.

    For example I serum test pretty normal for magnesium but when I apply topical magnesium in the form of dissolved Magnesium Chloride then I can really tell I have a magnesium deficiency because my muscles and posture are transformed and other healing process are greatly helped.

    The PH of the blood is interesting but shouldn’t the prime concern be tissue PH and benefit.

    It might be the PH diets are beneficial for other reasons than PH like phytonutrients etc. Hard to reconcile the limited science with the observation that PH diets do greatly reduce muscle tension and improve general health. In my case anyway.

  25. SC says

    After many years of high dairy consumption and inhaled asthma steroids I ended up with advanced osteoporosis and 3 broken teeth/root canals and counting. Dairy did nothing to protect my bones from the inhaled steroids, and I believe dairy actually caused calcium excretion in the urine from too much total protein. AND after stopping dairy I was able to get off the steroid. It turns out I had a HIDDEN dairy intolerance which is quite common!!!

  26. Igor says

    Studies showing milk doesn’t make bones stronger.
    1. Feskanich D, Willett WC, Stampfer MJ, Colditz GA. Milk, dietary calcium, and bone fractures in women: a 12-year prospective study. Am J Publ Health. 1997;87:992-997.
    2. Cumming RG, Klineberg RJ. Case-control study of risk factors for hip fractures in the elderly. Am J Epidemiol. 1994;139:493-503.

    And this interesting material:
    http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/calcium-full-story/

    It doesn’t state that milk causes osteoporosis, but it states:

    Lactose Intolerance

    Many people have some degree of lactose intolerance. For them, eating or drinking dairy products causes problems like cramping, bloating, gas, and diarrhea. These symptoms can range from mild to severe. Certain groups are much more likely to have lactose intolerance. For example, 90 percent of Asians, 70 percent of blacks and Native Americans, and 50 percent of Hispanics are lactose intolerant, compared to only about 15 percent of people of Northern European descent.

    High Saturated Fat Content

    Many dairy products are high in saturated fats, and a high saturated fat intake is a risk factor for heart disease. And while it’s true that most dairy products are now available in fat-reduced or nonfat options, the saturated fat that’s removed from dairy products is inevitably consumed by someone, often in the form of premium ice cream, butter, or baked goods.

    Possible Increased Risk of Ovarian Cancer

    High levels of galactose, a sugar released by the digestion of lactose in milk, have been studied as possibly damaging to the ovaries and leading to ovarian cancer.

    Probable Increased Risk of Prostate Cancer

    A diet high in calcium has been implicated as a probable risk factor for prostate cancer. In a Harvard study of male health professionals, men who drank two or more glasses of milk a day were almost twice as likely to develop advanced prostate cancer as those who didn’t drink milk at all.

    ***
    So in any case dairy products come out as unsuitable for human being, unless it’s a 0-3 year old child feeding on milk of a human. Not of a cow, anatomically different animal weighing at least 5 times larger than normal human.

  27. Noah Alexander Azelas says

    “Increased dairy consumption is also consistently associated with lower rates of osteoporosis and better bone health.”

    - How come the countries with the highest consumption of dairy products, have the highest rate of Osteoporosis? In Norway, where I live, it is commonplace, people dying left and right, that is. Due to their foolhardy intake of dairy products.

    Is the body not (physiologically, as well anatomically) 100% herbivorous, or am I mistaken?

    Muscle Atrophy in the elderly, is not unheard of as well, ’tis in fact notorious.

    Surely, this cannot be a mere case of happenstance…
    What ever could be the culprit of this pandemic?

    Buddhist Monks living in rural parts of China, being on a vegetarian diet with little to no dairy, seem to be doing well. For example…

  28. Justin says

    While this is interesting, I’m curious why it is that humans are the only species to consume milk beyond the age of 6 months, and not even from our own species.

    • Noah Alexander Azelas says

      I agree.

      The only way to truly learn the truth, is by carefully studying the anatomy and physiology of the human body. Who knows, maybe this “Chris Kresser” is a representative (or being heavily funded) of the Dairy Industry. Not my intention to presume overmuch, but still…

  29. Ron Brown, Ph.D. says

    Chris’s article refuting the claim that dairy causes osteoporosis unfortunately relies on one research review that fails to take into consideration the difference between acidemia in the blood serum and acidosis in the other body tissues. Ironically, Chris correctly pointed out this difference when he said, “The pH of our blood is maintained in a very tight range,” while also noting, “No doubt we can really mess up our health by eating the wrong things.” The confusion comes from not recognizing the link between acidemia and acidosis. Cow milk which is high in phosphorus, sulfur, and calcium, causes acidosis in the body TISSUES as the acid products formed from phosphorus and sulfur accumulate. However, as Chris correctly pointed out, acidosis is avoided in the BLOOD as the kidneys excrete excess phosphorus, due to a hormone called FGF-23. But Chris is wrong when he says “the bones don’t even come into play in the regulation of our serum pH.” It is well known that the parathyroid glands release calcium from bone into the blood serum when phosphorus intake gets too high, regardless of the amount of calcium already consumed in cow milk. This mechanism explains the mountain of evidence linking dairy intake with osteoporosis in the Western diet. By contrast, acidosis and bone loss is avoided in infants by feeding human milk which is naturally six times lower in phosphorus than cow milk. For more information, see: http://www.bodyfatguide.com/HowDairyProductsCauseOsteoporosis.htm

    • Bartholomew Balonek says

      You state that milk is high in is high in phosphorus, sulfur, and calcium. You mention that the parathyroid glands release calcium from bone into the blood serum when phosphorus intake gets too high, regardless of the amount of calcium already consumed in cow milk. Why is that? I would have thought that in the same way fruit contains fibre to ensure its fructose is not so damaging, the calcium in milk is there to offset the phosphorus content – to provide balance?

  30. Andrea says

    I think the study is interesting, but it misleads the reader into thinking that dairy is good for you. From a TCM perspective, dairy is cold and very phlegm-inducing. It hinders the spleen and impedes one’s ability to digest and process food properly.

    While it may be a myth that milk decreases bone density, I don’t think that means it’s good for you.

  31. Carie Dawn says

    What are these studies that you speak of? Can you give us the sources? And have you seen the Harvard nurses study conducted over 18 years of nearly 75,000 post-menopausal women where they determined that milk does NOT reduce risk of hip fractures? (http://m.ajcn.nutrition.org/content/77/2/504.short)
    Me thinks you may be funded by the dairy industry! If not, you should have no problem sharing your sources.

  32. Lynne Gray says

    I can’t stress the importance of “raw dairy” from grass fed animals given no antibiotics or growth hormones. The commercial dairy that most consume is nothing more than another processed food. Get real everyone, that’s “real milk”. I grew up on processed food including processed dairy. I had mucus and post nasal drip almost my entire 74 years. Six years ago I switched to raw dairy and within a year I had no more nasal congestion of any kind. For the first time in my life I know what sinuses are supposed to feel like. I finally can breathe. I have the bone density of a 35 year old.

    • peter says

      Anecdotes are no substitute for science. Raw dairy has all the contaminents of pasteurised, only with the added threat of listeria poisoning.

  33. James says

    Hi Chris,

    What about the idea that milk products increase mucous production. Is that a stricly individual allergic reaction or is it pretty common and occurs only with pasteurized milk? Also with fermented products, pasteurized or not?

  34. peter says

    As someone who has been involved in nutrition for over 30 years I can’t but scoff at the poorly sourced nature of this article. A couple of contrary studies doesn’t really stack up to the mountain of studies, conclusions and related statistics .
    http://milk.elehost.com/html/osteoporosis.html
    There is no net benefit to the human body from consuming dairy. And there is a definite link between the countries with the highest dairy consumption in that they all have the highest levels of bone diseases.

    Hardly surprising – the gene that enables lactose tolerance is a medeival mutation from northern Europe. This explains why 75% of the world’s population are lactose intolerant. And why intolerance to lactose has no deleterious effect on bone health.

    So even if you’re not grossed out by the treatment of dairy cows and their calves, even if you can handle the approved pus levels in milk, you can’t deny that on balance dairy protein and dairy calcium are toxic. 2 recent studies compared it to smoking in terms of health damage.

    • Bartholomew Balonek says

      Forgive me Peter, but you sound almost angry about the consumption of dairy (‘grossed out’).
      Looking at the subject objectively, the study you are referring to has concluded that an ESTIMATE of 75% of adults worldwide show SOME decrease in lactase activity during adulthood. That’s not the same as saying 75% of the world is lactose intolerant.
      As a vegan, I’d rather people don’t consume dairy for personal reasons, but I am objective about it. I have 2 almost centarian grandmothers walking around who have drank milk in cereal every day.
      Studies also show that in those countries you mention, too much preformed vitamin A may be the reason for bone fractures. There are too many factors to consider to simply label dairy as the bad guy.

  35. says

    It’s all very interesting, but there are so many factors, is it not important to remember not to ‘micro manage’ our nutrition or ‘micro investigate’ these things in isolation? The fact to remember is that we are the only species to consume milk from another species and the only species to consume it into adulthood. Milk is designed to give nutrition to babies/young of the SAME species. It is known to cause allergies and a host of other human symptoms are associated with it, which were not seen it the San Bushman style Paleo eaters… (who were designed to eat honey for example but only 4lbs a YEAR … ref comment earlier saying if milk is for babies then honey is for bees ….. not!) Which must make you go “Hmmmm….” and would save us all a lot of breath! xx

  36. Lance says

    I’m not so sure that Chris didn’t drop the ball in this article. I believe that even though the article may be “technically” correct, it is somewhat misleading or inconclusive.

    First off, whenever people talk about “milk” they automatically refer to pasteurized milk. And, from everything I have read (from many, many different sources), it appears that pasteurized milk has no important health benefits at all. And, even if it were to have some unnamed benefit, the drawback are so many they overshadow any potential benefit from the calcium it contains.

    I’m not arguing that commercial milk (pasteurized, homogenized from cows fed grains, bgh, and antibiotics) leads to osteoporosis, I’m simply challenging the claim that “dairy probably is good for your bones after all” (unless we are discussing raw milk coming from pastured cows).

    Once again the food industry has turned a healthy food into an unhealthy product (for the sake of profit).

    Most milk comes from cows that are fed genetically modified soybean meal and growth hormones to increase production. Both increase a cow’s risk of developing mastitis, liver problems, and pituitary gland problems, leading to frequent doses of antibiotics to curb the subsequent infections.

    Then, the milk is pasteurized which destroys many vitamins, healthy bacteria, and denatures many proteins. Pasteurization also destroys enzymes which enable the body to digest the milk and absorb the calcium.

    Then, for good measure, the milk is homogenized which allows a protein enzyme called xanthine oxidase to be absorbed directly into the blood stream. There is some very compelling research demonstrating clear associations with this absorbed enzyme and increased risks of heart disease.

    Cow’s milk is the number one allergic food in this country. It has been well documented as a cause in diarrhea, cramps, bloating, gas, gastrointestinal bleeding, iron-deficiency anemia, skin rashes, atherosclerosis, and acne.
    It is the primary cause of recurrent ear infections in children. It has also been linked to insulin dependent diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, infertility, and leukemia.
    Most of these ill effects are the result of the “processing”, not milk (in itself). Still, when someone considers that most milk sold/consumed in this country has been through this unhealthy processing, I’m not sure they could claim claim that dairy is probably good for you bones.

  37. Lani says

    I am always seeking to keep my knowledge base up-to-date with regards to nutrition. I used to teach college nutrition and I am personally passionate about it. Thankfully, there is more impetus now to research nutrition, which many lay people do not realize is an incredibly complex science.

    Here is my thought on milk. I think if we are to consume dairy, typically a fermented form is better for us than drinking lots of milk. A huge portion of our population is intolerant to milk (but not always intolerant to fermented sources of dairy). In reference to milk NOT being the ideal bone building food we all have been told it was as kids (i.e. possib;e contributor to osteoporosis), the 12 year Harvard nurses study actually showed a slight increase of hip fractures in heavy milk drinkers compared to those who were not. Now here is my thought, high levels of consumed animal protein can lead to calcium reduction in the bones. Since milk is a source of animal protein, it may contribute to bone loss when a person’s diet is excessively high in animal protein overall. But given that so many people are intolerant of milk, evolutionarily, we are provided with a large assortment of non animal high calcium foods. Some studies show that vitamin D is a much more important factor than consuming large amounts of calcium. So again I think we the key ideas of moderation (e.g. meat/dairy) and ensuring we get sun and vit D as well as increased physical activity, eating lots of dark leafy greens – not necessarily drinking lots of milk, are key factors in bone strength.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1380936/pdf/amjph00505-0106.pdf

  38. sygun says

    Dairy is tolerated well by those who are a blood type B ….. I know from own personal health issues that eating any dairy I immediately develop mucus and inflamation in the bones of my hands and feet l am an O blood type and dairy is a killer for blood type A people
    See Dr Peter D’Adamo’s books EAT RITE FOR YOUR BLOOD TYPE … A blood types should be vegetarians ……… it works !!!! no trial and error using this system !!!!!!

    • R. says

      Enough with this blood types nonsense.

      It is based on the sole unfounded assumption that one should eat the same regimen as when the blood gene mutation occured. Then if I’m blue eyed should I eat dairy and meat because this mutation appeared at a certain time in northern Europe and blah blah blah?
      And if I’m black I suppose I should only be feeding on bananas and manioc?

      This is all complete pseudoscience bullshit. So stop spreading it. Thanks.

      • Honora says

        Funnily enough, Manioc comes from South America. It is very bad for depleting soil and incredibly easy to grow. It needs a lot of processing such as fermenting or soaking to render it safe to eat.

  39. Rachel says

    So the video that has been going around where the milk is poured into the coca-cola bottle and shows what it looks like after a couple hours, it was like sand/dirt at the bottom of the bottle and a clear yellowish liquid at top separate from the sediment….What does that mean….?There was no article ,if I remember correctly, to explain what your seeing. So I wonder what it means?

  40. Peggy says

    What about the effects of pasteurization on the absorbability of calcium from dairy? My understanding is that a substance is formed from the high heat pasteurization that binds the calcium, preventing its absorption. A frequent comment is that North Americans have the highest consumption of dairy and the highest rates of osteoporosis in the world. Is this true, and can it be linked to the heating of the milk?

    Obviously, raw is the ideal way around this, but not everyone is willing to go raw or has access to it.

  41. TESSA says

    My mother had Osteoporosis, and because I have it in my lower back (I am in my 60′s) I have been advised to take calcium citrate supplements every day. Is this counter productive, bearing in mind previous comments? If so, what would you advise?

  42. Don says

    But aren’t the countries with the highest per capita rate of dairy consumption also the ones with the highest rate of osteoporosis?

  43. Louis says

    “Other studies show that phosphate in general – not just from milk – increases calcium retention and improves bone health. (2) Increased dairy consumption is also consistently associated with lower rates of osteoporosis and better bone health.”

    The study says that more calcium was excreted, not retained, with milk. And what are the studies that consistently associate dairy consumption with lower rates of osteoporosis?

  44. Pam says

    I found all of the information very interesting. I can tell you I feel better on a low acid diet, but I have to agree. I my blood is acidic. Dr. did not seem to care. It does worry me as to why that has not changed.

  45. Evan E says

    Remember Weston Price found populations that consumed lots of dairy and no ill health was noted (quite the opposite). This was raw dairy of course from healthy ruminants. Whatever ills can be blamed on dairy I think tie in with its adulteration. Homogenization creates abnormally small fat molecules that some speculate can bypass gut barriers. Pasteurization of course destroys fragile components, especially ultra-pasteurized, which Mark MacAfee then calls the milk ‘paint thinner’…ever notice the shelf life of ultra pasteurized milk products? And of course added hormones and antibiotics and grain fed/sickly cattle no doubt create more issues still.

    Try some raw Jersey cow milk and take note of your body’s response (start slow if you have been off dairy).

    • Honora says

      Jersey cow’s milk is a good suggestion as it is very likely free from the mutation found in some European breeds such as Friesian/Holstein or Ayrshire cows – Alpha 1 Beta Casomorphin. This ‘devil in the milk’ is a real trouble-maker, implicated in heart disease, autoimmune disease and plenty of other ills.

      • Fiona says

        I’m surprised everyone is talking about different kinds of cow’s milk: I find ewe’s milk yoghourt and cheese (Spanish Manchego, for instance) much better for me than cow’s milk of any sort. This is not from the point of view of osteoporosis but to avoid overproduction of mucus as a singer.

  46. Mike says

    Something that’s almost nearly always missing in the analysis of dairy, is whether the good outweighs the bad.

    I used to love dairy. I delivered it, I drank litres of it every day, and I had lots of health problems. I gave it up, and the health problems went away. I started researching.

    The good? It’s got some nutrients, but because it’s pasteurised, they’re mostly gone. It’s got calcium, but we just don’t need much calcium – that’s a push from the dairy industry because our bones are largely calcium – a very weak connection. It’s got protein, but really unless we’re doing resistance training we don’t need much of that either. So yeah, there’s some good stuff.

    The bad? Oh man, the list is endless. So many links to things like osteoporosis, cancer, arteriosclerosis, asthma, acne, diabetes, hypothyroidism, calcium deposits in joints and organs.. seriously, there’s just so much bad news for dairy, that you’re playing Russian Roulette.

    Good luck in your choices.

  47. Matthew says

    It’s strange that otherwise intelligent human beings need to be informed of this obvious fact, but: You are not a baby cow.

    Cows produce milk to feed their babies. There is no reason for adult humans to drink breast milk from another animal. It’s illogical, unhealthy, and, frankly, weird.

    The human body is not designed to consume the breast milk of another animal. The healthiest form of breast milk for humans is from our own species. But we tend to leave that for the babies. So let’s offer other animals the same decency.

    Plant milk is healthier, and there is no confusion about whether or not it’s good for us. Almond milk, hemp milk, rice milk, organic soy milk… the options are numerous and provide higher levels of essential vitamins than cow milk.

  48. says

    I’d like to see the pH test done on the blood serum of long term Raw Fruitarian diet and Cooked Meat and Potato diet groups an hour or so after a meal. I’d bet the farm the results would be quite different from the posted narrow range spoken of above.

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