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Does Dairy Cause Osteoporosis?


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milk causes osteoporosis, dairy and osteoporosis
Healthy bones are integral to a healthy life. istock.com/feellife

I 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.

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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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Join the conversation

  1. 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.

  2. 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?

    And do you think too much saturated fat is bad for bone health?

    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)?

    • 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

  3. 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

    • 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.

  4. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

    • 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!

  5. Stopped milk, got rid of stuffed nose
    trying to introduce goat cheese with no bad effects, butter is no problem

    • 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

    • 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!

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


    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”

    • 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.

      • 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!

        • 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.”

          • 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.

  7. 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).

    • “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.

      • 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

        • 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.

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

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

    • 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!

  8. 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 🙂

    • @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.

  9. 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. . .

    • 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.

      • I thought it was because cats were lactose intolerant to cow milk and raw milk contains lactase.

  10. 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?

    • 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.

      • 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

  11. 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.”

  12. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

        • 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.

        • Eliminating dairy does not tell someone what is happening with their bones.

          I suggest learning the status of your bones currently and then eliminate dairy for six weeks followed by another test of your bone status.

          Personally, I have very, very small amounts of dairy and have strong bones but it could be the exercise I do or the K2 (natto and supplements ) so each individual should work on what works for them by using tests.

    • 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.

      • 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.

        • 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.

      • 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.

      • To me, the fact that some cultures have people that are over 100 years old with strong bones and clear arteries is evidence that what they have in common is probably a good thing for humans to be doing.
        What the five Blue Zones have in common is consuming little meat and dairy while large (80% +) of calories from whole plant-based foods.

    • 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!

      • Yes, and the important point in Dr. Price’s research of dairy/grain eaters is that they consumed these Neolithic foods FERMENTED!

      • “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.

        • Many have criticized the China Study but that aside, the five Blue Zones containing a larger percentage of people healthy at 100+ show the same common threads, little dairy and meat, 80% + of calories from whole plant-based foods.
          Long after we are gone maybe science will have something clearer but I am satisfied and other studies have not proved to me anything contrary.

  13. 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. 🙂

  14. 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.

    • 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.

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

      • 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.

      • 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…

        • 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)!

          • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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)?

  15. 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.

  16. Great article. Yet another thing Lauren Cordain got wrong in his original book. The Paleo Diet. Maybe someone should send h a link to this Artie!

    • There is a company in Australia that sells A2 milk, it is widely available in supermarkets

      • 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

  17. 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 🙂

    • 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.

      • 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).

        • “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.

          • 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.

            • 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.

          • 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!

          • That does not explain why some cultures like the Okinawans and Japanese do so well without dairy…

      • 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?

        • 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.

        • 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!

        • 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.

      • 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.

  18. 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.

    • 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 (?)

    • If this article clarified anything for you then you better do more research…
      Drop dairy and get more calcium, D3 and K2 and you will have strong bones and maybe clear arteries.

    • You must have read a different article, I did not see anything clarified in this one!

      Instead of trying to look at the ins and outs which are far from known look at the long-living cultures to see what they consume while aging with strong bones and clear arteries.
      The top five I looked where there are far more of the population over 100 and active have consumed little dairy and meat. No processed foods to speak of but plenty of whole plant-based foods, including grains.

      Science is likely 100 years away from understanding what excessive protein does to the body. Given the vast amounts of money spent by dairy, meat and egg industries we are a long way from knowing the truth.

      There is no more dependable data available than those living today who are over 100 years old and healthy.

      • Hi Richard,

        Why do you think excess protein would be the cause of the problems we know, and how do you defin “excess” ?
        I would first think of blaming trans fat, sat fat, refined sugars, sodas and juices, bacon and charcuterie, most people not drinking enough water, air & water pollution, social stress and of course lack of exercise and CAFO breeding and everything that comes with it (hormones, antibiotics etc.)
        If I’m not mistaken the guess that excess protein would be harmful if precisely the “acidification” hypothesis addressed in this article and which I have seen questioned in various places.
        Specifically, do you mean just “protein” or “animal protein” ?
        Nearly everyone agrees red meat intake should be pretty low, and you should avoid deli meat most of the time.
        But I think one does really have to be a “meatosaur” to really eat “excess” chicken for example which is considered to be one of the best sources of protein avalaible. Providing your chicken is on top of that organic, I believe you should be safe. Same for a fish that doesn’t concentrate too high level of metals, like salmon (and unlike tuna)

        What do you think ?

        • It is highly likely that you will only consume excess animal protein given the amount in plants. There are many studies indicating the harm done by excess animal protein, usually measured about 100gr daily.
          However, as I have repeated many times….the thing to look at are the long-lived cultures like Okinawan and others that consume over 80% of their calories consuming whole plant-based foods. Little meat and dairy got many of those people to live over 100 years with strong bones and clear arteries. I find the Blue Zones to be much more indicative of what I want to follow rather than waiting another fifty years to get final answers on milk, eggs, red meat…

          • Yeah, but what I was trying to say is that 1) excess protein is the least of our concern, 2) you can’t express general rules about nutrition without looking at who you are talking, which means you just can’t make general rules at all, especially about things that are highly unclear and heatily debated such as whether high protein consumption is a problem or not.

            Vegetarians thought for decades that algae contained vitamin B12… until new analysis methods found the fairest part of it were only analogs that the body could not use.
            “Salt is bad”… but many elderly suffer from dehydratation due to lack of sodium in the blood.
            The same is true for protein. An american male with over 100gr. protein is probably in excess. The european average protein intake is already about 10gr lower which is huge. An european woman is fairly likely to lack protein, fat, salt, and generally speaking balanced macronutrients.
            Someone eating 5 yogurts, 2 l. of milk and 200 gr. of cheddar per day is very likely to have excess calcium and salt and animal protein and casein. That is for sure.

            But of you begin to scare the shit out of people about the dangers of excess calcium, you’ll have many people completely shy away from dairy.
            Unfortunately, the plants we consume are not calcium rich at all. It’s very likely our ancestors got their calcium by eating bones, even if they didn’t eat that much of it.
            If someone gets scared and starts eating no dairy at all, who knows how it will affect his health? Not you…
            I work in the academic world. I’ve seen how research is actually made; sometimes it’s serious, sometimes it’s just a big joke.

            To rephrase your saying, I believe science is light years away from understanding anything solid about nutrition.
            A few studies about the “blue zones” can give hint about how to live and eat (yeah, you forgot the first part: everyday activity, healthy human relationships, trust in the future… Sardinians don’t think about how much proteins are in their dishes) but they don’t really help to understand how it all works.

            If you know a little statistics, you quickly understand that 95% of the research (which is mostly made by 23-year old Phds) is at best statistically not THAT significative, and a big third is just plain artistic blur.
            So my point is
            1) We don’t know sh*t, so don’t we try to sound like we know the truth
            2) Most importantly, every small bit of knowledge we have (like, “too much this is bad”) can *only* refer to a certain type of public, which are the people at risk;
            when someone says : “hey everyone!! stop eating saturated fat and cholesterol! heart disease blah blah”,

            who stops eating sat fat and cholesterol? Women and men who are the only ones already paying attention to the quality of what they eat, and are are now at risk of too low cholesterol consumption.

            Who doesn’t care and continues eating fries with fried chicken and cola? People already consuming too much sat and trans fat and sugar and proteins.

            So, back to my main point which fortunately you will actually try to adress this time:
            Maybe excess protein really is a problem in occidental diet.
            Simply, if it is, it is millions light years away from being the most important problem.
            Many others would come first, once again :
            1) sodas, sugars, high-fructose syrup, glucose-fructose, etc., aspartame;
            2) lack of exercise, water deficiency
            3) social stress, unemployment
            4) water pollution, air pollution, food additives, hormones, antibiotics
            5) trans fat
            6) salt
            7) excess sat fat and cholesterol
            8) “magic pill” mentality, too much attention given to the normal occasional dysfunctions of the body, lack of imagination, of purpose, gradual disappearance of old life guidelines based on religion
            and *maybe* if I’m in good mood under 9) i could be listing “excess animal protein”.
            Even though, I wish to remind you that the Sardinians, which are in the “Blue Zones”, tend to enjoy their sheep cheese.
            Ohmygod!! animal protein and dairy at the same time! How can they beyond 100 years old? How unfair.

            Serioulsy speaking, even with Atkins or Dukan, which are terrible, terrible diets to be followed more than, like, two weeks at a maximum without medical overview, the problems don’t arise from excess protein or animal protein for the difference it makes, but from the lack of everything else, especially carbs tha lack of which produce acetone.

            Every month we hear of an important molecule in that legume, or in that fish, or in that meat.
            How long until someone shows up with a research (fake or accurate) which shows that everything we’ve hold for true is now obsolete?

            Implying that every single animal protein that you eat is an excess protein is a cultist thing in exactly the same way that saying that Atkins without medical overview is safe is a cultist thing.
            Of course, those of the Paleos who say that all starch including rice, quinoa, oats and potato are bad are cultists as well. At this very moment there may be tens of thousands of people producing acetone in their bodies because of an inadequate Paleo or vegetarian diet with too little carb

            Protein is really the least of our concern. It’s super hard to get less than enough, and it’s pretty hard to get too much.
            On the contrary, it’s super easy to get too less or too much carbs, or fat, or vitamins.