Bones provide rigid structure and support for the rest of the body. Muscles and tendons attach to them, and they provide protection for organs. Bones are the storehouse for the body's supply of calcium. When your calcium levels are low, you're at an increased risk for osteoporosis, which is characterized by fragile, brittle bones. Milk and other dairy products are readily available sources of calcium and considered to be good for the bones.
Role of Calcium in Bone Growth
Calcium is a mineral essential for proper bone formation and growth, according to MedlinePlus. Calcium is also needed for blood clotting, healthy teeth and for the heart, nerves and muscles to function properly. In childhood, calcium is needed for bones to develop and grow strong; in adulthood, dietary calcium is needed to offset the amount of calcium being reabsorbed back into the body from the bones. Calcium cannot be produced by the body, so it must be obtained through the diet.
Dietary Calcium for the Bones
It is important to consume an adequate amount of calcium and vitamin D every day to ensure overall bone health. Vitamin D is needed to facilitate absorption of dietary calcium. According to the New York State Department of Public Health, 99 percent of the body's total calcium is stored in the bones and teeth. If the diet does not contain enough calcium, the body will release some of its stored calcium from the bones, which can leave the bones weak. Milk is an excellent source of dietary calcium.
Types of Milk Products Containing Calcium
Women need 1,000 milligrams of calcium daily through the diet, according to MedlinePlus. Milk and other dairy products contain calcium in a form easily absorbed and used by the body. Dairy products containing calcium include milk, yogurt and cheese. While whole milk, containing 4 percent milk fat, is recommended for children under 2; adults can obtain just as much calcium by drinking lower-fat milk, including 1 or 2 percent milk and skim milk, because calcium is not contained in the fat portion. Milk contains added vitamin D, also needed for optimal bone health.
Milk as a Primary Source of Calcium
Milk's use as the primary source of dietary calcium has been hotly contested, according to Harvard School of Public Health. Those in the pro-milk camp believe drinking the recommended three glasses a day helps prevent bone fracture because of osteoporosis later in life. Those who argue against it feel consuming a lot of milk does not help reduce the amount of fractures suffered yearly because of osteoporosis, but can increase the risks for heart disease and some cancers.
It is imperative to consume enough calcium throughout the entire lifetime in order to keep bones strong and reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis. Getting enough calcium along with vitamin D and exercise provide an excellent defense against developing osteoporosis, according to Harvard School of Public Health. If consumed in moderate amounts of two to three glasses per day, milk products can help keep bones strong, may help reduce blood pressure and provide defense against colon cancer. So, it seems milk does do the body good.
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