Sunday, March 29, 2015

Milk, health and Hawai`i

Lost in the battles over whether a dairy ought to be established on south Kauai pastures is the value of cow’s milk in human nutrition.

Milk has picked up a couple of gold stars in recent months, confirming once again that mom was right when she told you to drink it. But what perhaps hasn’t been clear is the importance of milk consumption in older adults.

Milk is important for supporting levels of anti-oxidants in the body, according to University of Kansas Medical Center researchers In-Young Choi, and Debra Sullivan. Their research was published in February 2015 The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

 Choi said recent milk consumption was correlated with high levels of the brain anti-oxidant glutathione, which he said may help reduce oxidative stress that can cause diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinsons.

The editors of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition  cited the study as revealing "a provocative new benefit of the consumption of milk in older individuals." 

An October 2014 study found that replacement milks like those from soy, nuts and even goats do not provide the vitamin D levels of cow’s milk. Kids who drink the alternative milks are twice as likely to have low Vitamin D levels, said researchers from the Canadian St. Michael’s Hospital. The work was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

"Children drinking only non-cow's milk were more than twice as likely to be vitamin D deficient as children drinking only cow's milk," said St. Michael’s pediatrician Jonathon Maguire. "Among children who drank non-cow's milk, every additional cup of non-cow's milk was associated with a five per cent drop in vitamin D levels per month."

Vitamin D deficiency is associated with a variety of bone weakness diseases.  Vitamin D supplements are an alternate means of getting the nutrient, as are certain fish. Although sun exposure can help with Vitamin D levels, there have been cases of Vitamin D deficiency even in sunny Hawai`i.

© Jan TenBruggencate 2015


Anonymous said...

Jan, I like your blog but disagree with you on this one. Did you know that humans are the only mammals that continue to consume milk after nursing, and we do so from another species! Aside from drinking cows milk, there are other ways to get Vitamin D, such as through supplements, exposure to sunlight (not a problem in Hawaii, unless you live in Hilo), fatty fish like salmon and tuna, mushrooms, fortified milk & orange juice, eggs and supplements. Getting regular exercise also helps strengthen bones and prevent osteoporosis. There are other sources for human’s to get calcium as well, such as from greens (collards & kale), sardines, broccoli, salmon, sardines, etc.

Moreover there is also a growing body of evidence to support that drinking cow’s milk is actually NOT healthy for you and leads to increased risk of cancer, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. I don’t have a list of all the studies, but several studies including one by Harvard, are mentioned in this NY Times article written by a doctor:

The Cleveland Clinic, one of our nation’s top ranked hospitals and #1 for their Heart and Vascular Institute, also supports that consuming cow’s milk is in fact harmful to your health.

Jan T said...

Good points. I agree with almost everything you say. The article you cite addresses bone density and little else. The reason I wrote the article is that the new research cited--since the NYTimes article was published--appears to contradict the common wisdom that adults should eschew cow's milk. As with other issues, black and white are not useful colors and absolute pronouncements are often inadequate. The world is painted in shades of gray.