Quick, name the health benefits of milk. If you said strong bones and teeth, you’re right—but there are plenty of other reasons to drink milk as well! Read on to learn more about these nine surprising benefits of milk and vitamins..
Is Milk Actually Good For You?
If you’re not a full-fledged dairy enthusiast, that might surprise you. But if you’re getting regular servings of low-fat or fat-free milk and yogurt every day, that could be good for your body as well as your waistline. Not convinced? Here are nine surprising health benefits to drinking enough milk each day
Drinking milk and eating yogurt may help you burn fat. A study in The Journal of Nutrition found that consuming calcium-rich dairy foods, such as low-fat yogurt or skim milk, helps to increase fat breakdown and decrease body fat levels. Other research has shown that dairy products can help us eat fewer calories each day. In one Harvard University study, researchers found that women who drank more than three servings of low-fat dairy foods per day lost nearly 4 pounds more than those who didn’t.
Build Stronger Bones
Drinking milk and eating dairy foods can strengthen your bones. Your body gets most of its calcium from calcium-rich foods such as milk, yogurt, and cheese. As you age, your body loses calcium, so drinking milk can help you maintain strong bones throughout life. Adults should consume 3 cups (700 milliliters) of low-fat or fat-free milk daily to prevent bone fractures as they age. Pregnant women should drink 3 to 4 cups (700 to 1 liter) a day.
It can also play a role in keeping your bones healthy if you already have osteoporosis. Calcium works in conjunction with vitamin D to promote bone health, and vitamin D may improve how well your body absorbs calcium. If you’re lactose intolerant, you still can build stronger bones because all dairy products provide some calcium. However, many nondairy foods and drinks also contain calcium, so check food labels for details on serving sizes and amounts of various nutrients.
Reduce Painful Joints
Whether you have arthritis or osteoporosis, drinking three glasses of milk a day can reduce painful joints and help improve joint mobility. Arthritis is an inflammatory condition that occurs when your joints swell up and become inflamed due to injury or overuse. Drinking two cups (16 ounces) per day will also help lessen pain associated with osteoporosis, a disease that causes weak and brittle bones in both men and women.
If you have osteoporosis, milk can also help reduce your risk of bone fractures. In fact, a University of Massachusetts Medical School study found that drinking three cups (48 ounces) per day was associated with a 65 percent decrease in hip fracture risk. For those with existing arthritic conditions, milk can reduce swelling and inflammation as well as provide pain relief by carrying these nutrients to your body’s cells.
Although we normally think of milk as a calcium source, recent research suggests that people who drink more than three glasses a day may also have healthier gums. This isn’t just due to its high calcium content but to other vitamins and nutrients present in whole milk as well. One study found that people who drank two or more glasses daily were 40 percent less likely to develop gum disease.
The natural sugars in milk also help to strengthen teeth by encouraging salivary flow, which helps wash away bacteria that can lead to tooth decay. This makes it a great drink for children and adults alike.
Recent research has found that those who get less than 600 IUs a day may be putting themselves at higher risk for upper respiratory tract infections, like bronchitis and pneumonia. It’s important to note that severe vitamin D deficiency can cause rickets, a disease characterized by weak bones in children, as well as osteomalacia in adults, which causes muscle weakness and pain.
Boost Immune System
Studies have shown that having at least three servings a day of fat-free or low-fat dairy can reduce your risk for colds and flu by as much as 50 percent. Fat-free and low-fat milk is an excellent source of protein, providing eight grams per cup. While it’s always good to get protein from many sources, there’s something about cow’s milk that may make it particularly effective for muscle recovery and immune system support.
To make sure you’re getting enough protein, add low-fat or fat-free milk to your diet. You’ll get eight grams of protein in just one cup.
However, to maintain its immune-boosting properties, avoid cooking with your milk. Instead, drink it at room temperature or slightly chilled and add ice for an extra boost. Then try these 10 immunity boosting recipes!
Drinking milk is associated with a longer life and an overall healthier lifestyle. A study published in BMJ found that men who drank 3 or more glasses of milk a day lived 13% longer than men who didn’t drink milk and yes this is the Benefits of Milk. For women, that number jumps to 16%. Another long-term study followed 50,000 adults over 11 years, also concluding that milk drinkers have lower mortality rates than their non-milk drinking counterparts.
Another study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, found that women who consumed at least 3 servings of low-fat dairy per day had a 15% lower risk of death than those who didn’t. This result is significant considering that most adults don’t consume even 2 servings per day. For men, consuming higher amounts wasn’t associated with lowered mortality rates. The same study linked whole-fat dairy consumption to an 18% lower risk for death—but it was only true for women.
While milk is often thought of as primarily a source of calcium and vitamin D, drinking it can provide many other benefits. For example, if you suffer from acid reflux or ulcers, try drinking one glass of milk per day to ease your symptoms. It’s also great for maintaining healthy skin, hair and nails.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that adults get at least three cups of dairy per day, whether from whole milk, low-fat or fat-free varieties. That’s because even skim milk contains a high amount of protein, calcium and vitamin D. The fats in whole milk can even help you feel full for longer periods between meals.
Vitamins In Milk
Everyone knows milk is good for you, but many people don’t realize that one serving provides most of your daily vitamin D requirement. Vitamin D plays a role in bone health, heart health and immune function. According to a recent Harvard study, men who drank three or more glasses per day had a 20 percent lower risk of type 2 diabetes than those who drank less than one glass per week.
There’s no doubt about it: milk is a nutritional powerhouse that can help you meet your daily nutritional needs, including calcium, potassium and vitamin D. The right nutrients at every meal can help reduce your risk for chronic diseases and provide you with more energy to keep up with your busy day.
Keep Eyes Healthy
Calcium plays a role in reducing inflammation, particularly in your eyes. Getting enough calcium can help combat conditions like age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which causes blurred vision and blindness. In one study published in Eye , AMD patients who consumed more than 1,200 milligrams of calcium per day had a 42 percent lower risk of progression to advanced stages of AMD than people who consumed less than 600 milligrams per day.
Calcium is also helpful for people who suffer from glaucoma, a condition that damages your optic nerve and may eventually lead to blindness. The Nurses’ Health Study found that women who consumed 1,400 milligrams of calcium per day reduced their risk of glaucoma by 33 percent compared to women who consumed 600 milligrams or less.