Milk products and the role they play in a healthy diet

December 10th, 2015

An article questioning milk products and the role they play in a healthy diet, as well as our partnerships, was recently published.

In the article, the reporter writes that dairy is not especially important if you want to have a healthy diet and refers to other sources of calcium in the diet. While it’s true that calcium can be found in other foods, the reality is that milk and other milk products, such as yogurt and cheese, are still the leading contributors of calcium and vitamin D in the diets of Canadians. Milk products provide up to 16 essential nutrients, including bone-building phosphorus, magnesium and protein. Based on Statistics Canada and Health Canada’s analysis (CCHS 2004), the vast majority of Canadians are not meeting the minimum recommendations for milk products.

The article also inappropriately states the scientific evidence in two important topics for the health of Canadians – bone health and prostate cancer.

It refers to a recent article published in the British Medical Journal and rightly points that this study did not show a reduced fracture risk in older adults. What it fails to mention is that in the studied group (over 50 years old), it is likely already too late to prevent fractures with diet only. Yet, studies report an improvement of bone mass with more milk, milk products and calcium in the diet. Knowing that we normally lose bone mass as we age, this result should be seen as good news. As parents, we should be even more concerned about the inadequate diet of our children, teens and young adults who need to maximize their bone health when it really makes a huge difference.

As for prostate cancer, while some studies have linked a high consumption of milk products and/or calcium to an increased risk, a review of the overall scientific literature to date does not support limiting milk or milk products to reduce the risk of any type of cancer. This is the most recent position of the World Cancer Research Fund, the leading international authority on nutrition and cancer. In fact, they even point to a probable risk reduction of colorectal cancer with the consumption of milk.

Lastly, Canadian dairy farmers are very proud of the high-quality, nutrient-rich milk they produce and they strongly believe that it can play an important role in a balanced, healthy diet. As such, we choose partners and sponsorship opportunities that allow us to talk to Canadians about milk products’ wholesomeness, always in the context of current nutrition recommendations, never as some magic food. We are proud to support these partners and their dedication to supporting Canadians’ health and well-being.

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