A nutritionist has told the Mail Online newspaper that cutting out dairy products ‘increases the risk of serious health problems like osteoporosis later in life’.
In a segment putting forward ‘the case against the vegan diet’, London-based practitioner Rob Hobson told the publication that dairy is ‘an important source of several key nutrients’.
He added: “Cutting out on the foods reduces the intake of calcium and iodine – raising the risk of deficiencies.
“Our bones continue to grow until we reach our mid-thirties and during this time it’s important to make sure diets contain enough calcium.”
But experts at Viva! Health have denied claims that cutting out dairy will lead to poor bone health.
According to the organization: “The role calcium plays in bone health is the hook the dairy industry uses to encourage parents to feed their children increasing amounts of dairy products.
“We have been repeatedly sold the line that cow’s milk and dairy foods are the best source of calcium.
“However, while calcium remains important for bone health, it could be that focusing on achieving high levels of calcium (above recommended intakes) has little benefit and may even cause us to neglect other lifestyle factors that could offer greater benefits.”
Exercise is one lifestyle factor the organization promotes for bone health. It also offers advice on plant sources of calcium, which include collards, broccoli, and kale.
According to Viva!, there are a number of studies which investigate the effects of cow’s milk and calcium in relation to bone health.
The organization says: “The Harvard Nurses’ Health study examined whether higher intakes of milk can reduce the risk of osteoporotic fractures.
“The study observed over 75,000 women for 12 years and concluded that increasing milk consumption did not confer a protective effect against hip or forearm fracture.
“In fact, the 1997 study found that an increased calcium intake from dairy foods was associated with a higher risk of fracture.
“They concluded that their results do not support the hypothesis that higher consumption of milk or other food sources of calcium by adult women protects against hip or forearm fractures (Feskanich et al., 1997).”
Some experts say consuming a high level of fruits and vegetables offers protection against osteoporosis.
According to the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine: “Researchers at the University of Surrey, UK, explored the association between fruit and vegetable intakes and bone mineral status in a cross-sectional study including participants from five age and sex cohorts (adolescent boys and girls, young women and older men and women).
“Fruit and vegetable intake was positively associated with increased total body bone mineral density and bone mineral content in adolescent girls and boys.
“In older women a positive association was found between bone mineral content and fruit intake.
“Based on these results, a doubling of fruit intake in older women would be expected to result in a five percent increase in bone mineral content of the spine.”