Does milk “do a body good”?

Milk jar, milk bottle and milk glass shot on blue striped table against blue striped table

Milk, it does a body good. The image of celebrities with their milk mustaches is burned into my mind and the message is clear. Drinking it promotes good health and strong bones. But does the science match the marketing?

A new review article in New England Journal of Medicine by Doctors David Ludwig and Walter Willett from Harvard University answers this question with a resounding “No!” Dr. Ludwig also wrote an accompanying article on the online news site, Medium.

We have written on a couple of occasions about how the recommendation to avoid whole milk and instead drink low-fat or skim milk is not supported by science. Dr. Ludwig echoes this sentiment in his review of the science and shows how there is no clear link between whole milk and obesity, cancer, or heart disease. He concludes that if you choose to drink milk, choose the whole-fat variety.

But he takes his report a step further and asserts that we probably shouldn’t be drinking milk at all. He shows that the claims that we need high amounts of calcium from milk for our health and bones are inaccurate and also not supported by evidence. Instead, he concludes:

There is no human requirement to drink the milk of other animals. All the nutrients in milk can be obtained in the necessary amounts from other dietary sources. For calcium, alternative sources include kale, broccoli, nuts, seeds, beans, sardines, and other whole foods.

You may have to skip the selfies with a milk mustache, but your bones won’t mind at all.

Thanks for reading,
Bret Scher, MD FACC


The case for whole milk gets stronger

Meat and dairy belong in a healthy diet, experts say