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Published: February, 2011; Vol 7, Num 9

 

Health Food Bargain: Milk

Need Another Reason
To Drink Milk?

Milk may also be a weapon for battling the bulge, according to a two-year weight loss study recently published in the American Journal of Nutrition. The study found that dieting adults who drank 12 ounces (slightly less than two glasses) of milk a day lost an average of 12 pounds. By comparison, adults who drank half a glass of milk a day lost seven pounds.

Researchers believe that vitamin D is the reason.

In the study, more than 300 overweight men and women between the ages of 40 and 65 followed low-fat, low-carbohydrate or Mediterranean diets. Regardless of what they ate, those with the highest levels of vitamin D in their systems were the ones who lost the most weight. The common denominator was milk consumption. Those who shed the most pounds drank the most milk.

It’s not just for kids. It’s a health food for all ages, and it may help you lose weight (see sidebar).

Drink more milk.

At 25 cents a glass, milk is a nourishing, tasty bargain for Laborers.  Milk is loaded with calcium and assorted nutrients that bolster bones and teeth and keep the body strong. It is also fortified with vitamin D, which supports the immune system. Vitamin D deficiencies are associated with obesity.

Nutrients Found in Milk and Other Dairy Products:

Potassium: Helps regulate the body's fluid balance

Vitamin B12: Helps build red blood cells

Vitamin A: Helps maintain normal vision and skin. Also regulates cell growth and helps maintain the immune system

Riboflavin: Helps convert food into energy

Niacin: Supports enzyme function in the body and metabolism of sugar and fatty acids

Phosphorus: Helps strengthen bones and generates energy

Calcium: Builds strong bones and regulates muscle contractions

Protein: Maintains and repairs muscles

Vitamin D: Promotes the absorption of calcium and optimizes bone mineralization

Why Add Vitamin D?

Milk and other dairy products are usually fortified with vitamin D, but this vitamin can also be obtained in other ways. When exposed to five to 30 minutes of sunlight twice a week, skin makes vitamin D naturally. However, getting the right amount of vitamin D can be difficult when the weather does not cooperate. The vitamin also turns up naturally in some foods. Fatty fish – salmon, tuna and mackerel, for example – are particularly good sources. Vitamin D can also be taken as a supplement, but concentrated doses sometimes lead to toxicity. The advantage of milk is that you can increase intake of vitamin D regardless of the weather, without risking toxicity and with minimal expense.

Daily vitamin D requirements vary with age, genetic makeup and general health. Older adults, people with dark complexions and those with digestive disorders like Crohn’s disease or celiac disease may have difficulty absorbing vitamin D. Special efforts may be required to ensure they are getting enough. If you are among these groups, discuss this issue with your health care provider.

Which Milk Should You Drink?

A variety of milk products are on the dairy shelf. Because whole milk contains significant amounts of calories and fat, children under the age of two and people who have trouble maintaining weight are the only ones who should drink it. Others should drink skim milk or milk that has a fat content of one percent. Some people, with lactose intolerance, should drink lactose-free milk. All milk varieties provide all of dairy’s bounty, including Vitamin D.

For most people, drinking milk is an easy and economical way to enhance diet, boost intake of vitamin D and improve overall health. Add a glass or two of milk to your day and enjoy the benefits.

[Janet Lubman Rathner]