What you need to know:
- Many people know that milk is high in calcium, which is important for building and maintaining strong bones. However, calcium is just one of the many nutrients found in milk.
- Milk naturally provides more than 10 essential nutrients in one tasty, convenient and affordable package
Milk is often called a balanced diet food because it contains several important nutrients.
Calcium is a major mineral contained in milk according to Amanda Tumwebaze, a freelance nutritionist. The mineral is useful in strengthening bones and teeth, muscle contractions, blood clotting and wound healing.
“Milk contains adequate vitamin D levels which support the production of serotonin, a hormone associated with mood and sleep. Milk provides vitamin D, and it is a good source of calcium. Calcium in milk helps the body absorb vitamin D,” she says. High potassium intake as contained in the milk is associated with a reduced risk of stroke, protection against loss of muscle mass, preservation of bone mineral density and reduction in the formation of kidney stones.
The vitamin-B factor contained in the milk is important in sleep, muscle movement, learning, and memory. It helps in the transmission of nerve impulses and reduces chronic inflammation.
When to limit milk intake
Extremes of people that take a litre of milk every day are likely to suffer complications but taking the milk in moderate quantities (300ml a day) does no harm.
Since milk is considered to be a high calorie food, Lilian Nyanzi, a nutritionist at Neulife Medical Centre, Bweyogerere, recommends that one takes it in the morning when the metabolic rate is high than taking it in the evening before bed. There are some conditions according to Nyanzi that would limit one from taking milk. People with high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and acne should limit their milk intake because it contains a lot of fat. Such people are likely to develop complications as follows.
Poor bone health
Calcium is the main mineral contained in milk but once it is in excess, it brings about an imbalance in the magnesium and potassium minerals that cause bone complications such as bone loss and arthritis. “Milk is a natural source of high-quality protein, necessary for preserving or increasing lean muscle mass. Taking milk daily provides protein which can increase lactic acid production, which requires the use of more calcium from bones to neutralise the acids. This often is detrimental to bone health,” says Tumwebaze.
Full cream milk contains a lot of fat. A daily intake of the milk clogs the blood vessels and when it accumulates, the size of the vessels become narrow, which causes high blood pressure. “The children can take the full cream milk because they need the nutrients for their development but for adults, skimmed milk would be recommendable. They can reduce the number of times they consume the milk or have it diluted,” Nyanzi says.
Lilian Nyanzi, a nutritionist, says milk contains calcium that is important for bone health and prevention of osteoporosis but other strategies to boost bone strength include regular physical activity, avoiding smoking and eating a diet low in sodium and high in potassium.”
“The high potassium levels in milk can help to protect the heart but leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale along with citrus fruits, banana and tomatoes are also good sources of calcium,” she says, adding that if you suffer from lactose intolerance, avoiding animal milk will be helpful. You may consider taking alternatives such as soy, coconut, almond and oats milk.