Sour Milk- Caucasian Calcium Standards

For decades, the United States Dietary Association (USDA) and its subsidiaries have advocated for us to acquire our daily vitamin D and calcium requirements, in large part through dairy consumption. As an appropriate prelude to this article, check out ‘Milk, an udder mistake?’, for more background on food policy recommendations regarding dairy consumption. In any case, it’s safe to say that dairy products have become a staple food group in most of our lives, whether it’s cheese, ice cream, a bowl of cereal, or a plethora of other milk-based products.

A picture containing person, wall, indoor, woman

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With dairy products contributing to a significant portion of our daily calcium and vitamin D intake, that leaves a large proportion of American society in a conundrum of either having to deal with the inconvenient symptoms of lactose intolerance or consume fewer dairy products. 

With this seemingly binary decision, a public health concern arises regarding Hispanics and African-Americans being deficient in their acquisition of calcium and vitamin D. One solution to address deficiencies such as these has been to revise the WIC food packages by amending the eligible food items to accommodate better micronutrient supplementation. Although most WIC recipients are of Caucasian descent, Hispanics and African-Americans as a combined group make up the majority of program participants. So, the aim is to help provide this lower-income subset within these respective demographics with better food options. 

However, there seems to be an interesting paradox that has been uncovered by the research community over the last 20 years. Although African-Americans and Hispanics are historically recognized as deficient consumers of dairy with the lowest associated intake of calcium and vitamin D, it is known that these groups are still less predisposed to developing osteoporosis, versus Caucasians. 

A picture containing indoor

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Although recommendations currently call for serum vitamin D levels (vitamin D circulating in the blood) between 20 and 50 ng/ml, black women actually displayed a lower hip fracture risk when they had less than the minimum recommended serum concentration; higher levels correlated with greater fracture risk. 

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Even more, there are correlations that infer a possible association between excess calcium intake for African American men and their alarming rate of U.S. metastatic prostate cancer diagnoses and deaths. Compared to their Caucasian counterparts, African-American men have a 50% higher risk of developing prostate cancer and are twice as likely to die from the disease after diagnosis.

Within this compilation of most recent studies, there are a couple schools of thought that experience some overlap. This includes those that are against lactose consumption (dairy) but comply with current calcium and vitamin D intake guidelines via non-dairy sources, and then there are those that are both against dairy and advocate for lower daily recommendations of the respective micronutrients. 

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For instance, one study showed that a low-lactose, high-calcium, high-vitamin D diet favors a reduced risk of ovarian cancer in African-American women. The interpretation of this study’s results drew controversy, not so much for the suggestion that less dairy may be better, but for the maintenance of the high-calcium mantra.

One of the critics, Dr. Constance Hilliard, has a unique perspective that blends a historian background with a clinical research context, and she has deduced that many people of African-American descent have been evolutionarily and epigenetically adapted to thrive on a low-calcium, low-sodium diet, among other divergent aspects of their when compared to the U.S. dietary guidelines. 

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Dr. Constance Hilliard

This adaptation was acquired in West Africa before any appreciable movement of African populations to the western world, such as the trans-Atlantic slave trade (1500s-1800s) or before any pre-colonial, sea-faring expeditions by West African kingdoms (i.e. Mali Kingdom, led by Mansa Abu Bakari II, during the early 1300s). In Western Africa there has been a prevalence of Tsetse flies that have inhibited the sustenance of cattle grazing in this region, leading to calcium being sourced elsewhere, and in less abundance. According to Dr. Hilliard, these populations lived healthily on 200-400mg/day of calcium vs the 1000-1200mg/day U.S. recommendation.

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More specifically, this evolutionary pressure selected for a unique variant of TRPV6, a calcium channel responsible for dietary uptake of calcium. This channel variant is hypersensitive to calcium, requiring less than other variants which manifest in European haplotypes, for example. Dr. Hilliard suspects that the surplus of calcium in our diet due to guidelines that are set for Europeans and European-descendants, may be one of the major culprits behind the disparate prevalence of certain metastatic cancers, as this excess calcium may essentially be toxic to African Americans and other African-descended peoples.

Dr. Milton Mills

Another proponent of reducing dairy intake is Dr. Milton Mills, who has not only partaken in impassioned reviews and rebuttals regarding the seemingly misleading dietary guidelines but has also confronted the National Food board about the inherent racism that has manifested itself in the representation of the board, and subsequently in the health policies passed down to the public.

Dr. Mills, who also is a staunch advocate for veganism, has noted as a practicing physician that a wide variety of his patients’ symptoms which could normally be attributed to any number of disorders or diseases, have been alleviated by simply recommending removal of dairy from their diets. Depending on whether these patients are equally replacing the dairy with non-dairy supplementation would also provide more insight as to whether their positive response was solely attributed to reduced lactose intake or in conjunction with reduced calcium in their diets, as well.

Based on these findings, there seems to be growing evidence that our national dietary recommendations may need more diversification to fit the melting pot of America that this country has become. It is a sad prospect to suspect that consumers in their own best interest may be following guidelines that unbeknownst to them may have unintended consequences.  If you are interested in exploring non-dairy options to acquire your calcium and vitamin D necessities, be sure to reference this article for more information and sources.

If you found this article informative please hit the ‘like’ button below, and don’t forget to subscribe to our platform for the latest intriguing science news and media!

Sour Milk: Caucasian Calcium Standards

For decades, the United States Dietary Association (USDA) and its subsidiaries have advocated for us to acquire our daily vitamin D and calcium requirements, in large part through dairy consumption. As an appropriate prelude to this article, check out ‘Milk, an udder mistake?’, for more background on food policy recommendations regarding dairy consumption. In any case, it’s safe to say that dairy products have become a staple food group in most of our lives, whether it’s cheese, ice cream, a bowl of cereal, or a plethora of other milk-based products.

A picture containing person, wall, indoor, woman

Description automatically generated

With dairy products contributing to a significant portion of our daily calcium and vitamin D intake, that leaves a large proportion of American society in a conundrum of either having to deal with the inconvenient symptoms of lactose intolerance or consume fewer dairy products. 

With this seemingly binary decision, a public health concern arises regarding Hispanics and African-Americans being deficient in their acquisition of calcium and vitamin D. One solution to address deficiencies such as these has been to revise the WIC food packages by amending the eligible food items to accommodate better micronutrient supplementation. Although most WIC recipients are of Caucasian descent, Hispanics and African-Americans as a combined group make up the majority of program participants. So, the aim is to help provide this lower-income subset within these respective demographics with better food options. 

However, there seems to be an interesting paradox that has been uncovered by the research community over the last 20 years. Although African-Americans and Hispanics are historically recognized as deficient consumers of dairy with the lowest associated intake of calcium and vitamin D, it is known that these groups are still less predisposed to developing osteoporosis, versus Caucasians. 

A picture containing indoor

Description automatically generated

Although recommendations currently call for serum vitamin D levels (vitamin D circulating in the blood) between 20 and 50 ng/ml, black women actually displayed a lower hip fracture risk when they had less than the minimum recommended serum concentration; higher levels correlated with greater fracture risk. 

Advertisements

Even more, there are correlations that infer a possible association between excess calcium intake for African American men and their alarming rate of U.S. metastatic prostate cancer diagnoses and deaths. Compared to their Caucasian counterparts, African-American men have a 50% higher risk of developing prostate cancer and are twice as likely to die from the disease after diagnosis.

Within this compilation of most recent studies, there are a couple schools of thought that experience some overlap. This includes those that are against lactose consumption (dairy) but comply with current calcium and vitamin D intake guidelines via non-dairy sources, and then there are those that are both against dairy and advocate for lower daily recommendations of the respective micronutrients. 

A person posing for the camera

Description automatically generated

For instance, one study showed that a low-lactose, high-calcium, high-vitamin D diet favors a reduced risk of ovarian cancer in African-American women. The interpretation of this study’s results drew controversy, not so much for the suggestion that less dairy may be better, but for the maintenance of the high-calcium mantra.

One of the critics, Dr. Constance Hilliard, has a unique perspective that blends a historian background with a clinical research context, and she has deduced that many people of African-American descent have been evolutionarily and epigenetically adapted to thrive on a low-calcium, low-sodium diet, among other divergent aspects of their when compared to the U.S. dietary guidelines. 

A person smiling for the camera

Description automatically generated
Dr. Constance Hilliard

This adaptation was acquired in West Africa before any appreciable movement of African populations to the western world, such as the trans-Atlantic slave trade (1500s-1800s) or before any pre-colonial, sea-faring expeditions by West African kingdoms (i.e. Mali Kingdom, led by Mansa Abu Bakari II, during the early 1300s). In Western Africa there has been a prevalence of Tsetse flies that have inhibited the sustenance of cattle grazing in this region, leading to calcium being sourced elsewhere, and in less abundance. According to Dr. Hilliard, these populations lived healthily on 200-400mg/day of calcium vs the 1000-1200mg/day U.S. recommendation.

Advertisements

More specifically, this evolutionary pressure selected for a unique variant of TRPV6, a calcium channel responsible for dietary uptake of calcium. This channel variant is hypersensitive to calcium, requiring less than other variants which manifest in European haplotypes, for example. Dr. Hilliard suspects that the surplus of calcium in our diet due to guidelines that are set for Europeans and European-descendants, may be one of the major culprits behind the disparate prevalence of certain metastatic cancers, as this excess calcium may essentially be toxic to African Americans and other African-descended peoples.

Dr. Milton Mills

Another proponent of reducing dairy intake is Dr. Milton Mills, who has not only partaken in impassioned reviews and rebuttals regarding the seemingly misleading dietary guidelines but has also confronted the National Food board about the inherent racism that has manifested itself in the representation of the board, and subsequently in the health policies passed down to the public.

Dr. Mills, who also is a staunch advocate for veganism, has noted as a practicing physician that a wide variety of his patients’ symptoms which could normally be attributed to any number of disorders or diseases, have been alleviated by simply recommending removal of dairy from their diets. Depending on whether these patients are equally replacing the dairy with non-dairy supplementation would also provide more insight as to whether their positive response was solely attributed to reduced lactose intake or in conjunction with reduced calcium in their diets, as well.

Based on these findings, there seems to be growing evidence that our national dietary recommendations may need more diversification to fit the melting pot of America that this country has become. It is a sad prospect to suspect that consumers in their own best interest may be following guidelines that unbeknownst to them may have unintended consequences.  If you are interested in exploring non-dairy options to acquire your calcium and vitamin D necessities, be sure to reference this article for more information and sources.

If you found this article informative please hit the ‘like’ button below, and don’t forget to subscribe to our platform for the latest intriguing science news and media!

Milk- An Udder Mistake?

We’re told to drink cow’s milk to build stronger bones, while being  bombarded with “Got milk?” commercials, posters, and sound-bytes supporting dairy in our diet. However, why milk is needed may not be entirely clear. Is milk really crucial to our bone health? Let’s talk about it.

A screenshot of a cell phone screen with text

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Some of us may remember the food pyramid, created in 1992 by the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, displaying how many servings of each food group are needed to be healthy and strong. 

As it pertains to the dairy section, we were told that each day we should consume 2-3 servings of dairy products, all of which includes milk and foods derived from it. As of 2011, the USDA has opted to replace this reference with a food plate to provide an updated look to their food policy promotion.

Milk serves as an excellent source of calcium and vitamin D which are essential micronutrients that work together for the development and maintenance of strong bones and teeth, while also supporting a functional immune system to fight infection and disease.

According to the United States Food and Nutrition Board (FNB), the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for calcium is 1,000 mg/day with older, post-menopausal women recommended to take upwards of 1200mg/day; regarding vitamin D intake, the RDA ranges between 10 mcg and 20 mcg per day, depending on the age group.

(Currently, the FDA is implementing plans for updating nutrition labels pertaining to units of conversion by July 1, 2021, and as an example, vitamin D’s International units (IU) are being converted to micrograms (mcg). Until then, you can use this calculator for a variety of conversion purposes, to avoid confusion.)

USDA Food Plate, 2011

Of note, very few foods naturally contain substantial vitamin D, thus requiring supplementation of our food supply with this nutrient to reach our daily recommendations. For example, 1 cup of raw cow’s milk contains .03 mcg – .20 mcg (.3% – 2% daily value!) of vitamin D. As a result, since the 1930s milk in the U.S. has been supplemented with 2.5mcg of vitamin D per cup of milk (25% of daily recommendation). Calcium, on the other hand, is a naturally occurring in cow’s milk, providing 300mg or 30% of the daily recommendation. 

A person sitting on a table

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All things considered, it seems to make sense that we be encouraged by our food policy entities to obtain our nutritional requirements through the easiest, most supplemented routes possible. Yet, studies have shown there are still shortcomings in nutrient acquisition of calcium and vitamin D. Well, there seem to be underlying reasons behind the great disparities in United States’ dairy consumption between demographics, which we allude to next. 

The primary deterrent of almost all non-european ethnic groups consuming dairy is a condition termed lactose intolerance. This is due to a deficiency or absence of an enzyme called lactase, which allows for the digestion of products containing the sugar lactose. Symptoms of lactose intolerance can include abdominal discomfort, flatulence (gas), diarrhea, and nausea. Contrary to popular belief, lactose intolerance is not an exception to the rule. As a matter of fact, most adolescent and adult human beings are lactose intolerant to some degree, and after observing the table included in this article, you will realize the individuals most amenable to consuming dairy products over their lifetime are those of European descent. 

Research has been done to explore whether the discomfort of dairy intake for lactose intolerant individuals can be alleviated by consistent consumption. One study, for example, shows that through daily consumption of lactose-containing products over the course of three weeks, it appears that symptoms and measured lactose intolerance did not worsen over time; these results were consistent with previous studies. However, considering the reality that people of all ages consume dairy for years on end, a longer-term study may be necessary to see if this study’s findings hold true, or if other physiological responses arise.  

So, is it really necessary to force-feed dairy to people that naturally and biologically reject it? A growing number of specialists believe the answer is no, and the research to backup that rebuttal is starting to pile up. Be sure to check out our follow-up article which will dive deeper into the research behind propositions to overhaul current U.S. food recommendations, and why dairy as a universal, life-long source of calcium and vitamin D, may be a big mistake. 

A screenshot of a cell phone

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Lactose Intolerance Prevalence by Demographic
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In the meantime, as the debate continues over whether dairy should be as heavily promoted, here are some non-dairy alternatives to obtain your current daily requirements of vitamin D and calcium:     

Vitamin D

* Fish

* Orange juice with fortified vitamin D

* Mushroom

* Fortified almond milk

Calcium

* Leafy greens (kale, spinach, collard greens)

* Seeds (sesame, flax seeds)

* Broccoli

* Beans

If you found this article informative please hit the ‘like’ button below, and don’t forget to subscribe to our platform for the latest intriguing science news and media!

Advertisements

Milk: An Udder Mistake?

We’re told to drink cow’s milk to build stronger bones, while being  bombarded with “Got milk?” commercials, posters, and sound-bytes supporting dairy in our diet. However, why milk is needed may not be entirely clear. Is milk really crucial to our bone health? Let’s talk about it.

A screenshot of a cell phone screen with text

Description automatically generated

Some of us may remember the food pyramid, created in 1992 by the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, displaying how many servings of each food group are needed to be healthy and strong. 

As it pertains to the dairy section, we were told that each day we should consume 2-3 servings of dairy products, all of which includes milk and foods derived from it. As of 2011, the USDA has opted to replace this reference with a food plate to provide an updated look to their food policy promotion.

Milk serves as an excellent source of calcium and vitamin D which are essential micronutrients that work together for the development and maintenance of strong bones and teeth, while also supporting a functional immune system to fight infection and disease.

According to the United States Food and Nutrition Board (FNB), the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for calcium is 1,000 mg/day with older, post-menopausal women recommended to take upwards of 1200mg/day; regarding vitamin D intake, the RDA ranges between 10 mcg and 20 mcg per day, depending on the age group.

(Currently, the FDA is implementing plans for updating nutrition labels pertaining to units of conversion by July 1, 2021, and as an example, vitamin D’s International units (IU) are being converted to micrograms (mcg). Until then, you can use this calculator for a variety of conversion purposes, to avoid confusion.)

USDA Food Plate, 2011

Of note, very few foods naturally contain substantial vitamin D, thus requiring supplementation of our food supply with this nutrient to reach our daily recommendations. For example, 1 cup of raw cow’s milk contains .03 mcg – .20 mcg (.3% – 2% daily value!) of vitamin D. As a result, since the 1930s milk in the U.S. has been supplemented with 2.5mcg of vitamin D per cup of milk (25% of daily recommendation). Calcium, on the other hand, is a naturally occurring in cow’s milk, providing 300mg or 30% of the daily recommendation. 

A person sitting on a table

Description automatically generated

All things considered, it seems to make sense that we be encouraged by our food policy entities to obtain our nutritional requirements through the easiest, most supplemented routes possible. Yet, studies have shown there are still shortcomings in nutrient acquisition of calcium and vitamin D. Well, there seem to be underlying reasons behind the great disparities in United States’ dairy consumption between demographics, which we allude to next. 

The primary deterrent of almost all non-european ethnic groups consuming dairy is a condition termed lactose intolerance. This is due to a deficiency or absence of an enzyme called lactase, which allows for the digestion of products containing the sugar lactose. Symptoms of lactose intolerance can include abdominal discomfort, flatulence (gas), diarrhea, and nausea. Contrary to popular belief, lactose intolerance is not an exception to the rule. As a matter of fact, most adolescent and adult human beings are lactose intolerant to some degree, and after observing the table included in this article, you will realize the individuals most amenable to consuming dairy products over their lifetime are those of European descent. 

Research has been done to explore whether the discomfort of dairy intake for lactose intolerant individuals can be alleviated by consistent consumption. One study, for example, shows that through daily consumption of lactose-containing products over the course of three weeks, it appears that symptoms and measured lactose intolerance did not worsen over time; these results were consistent with previous studies. However, considering the reality that people of all ages consume dairy for years on end, a longer-term study may be necessary to see if this study’s findings hold true, or if other physiological responses arise.  

So, is it really necessary to force-feed dairy to people that naturally and biologically reject it? A growing number of specialists believe the answer is no, and the research to backup that rebuttal is starting to pile up. Be sure to check out our follow-up article which will dive deeper into the research behind propositions to overhaul current U.S. food recommendations, and why dairy as a universal, life-long source of calcium and vitamin D, may be a big mistake. 

A screenshot of a cell phone

Description automatically generated
Lactose Intolerance Prevalence by Demographic
A picture containing person, ground, outdoor, boy

Description automatically generated

In the meantime, as the debate continues over whether dairy should be as heavily promoted, here are some non-dairy alternatives to obtain your current daily requirements of vitamin D and calcium:     

Vitamin D

* Fish

* Orange juice with fortified vitamin D

* Mushroom

* Fortified almond milk

Calcium

* Leafy greens (kale, spinach, collard greens)

* Seeds (sesame, flax seeds)

* Broccoli

 

* Beans

 

If you found this article informative please hit the ‘like’ button below, and don’t forget to subscribe to our platform for the latest intriguing science news and media!

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