It’s more than likely your mom repeatedly told you to drink a glass of milk to build strong bones while you were growing up. While sometimes you can take the things mom says with a grain of salt, in this case, she’s spot on. When it comes to keeping your bones strong and healthy, it’s important to take in plenty of calcium, and one of the simplest ways to get more calcium into your diet is by drinking milk.
“Dairy foods (milk, cheese, and yogurt) are the best sources of calcium in the American diet,” says medical board expert Amy Goodson, RD, author of The Sports Nutrition Playbook. “One eight-ounce glass of milk provides you with 13 essential nutrients, including approximately 300 milligrams of calcium.”
Just one glass won’t cut it, though, as many people need three servings of dairy per day, so three glasses of milk a day will help keep your bones from aging.
“The Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) for adults aged 19 to 50 years old is 1,000 milligrams per day, so consuming three servings of dairy foods—specifically milk—can help reach that goal,” Goodson says.
She adds that biological sex and age both play a role in how much calcium you should consume in a day, as women need to take in more than men, and anyone over the age of 70 needs to have more calcium in their diet.
“What’s important to note is that while men aged 51 to 70 years old still only need 1,000 milligrams of calcium per, women actually have increased calcium needs to maintain bone mineral density and should consume 1,200 milligrams per day,” Goodson says. “Then after age 70, men and women should both be consuming 1200 milligrams of calcium per day.”
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While the calcium in milk is crucial for bone strength, Goodson says that you also need to be taking in vitamin D, something that milk also contains, to have it be effective, which shows that milk is an overwhelmingly strong choice for a drink to help boost bone strength and keep your bones from aging.
“Milk is also fortified with Vitamin D, 100 IU per glass. Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption,” Goodson says. “In fact, without adequate vitamin D intake, you only absorb about 10 to 15 percent of the calcium you take in from your diet. Not to mention milk contains other nutrients that help with bone and tissue growth like phosphorus and high-quality protein.“
To mix it up, you don’t just have to drink a glass of milk, according to Goodson, but instead, you can add milk to different drinks to have more variety in your diet.
“What’s better is that milk is affordable and can be consumed in so many drinks besides by itself,” Goodson says. “Lattes, hot chocolate, and smoothies can all be made with milk to help you hydrate, as well as keep your bones strong as you age.”