Bone Density: Why Milk’s Not The Secret To Strength

Bones, osteoporosis

Hey there Goddesses! Have you noticed that this Meno sisterhood of ours is all about learning?

It’s like all the other life stages really – it’s a thing called life – but if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that our age group is woefully uneducated when it comes to menopause and health. Particularly when it comes to the conditions we become vulnerable to such as diminishing bone density and osteoporosis.

The more I’ve learned about perimenopause, menopause and post-menopause the more I’ve realised it’s been a case of I don’t know what I don’t know. And from talking to all of you I’m not alone.

Since that realisation, I’ve spent hours and hours in lectures and learning labs so I can impart knowledge to you. So, let’s get educated. The subject today is bones and osteoporosis.

Let’s get educated. The subject today is bones. And Osteoporosis. Click To Tweet


It’s crucial to be aware that lower levels of estrogen affect our bones in a big way. It makes them weaker, less dense and we become more susceptible to osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a condition that causes bones to break easily. 

1 in 4 women will experience osteoporosis post-menopause. Click To Tweet

According to the International Foundation for Osteoporosis two million Australians are affected by osteoporosis.

In New Zealand there were 84,000 osteoporosis fractures in 2007 with 60 percent of those occurring in women.

These are big numbers. In fact, the Foundation has created a Risk Factor Sheet, which I’ll give you the link to at the bottom of this page.

So let’s look at the whys?

The Milk Myth

You’ve been brought up to believe that drinking milk will give you strong bones right? The reality is, this is far from the truth.

Over the past 50 years, the incidence of hip fractures has risen around the world and, interestingly, perhaps frighteningly, the occurrence is greater in countries that have a high consumption of milk products (that would include us Australasia).

cows milk

Harvard University conducted a huge study (entitled The Nurses Study) which followed 78,000 nurses for over a decade. It found that nurses who drank two or more glasses of milk per day had twice the hip fracture risk of those who drink a glass a week or less.

“Data does not support the hypothesis that higher consumption of milk or other food sources of calcium by adult women protects against hip or forearms fractures.” Source 

A Swedish study found that three or more glasses of milk a day was actually associated with an increased risk of fracture. Furthermore, the risk of death increased in comparison to women who drank only one glass per day. 

Our Bones

Our bones are living, growing tissue. They’re mostly made up of collagen, which gives them pliability. And the strength and hardness they’re known for comes from a mineral called calcium phosphate.

The combination gives them enough strength and flexibility to withstand stress.

When we’re young the bone rebuilds quickly but as we age bone loss increases.

Calcium, vitamin D and exercise, particularly resistance exercise, help maintain it. However, in the first four to eight years post-menopause the decline in estrogen means we lose bone more rapidly. This can lead to osteoporosis and breakages.

Nutritional Power

When it comes to bone health, a cocktail of nutrients can work together to give us our best defense. Magnesium, phosphorus, boron, copper, manganese, zinc, folic acid, and the vitamins C, D, K, B6 all build good bones.

Of course protein is king and essential for building collagen, and good fats will help our bodies absorb the vitamin D we need to strengthen our bones.

How Can We Give Our Bones the Best Chance?

  • I know I bang on about this but this one informational nugget will change your life. Eat vegetables, especially leafy greens. Include five to seven portions daily.

leafy greens

  • Make homemade stock with vegetables and a stick of Kombu seaweed or with fish, chicken, or beef bones. Adding a tablespoon of vinegar will release the minerals therein.
  • Embrace sunflower and pumpkin seeds. They’re full of minerals and good fats and are as tasty as nuts. Toast them for variation.
  • As always choose whole grains, but go easy. They’re a great source of fibre but carbs can be hard for meno girls to assimilate.
  • Dose yourself up with good oils like extra virgin olive, flaxseed and unrefined sesame. They serve up essential fatty acids and our skin love them.
  • Exercise strengthens bones. It’s a fact. At least 30 minutes every other day (or more often).
  • Take up weights. Lifting weights won’t make you over-sized but it will increase your bone density.

Ban From Your Kitchen

Refined sugar, white flour (and anything made with it), like pasta, white bread and muffins. I know you love them because they’re addictive, but they can also cause an acid condition that leaches minerals from your bones.

One Minute Osteoporosis Risk Test

This is well worth doing, it’s very interesting Holmes!


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