The Dairy Deficit

Some young girls mistakenly avoid milk and dairy products

Young girls may be putting their bones at risk because they mistakenly believe they are lactose intolerant and therefore avoid dairy products. In a study of 291 sixth-grade girls in Indiana and California, Purdue University researchers found that about half who claimed to be milk intolerant actually were not. They shunned dairy, even in the absence of symptoms, possibly because of warnings passed on by parents or peers, says lead author Carol Boushey, Ph.D., M.P.H. The researchers found that the dairy avoiders had lower mineral content in their spines, putting them at long-term risk of osteoporosis.

Certain ethnic groups, such as Asians and Hispanics, have higher rates of lactose maldigestion. But even people who are maldigesters can consume three servings a day with no symptoms, Boushey says.

The best dietary sources of calcium are dairy products (low-fat is okay), soft-boned fish such as canned salmon and sardines, and vegetables, especially broccoli, kale, spinach, bok choy (Chinese cabbage), and mustard, collard and turnip greens.

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at

Published: 24 Aug 2010

Last Modified: 06 Nov 2014