‘Good for your bones’ is often one of the most common health benefits listed for milk, but how much truth is in the idea? Exactly how good for your bones are the nutrients in milk?
Well, one of the unique things about cow’s milk is that it’s packed with calcium. Calcium is an important nutrient for the human body and is needed for the maintenance of normal bones and teeth. Calcium is not the only bone supporting element in milk, as milk also provides protein and phosphorous that along with calcium is needed for the normal growth and development of bone in children.
So the answer is yes, milk provides nutrients that are good for your bones!
How much calcium would you get in a glass of milk?
Every glass of milk has calcium in it, and the difference between the calcium levels in full-fat, semi-skimmed and skimmed milk is minimal – so the type of milk you drink should have no bearing on the amount of calcium you get. 100ml of milk typically provides around 124mg of calcium. The NHS Eatwell Guide also recommends going for lower fat milk for adults and children over 5, but this won’t affect the milk’s calcium content.
How much milk should you drink in a day?
If you’re drinking milk to get calcium into your diet, you need to look at how much calcium a person should have each day. When you look at the nutrition label on a bottle of milk, or any food containing calcium, you’ll see a recommended daily amount shown as 800mg or 100%DV for calcium. However, this is just a standardised daily amount for adults, and not necessarily that useful if you’re trying to figure out if your child is getting enough calcium.
The UK Government has set more nuanced recommendations¹ for what a healthy calcium intake should be for various age groups. These recommendations are what we use in our public communications – they let us tell our customers how much calcium they should be consuming in a day according to their age groups. Those calcium levels guidelines look like this in mg (milligrams) per day:
How much of your daily calcium intake would you get from a glass of a milk?
We’ve looked at how much calcium you would get from a glass of milk, so now let’s see how that calcium fits into our intended daily intake. To answer the questions as best we can, we’re going to use the UK Government’s recommendations as our guidelines here. According to these recommendations, drinking a 250ml glass of milk will provide between 35% and 89% of your recommended daily calcium intake (dependent on age). To show a breakdown by age group, here’s a helpful table: