Do we really need dairy in our diet?

Content by: 180 Nutrition

180 nutrition is dairy healthy

By Guy Lawrence

This is not a post about whether we should be eating dairy or not, but whether we actually need dairy in our diet. Of course there’s the obvious push that it gives us strong bones and it’s a great source of calcium and protein. But can these be sourced from anywhere else to the extent our body needs?

The other question I ask myself is; are people eating dairy because it tastes nice, not because they are actually worried about their bones in the first place? When I sit in a cafe on a Saturday morning and watch people drinking their lattes, I’m pretty sure they couldn’t give a sh*t about calcium levels and bone density as they are simply enjoying their coffee.

So do we really need dairy in our diet? Let’s take a look…

Nutritional facts

The table below shows nutrient density from 1000 calorie samples. The values represent average of food types within each food group: 18 vegetables, 4 lean meats.
[table caption=”Nutrient Density for Various Food Groups”]
Nutrients,Whole Milk,Vegetables,Lean Meats
Vitamin B12 (ug),0.58,0.00,0.63
Vitamin B3 (mg),0.14,2.73,4.73
Phosphorus (mg),152,157,151
Vitamin B2 (mg),0.26,0.33,0.14
Vitamin B1 (mg),0.06,0.26,0.18
Folate (ug),8.1,208.3,3.8
Vitamin C (mg),74.2,93.6,0.1
Iron (mg),0.08,2.59,1.10
Vitamin B6 (mg),0.07,0.42,0.32
Vitamin A (RE),50,687,1.0
Magnesium (mg),21.9,54.5,18.0
Calcium (mg),194.3,116.8,6.1
Zinc (mg),0.62,1.04,1.9
Taken from the book The Paleo Diet for Athletes: A Nutritional Formula for Peak Athletic Performance by Loren Cordain & Joe Friel.

As you can see from the table above, if you eat a wide range of meats and vegetables (especially leafy greens) you will be getting all the nutrients you need. The only drawback is you have to eat a bucketload of veg to get the calories. Don’t make the mistake of having a limp piece of lettuce in your ham sandwich as making your quota!

Calcium & strong bones?

According to this article at The Harvard School of Public Health, studies suggest that high calcium intake doesn’t actually appear to lower a person’s risk for Osteoporosis.

Along with this, there are studies showing that getting daily sunshine (vitamin D) and weight training are the way forward. And these are two things I factor into my lifestyle.

The verdict?

From what I’ve seen over the years there clearly seems to be many professional opinions on dairy; from milk leading to cancer and lactose intolerance to the essential argument for strong bones.

dairyWhat’s my take on it?

Personally I think if you can tolerate dairy then there are benefits. But what concerns me is the commercially produced dairy. This includes homogenised milks, processed cheeses and your sweetened yogurts. A good example is the marketing around kids yogurts for healthy bones and teeth when many are highly processed and loaded with sugar.

  • I generally avoid milk from the supermarkets and have cream in my coffee.
  • I have no issues with butter and get pasture-fed when I can.
  • When I was into my weight training and wanted to put on weight, I’d increase my calories using raw milk (un-pasterised & un-homegenised) and had no problem with it.
  • I’ve been using a little Progurt each day.
  • I eat yogurt occasionally & generally buy sheep yogurt.
  • I eat a little cheese (the more mature the better, for me).

I also wrote a post on yogurts here & milk here.

Have you completely eliminated dairy from your diet? Or do you eat raw unprocessed dairy? Do you drink supermarket milk? Yogurt? Or do you eat a bucket load of veggies each day? Love to hear your thoughts…. Guy

On a side note: I truly enjoy writing these posts, hence our frequent blog posts. At the end of the day though, these are just my thought’s and feelings around a topic I’m passionate about. I encourage everyone to do their own research and check out the facts for themselves.

If you did enjoy the post and got something from it or have something to share on the topic, I would love to hear your thought’s in the comments section below. If you feel others would benefit from this then it would be great if you could share it using one of the icons below (Facebook etc). Cheers, Guy…


180 Nutrition

This article was curated by 180 Nutrition who were founded in March 2010 with the goal to offer the very best in natural health supplements and resources. The passionate team are aligned with leading health and wellness professionals including nutritionists, naturopaths, functional medicine and exercise specialists. They regularly connect with... Read More

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20 Replies to “Do we really need dairy in our diet?”
Sarah D says:

I personally avoid dairy as much as possible, with the occasional treat of cheese or a dairy based dessert as cheats (i love ice cream). But in my day to day diet i dont do cheese or milk or anything like that. I notice straight away when i eat dairy i will experience breakouts and digestive issues so its very obvious to me that my body prefers it if i go Dairy free.

Heath S says:

I also avoid dairy. I have cheese about twice a week in a cheat meal and thats it. I dont think Im intolerant, I just feel better without it. One question though, do we count 180 protein powder as a dairy serve?

180nps says:

Not in so many words as it’s virtually free of lactose and the measuring of Whey Protein Isolate is around 25% of the 50g serve. Also our vegan version is 100% free of dairy. Cheers – Guy

KL says:

Just wondering what you use in your 180 smoothie if not milk…? Do you use rice milk, or something similar?

180nps says:

Personally I use water or fresh coconut water. Almond milk works well, just check the sugar content on the packaging. Hope that helps – Guy

renee says:

Hey Guy
Since developing a lactose intolerance at a young age I have not touched any dairy for about 20 Years..I’m a 25yr old female who does crossfit 5 days..I eat bucket loads of veg and since following the 180 blog doubled my protein intake ..had test done recently and I have exceptional bone strength! I also avoid grains cos they upset my tummy too…so Ithink with all of these factors combinon’t need daiiry dairy

180nps says:

Hi Renee… It doesn’t surprise me. I’ve worked with some extremely fit athletes who haven’t had dairy in years. They put extreme demands on their body so nutrients are paramount, and their health is just fine…

Pauline says:

Hi Guy

Great article! I have been in the fitness industry for number of years and have seen a wide range of opinions on the dairy issue. However what I commonly see in most of my clients is that they all suffer from some allergy or intolerance to dairy (and wheat) and have lived with it for most of their lives. Once these products are limited or removed, there is a shift in how they feel and train… not to mention how their body transforms!

I experiment a lot with food to see the effects it has on my own body and since have found a modified Paleo eating plan suits me best. I don’t buy into the “calcium” lie…especially when Chia Seeds kicks milk to the curb!

Erin says:

Just in response to KL’s post. I simply use water in my 180 smoothie. I do have a dollop of natural greek yoghurt though.

Jacqui Lamont says:

I use mostly almond milk in my smoothies but when I do have milk or yoghurt I like to use dairy products from farmers/producers that don’t use the “bobby calves” system. Many people don’t know (it’s a dirty little secret of the dairy industry) that to produce milk cows need keep producing calves. These calves are wrenched away from their mothers when they’re only a few days old and sent off to slaughter. And it happens over and over and over again. It’s heart-wrenching to watch and listen to this happening. I have contacted Elgaar’s dairy and also Barambah Organics. Both of them keep their calves. You’ll pay a bit more but hey, it’s worth it to know that the animals are treated with care and compassion. Same goes for choosing truly free-range eggs.

Ally says:

The reason I chose 180 was because of its nutty taste. Not a fan of milk at all but have been looking for ways to get calcium into my body for a while. I drink 180 post work out with almond milk. That’s about as far as I’ll get with my calcium intake though – loving it!

Heath S says:

have been on the 180 original formula. Love it but just thinking of changing to the 180 vegan. Just a question does anyone know why there is alot more sodium in the vegan version compared with the original?

Georgie says:

Hi Guy
Thanks for the artcile, really interesting.
And I’m loving your protein powder. I mix it with lactose free milk as I’ve started avoiding soy.
Just wondering what your thoughts are on lactose free milk?
Thank you!

Jane says:

Great to read. The need for dairy for bone health was completely de bunked in the Australian GP mag May 2005. I agree with your comments about eating veg,, getting bit D weight bearing exercise. also making sure you have adequate magnesium levels. Thanks for the great articles

Hi Guy,
Good to let everyone know that many nutrients in dairy can be included in the diet from other sources, including calcium. However, what that table is missing is the fat content – unprocessed raw dairy is high in the beneficial saturated fats, essential especially for growing children. Also, to state Vitamin A content for vegetables is highly misleading- vegetables only contain carotenoids, which theoretically convert to vitamin A, but in reality the vast majority of people cannot make that conversion. True Vitamin A can only come from animal foods. Unprocessed raw dairy has very good quantities of vitamin A and D in good balance. Many people today have what I call ‘pasteurisation intolerance’! Many people tolerate raw dairy well and some even thrive on it, particularly fermented kefir. Many people react to dairy as their digestion has been damaged and gut flora is sub-optimal to cope with dairy. So- if you or especially your child feel great after eating dairy and you can get your hands on raw, unprocessed grass fed stuff, then go ahead and enjoy it!! If it makes you feel unwell, maybe hold off. I think comparing dairy nutritionally to vegetables is misguided.

Guy Lawrence says:

Hi Maria, Thanks for the comment.

Unprocessed raw dairy is still illegal to recommend for human consumption here in Australia, and something we can’t recommend as a health & wellness company.

Personally I would use it, but the reality is most families in Australia use conventional processed dairy, which is something I personally don’t consume. This post is to simply highlight the alternatives.

Cheers, Guy

Of course! I often forget that and recommend left right and centre:) Good point.

Keren says:

We make our own almond milk. It takes 2 minutes.
Blend two hand fulls of almonds with 1 litre of water. Blend for a few minutes. Put through a mesh sive and there you have it. The left over almond meal is great to put into sugarless bannana bread instead of flour. Great snack for adults and kids

Guy Lawrence says:

Great, thanks for sharing Keren 🙂

Mark says:

I eat lots of dairy – whole milk (with smoothies & coffee), greek yoghurt and cheese but I also eat lots of vegetables. I think it depends on each person and how they digest dairy. My wife has less dairy and finds the A2 milk suits her better than other milk.

Comments are closed.