Can Drinking Milk Help Your Knee Joints?

A research study from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston showed that arthritic women who drink one glass of milk each day have less joint deterioration than women who rarely drink milk.

Over 2,000 women with osteoarthritis of the knee in their early 60s at the start of the study were observed for four years and questioned about their dietary habits. Among those who drank one or more glasses of milk a day - the thickness of the joint surface was better maintained. (The benefits of milk were not seen in men.)

The joint surface is the location at which bones connect. Joint surfaces are covered with cartilage, which allows the bones to move more freely against each other. This smooth layer of cartilage is soft and easily injured and it wears thin as we age.  The thickness of the joint surface is better maintained through nutrition and key ingredients like UC-II collagen, as well as addressing the health of the underlying bones. Healthy bones support the joint surface and keep it from wearing out too fast.  A mineral typically associated with bone health – magnesium – also targets joint health because it works especially well with “spongy” bone, like those of the joints.

It’s not clear whether milk was the reason for the slower arthritis progression, or just more evidence that nutrition may help to stave off arthritis.  Milk is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, dairy calcium and protein and has long been recognized for its important role in bone health.

Yogurt and cheese did not help protect joints from deterioration and women who ate more cheese actually had greater joint deterioration. The authors noted that cheese may have high levels of saturated fats and may contribute to obesity, which would also worsen arthritis.  Weight gain also contributes to knee joint deterioration by increasing the pressure applied to joints – for example, a 5 lb. weight gain actually adds an extra 15 lbs. or more of pressure to your knee joints.

The authors further suggested that adequate milk consumption may reflect healthier lifestyle and better eating habits overall and that may have contributed to the slower development of osteoarthritis in women who drank milk.

To prevent knee joint deterioration evaluate your diet and make sure you are getting nutrients that support your bone and joint health together. Pay attention to calcium intake (even if you add milk you will likely need supplemental calcium), magnesium, as well as ingredients you can’t find in food, like ASU, which helps hydrate the joint surface and allows for smooth gliding. If you already have knee deterioration, Institute for Better Bone Health's Joint Formula with UC-II® may provide some relief.

3 thoughts on “Can Drinking Milk Help Your Knee Joints?”

  • Maria

    Does the type of milk matter? For example, skim, 2%, whole?

  • Shelly

    Does almond milk work just as well. I am lactose intolerant

    • Liqui-Site

      Almond milk is a good alternative for people who are lactose intolerant. However there are other proteins in cow's milk that help calcium availability and other important health functions. Cow's milk doesn't deserve most of the bad press it's been getting lately. The recent study that showed increased death rates was for very large amounts of milk and included whole milk with plenty of fat. Low fat milks are healthier for sure. A balanced diet should include some dairy products. Yogurt, frozen yogurt, and cheese are easier to tolerate because the lactose is partially digested. Cheese is also a good source of vitamin K2 that's important for bone health. Few people are totally lactose intolerant. A good compromise for people who are lactose sensitive is almond milk to drink for calcium along with daily low fat yogurt or low fat cheese for the benefits of dairy.

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