Can You Drink Too Much Milk?

Growing up, you probably saw the health benefits of milk promoted everywhere from posters in doctor offices, to the "Got Milk?" celebrity ad campaign in the pages of teen magazines. Rightfully so, considering that cow's milk is packed with calcium, vitamin A, vitamin B12, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc, amongst other nutrients (via WebMD). In fact, a 2011 study conducted by McMaster University discovered that young children dehydrated from physical activity are better served rehydrating with milk rather than water or a sports drink to replenish sodium lost from sweating.

Not only that, but milk can offer immense health benefits when it comes to growth. According to WebMD, milk is a great source of protein, which can aid in the production and repairing of cells. Additionally, the calcium in milk can boost bone health, which is important for the development of teeth in children.

So if milk is both delicious and nutritious, you might think there's no such thing as drinking too much of it. Think again. It turns out, because there's so much protein (and hormones) in cow's milk, consuming it in excess can cause disruptions in the body's metabolism (via LiveStrong). 

Don't exceed this many cups of milk in a day

Overconsumption of milk also can lead to inflammation, which may emerge in the form of acne, respiratory problems, and allergic reactions (via LiveStrong). Additionally, those with a lactose intolerance often experience digestive discomfort such as diarrhea or bloating when drinking milk (via Eat This, Not That!).

Among the more severe side effects of drinking too much milk is bone breakage. A 1997 study published in the American Journal of Public Health examined over 77,000 women between the ages of 34 and 59 over the course of 12 years. It was found that participants who consumed two or more glasses of milk daily were at an increased risk for hip and forearm fractures over those whose milk consumption was merely one glass or less weekly. Additionally, a 2014 study published in the British Medical Journal found an increased risk of mortality among both men and women who drank three or more glasses of milk daily, as opposed to those who drank less than one glass per day.

So how much milk is too much? While three glasses of milk is the daily dietary recommendation for adults by the United States Department of Agriculture (via American Bone Health), researcher and dietitian Gail Cresci told the Cleveland Clinic that less is more. "If you want to drink milk for strong bones, I recommend no more than one glass a day. Do this in addition to a mixed diet rich in calcium."