Your Daily Dose; Dairy Milk Drops in Popularity - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Your Daily Dose; Dairy Milk Drops in Popularity

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LEWES, Del.- A recent report shows fewer households are drinking milk.  Average consumption has dropped about 33 percent since 1970 and many families are turning to milk alternatives to get their daily dose of calcium. So does milk really do a body good? 

Dietician Lisa Harkins, of Ideal Nutrition and Fitness LLC, says while calcium is important, dairy milk isn't always the best source of it for everyone.  Some people are lactose intolerant or looking to avoid certain hormones that can be found in cow's milk. 

"All milk contains "BST" Bovine Somatotrophin.  It's the Recombinant Bovine Somatotropin that people have an issue with and that's used in about 18 percent of farmers use it.  Which counts for about a third of the milk supply," said Harkins.  

Milk from RBST-treated cows contains slightly elevated levels of hormones such as BST, and Insulin-like Growth Factor 1.  The milk industry and the Food and Drug Administration say it is safe, but the drug is not allowed on the market in many other countries, making many health conscience americans question the FDA. 

Harkins says it is hard to know the health impact of the hormones on people, because you cannot perform studies on humans. 

In 1970, customers consumed about 22 gallons of milk a year per person, that number dropped to less than 15 gallons in 2012.  The decline is due in part to the popularity of alternatives to dairy milk, such as almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk and even cashew milk are making a surge in grocery stores and even local businesses.  

John Rioux of the Paradigm Restaurant and Bar has noticed a change in what his customers are asking for. 

"At this point if we don't have a selection of alternatives to milk, we will disappoint a great deal of customers coming through our door. I would say soy milk is probably the number one second choice to regular milk, then cashew milk, almond milk all of those follow right behind it," said Rioux.

Harkins cautions consumers there can be issues with some of these milks as well. Some of the products contain a thickener called Carrageenan.

"As early as 20 years ago there was research done -- it's a seaweed derivative, it's a thickener, it's used and it's a natural ingredient-- so people thought oh it's a natural ingredient it's safe, but natural doesn't always equate to safe. Unfortunately it's been linked to certain stomach cancers, like ulcers or colitis, or IBS," said Harkins.  

So how do you figure out what's best? Harkins emphasizes it's important to read the labels.  She also says to look at what is most important for your family.

"I probably would go for a organic cows milk for my child because i do think the protein benefits are there that you don't see in an almond milk, rice milk or coconut milk."  
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