Drinking Too Much Milk

Some Important Facts about Drinking Too Much Milk

As one of the most popular beverages besides water, one might scoff at the idea that drinking too much milk could have negative side effects on our health.  However, there is proof that one can, indeed, experience uncomfortable and potentially harmful symptoms when they consume too much of the creamy white liquid.



Humans have the distinction of being the only creature that makes the conscious choice of drinking milk after being weaned.  We all know that babies must have milk as their sole source of food for their first six months of life, and also that babies of this age will only take in as much nourishment as their tiny bodies require.  It isn’t until humans get older that they learn to eat for the pure enjoyment of eating and can take in excess amounts.  It is from this moment on that it is possible to have more milk than is healthy is have.  Symptoms can vary from babies and toddlers to youth and adults.

Babies & Toddlers

Under the guidance of the child’s pediatrician, most parents begin to offer solid foods in addition to milk to their infants between ages 4 months to 6 months.  Prior to this time, an infant’s nutrition should consist only of either breast milk or iron fortified baby formula.  Usually by the age of one to two years old, a baby is weaned from the breast or bottle and is able to consume solid foods on a regular basis.

Because the taste of milk is a familiar and comforting one, most babies continue to enjoy drinking it as they grow into a toddler.  They may enjoy it so much that they end up drinking too much milk and, as a result, fill up on the calories in the milk.  When this happens, they will turn their noses up at mealtimes with the families, not interested in eating at all.  This can be dangerous as milk is not a “complete” food even though it contains numerous essential elements..  Their developing and growing bodies require carbohydrates, protein, fiber as well as minerals and vitamins providing in a variety of foods.  Without these vital elements, the child’s health can be greatly comprised, sometimes leading to serious conditions. If the child is drinking whole milk, they can also be consuming far too much fat.  Toddlers and preschoolers should have a maximum of 24 ounces of milk each day, which equates to no more than 3 cups.  In addition, once they reach the age of 2 years, whole milk should be changed to skim milk to avoid the unnecessary fat and cholesterol.

Youth and Adults

There is no doubt that milk has healthful properties.  However, in many households the consumption of milk and milk products goes beyond healthy limits.  Milk, cheese and yogurts are all healthy additions to the diet when consumed in moderate amounts; the recommendation being three 8 ounce glasses per day.  When too much is consumed, it can have negative effects on the body.  It is estimated that approximately 50% of the population is lactose intolerant, which generally means that they lack a specific enzyme that is necessary to process digestion of the milk product.  They may experience bloating, gas and pain as result.  Adding cheese and yogurts to the mix can mean even more problems, such as constipation, diarrhea and nausea.  There is also debate on how the effects of growth hormones that milk cows are given will affect humans, as well as antibiotics that are automatically provided to the bovines to treat infections that are caused by the growth hormones.

Milk is an essential part of the human diet, and for good reason.  However, drinking too much milk, whether for a baby, youth or adult, can only cause problems and should be avoided.  Milk does contain excellent sources of vitamins and calcium that are helpful to supplement the diet when it is consumed in appropriate amounts.