Research Gives Hispanics Another Reason to Drink Their Milk This Diabetes Month...

Research Gives Hispanics Another Reason to Drink Their Milk This Diabetes Month and Beyond

Study Finds Key Milk Nutrients Calcium and Vitamin D May Help Lower Type 2 Diabetes Risk, a Major Concern in the Hispanic Community


MIAMI, Nov. 14 /PRNewswire-HISPANIC PR WIRE/ — Most Hispanics fail to get the calcium and vitamin D they need, but this shortfall could be affecting more than their bones. It may, at least in part, be one reason behind the epidemic of type 2 diabetes drawing attention this November, Diabetes Awareness Month, suggests research conducted at Tufts University. Drinking more milk — a leading source of calcium and vitamin D in the American diet — could help decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes by nearly 15 percent, according to a meta-analysis and review published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.(1)

In the thorough analysis of previously published studies, the researchers found chronically low levels of vitamin D were linked to as high as 46 percent greater risk of type 2 diabetes. Yet boosting vitamin D alone would likely have little effect in healthy adults. Instead, the researchers suggested that a combination of vitamin D and calcium, like that found in milk, would have the greatest potential to help prevent diabetes.

Examining the intake of milk and milk products specifically, the researchers found there was nearly a 15 percent lower risk for type 2 diabetes among individuals with the highest dairy intake (3-5 servings per day) compared to those getting less than 1 1/2 servings each day.

This is especially important for Hispanics, who are among those at the highest risk for type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance syndrome (or pre-diabetes) affect a staggering 2.5 million Hispanic Americans over the age of twenty, according to the National Diabetes Education Program. They are also 1.9 times more likely to have diabetes than whites, according to the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse (NDIC), elevating the importance of finding new ways to treat and prevent this deadly disease for the Hispanic community. Milk is a primary source of calcium and vitamin D in the American diet. In fact, government reports indicate that more than 70 percent of the calcium in our nation’s food supply comes from milk and milk products. Additionally, milk is one of the few food sources of vitamin D, which is fast emerging as a “super nutrient.”

Most of the studies assessed were observational and the limited number of intervention trials makes definitive conclusions difficult, yet the Tufts researchers suggest calcium and vitamin D may affect the body’s ability to produce or utilize insulin, the hormone the body makes to process sugar that is impaired in those with diabetes and pre-diabetes.

Previous research has linked vitamin D levels to increased risk for diabetes, especially in certain Hispanic populations. One study found that Mexican Americans with the lowest vitamin D levels had nearly six times greater odds of having diabetes compared to those with the highest levels — a disparity that was substantially greater than the non-Hispanic whites included in the study.(2)

The recommended three servings of milk provide 900 mg of calcium and 300 IU of vitamin D daily and studies suggest the nutrients in three glasses of lowfat or fat free milk a day can help maintain a healthy weight — especially important for Hispanics, who are more likely to be overweight, adding to the risk for type 2 diabetes.

The Milk Processor Education Program (Milk PEP), Washington, D.C., is funded by the nation’s milk processors, who are committed to increasing fluid milk consumption. The Milk PEP Board runs the national Milk Mustache “got milk?” Campaign, a multi-faceted campaign designed to educate consumers about the health benefits of milk. For more information, go to The tagline “got milk?”(R) was created for the California Milk Processor Board by Goodby Silverstein & Partners and is licensed by the national milk processor and dairy producer groups.

(1) Pittas AG, Lau J, Hu FB, Dawson-Hughes B. REVIEW: The role of vitamin D and calcium in type 2 diabetes. A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. 2007;92:2017-2029.

(2) Scragg R, Sowers M, Bell C. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D, diabetes, and ethnicity in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Diabetes Care. 2004;27:2813-2818.


Research Gives Hispanics Another Reason to Drink Their Milk This Diabetes Month and Beyond