HI A.----I have learned in a series of classes taught by a Naturopath who has her PhD in Nutrition that cows milk is not meant for humans. Cows milk is a highly allergenic food, and is implicated in Type 1 diabetes, acne, asthma and several other health problems, so subtle as to seldom be related to milk.
I am a reformed cows milk drinker. My family and I used to go through about 3 gallons every 2 days. But after reading long term research, we have stopped dairy. Please go to www.strongbones.org and to www.pcrm.org to learn more. Also, check these sites:
Feel free to contact me if you'd like more information on this subject. The research is clear, humans should not drink cows milk. But, you shouldn't take my word for it, please read the research for yourself. It is little known, but it makes sense that all of the advice to drink milk comes from the dairy manufacturers...can't blame them that they want to sell more milk. But cows milk is formulated to make baby cows grow into big cows as quickly as possible. I won't even get into the ethical issues of how cows are treated in todays large scale milking operations. It's unconscionable. Did you know that a cow can live 25 years or longer? But a dairy farm cow has to be 'put down' after 5 years of constant milking.
So, what are we to do as we are told that we are to get our calcium from milk? First, a balance and varied diet will get a body all of the calcium it needs on a daily basis. You will consume more absorbable calcium from leafy green veggies, without the saturated fat (and skim milk still has fat in it...plus skim concentrates the dangerous milk proteins). All plant milks are reasonable substitutes, you'll just have to find the one you like best. I prefer almond, it has fewer carbs that rice. My daughter likes soy, but I only use soy for cooking. And soy IS a healthful food, as long as it is organic/non-GMA, even for boys. That is another subject where there is a ton of misinformation out there. Please contact me before you make any decisions there. Again, I have tons of research I can share that will help.
Many healthful foods are enriched with calcium, such as orange juice. So, I hope that this has offered some info to help make your decision.
We simply drink water with meals. Good luck, in health, D.