A charity is warning that dairy-free diet could be a “ticking time bomb” for the bone health of young people.
A National Osteoporosis Society survey found that around 20 per cent of under-25s are following dairy-free or dairy-reduced diets.
The charity say that many young adults were putting their health at risk by doing so.
Eliminating milk products can be harmful, unless the key nutrients are replaced in another form, says the society.
The charity surveyed 2,000 adults, including 239 under the age of 25 and 339 aged 25-35.
It is suggested in the survey that young people’s dietary choices are being increasingly influenced by vloggers and bloggers.
The charity is concerned some people are becoming too restrictive, and not eating a varied enough diet.
A recent Food Standards Agency survey found that nearly 50 per cent of 16-24 year olds said they suffer from lactose intolerance, compared to just 8 per cent of over-75s.
However, only 24 per cent of these had been diagnosed by a doctor.
Prof Susan Lanham-New, head of nutritional sciences at the University of Surrey and clinical advisor to the National Osteoporosis Society, said: “Diet in early adulthood is so important because by the time we get into our late 20s it is too late to reverse the damage caused by poor diet and nutrient deficiencies and the opportunity to build strong bones has passed.”
The recommended daily intake of calcium for an adult is 700mg, however for those aged between 11 and 18 the recommendation is closer to 1000mg.
However, it is thought that a quarter of teenagers in the UK consume less than the minimum recommendation of 400mg of calcium every day.
A spokeswoman from the British Nutrition Foundation said: “While it’s not necessarily dangerous to cut out dairy from your diet it’s important to ensure you get enough calcium from other sources.
“Dairy tends to make the biggest contribution to our calcium intakes and so this needs to be replaced by other sources such as bread, cereal, canned fish, nuts, seeds and leafy green vegetables as well as choosing dairy alternatives that are fortified with calcium.”
The osteoporosis charity said that the consumption of calcium and vitamin D, such as dairy products, green leafy vegetables, salmon, sardines, broccoli and baked beans, is especially important to under-25s.
Half of all women and one in five men develop osteoporosis, a bone condition that causes fractures of the hip, wrist and spine.