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Your Nutrition Jackpot: Dairy

Dairy consumption in the US has been declining steadily since the end of World War II. There are significant and potentially serious health consequences of this trend.

Reasons for dairy avoidance:

  1. Personal Choices
  2. Inconvenience or reduced availability
    1. Fast food meals most often come with a carbonated beverage
    2. Milk is seldom an option in vending machines
  3. On the advice of health professionals
    1. Because of kidney stones
    2. Calcium deposits around their joints
    3. Skin conditions that are difficult to treat
    4. Lactose intolerance
  4. These disease connected reasons are almost always misguided.

Consequences of dairy avoidance:

  1. Diet Quality: extremely difficult, as….
    1. Dairy products are superior sources not only of calcium, but also of protein, potassium, magnesium, niacin, vitamins A & D, Vitamin B12, riboflavin, phosphorus, and essential fatty acids. Dairy poor diets have been shown repeatedly to be deficient in these nutrients.
  2. Bone Health-As the US Surgeon General’s Report on bone stressed, calcium is critically important for bone health.
    1. People who avoid dairy have reduced bone mass and increased risk of fragility fractures even in childhood.
    2. To build new bone it takes calcium, above average protein intake, and adequate Vitamin D status. Cow’s milk, rich in all three of these nutrients, takes care of that automatically.
    3. Calcium supplements and/or plant based alternative beverages are not adequate substitutes for dairy as they do not contain the additional nutrients.
  3. Weight Management
    1. Children with low dairy intakes are at higher risk of being overweight or obese.
    2. Adults with low dairy intake have higher levels of body fat.
    3. High dairy intakes have been associated with a lower risk of metabolic syndrome, hypertension and colon cancer.
    4. The protein in dairy products is the richest source of branched chain amino acids in the diet. In weight reduction diets, these amino acids help to preserve lean muscle mass, forcing the weight loss to be predominantly fat tissue.
  4. Cardiovascular Disease
    1. Dairy’s role in reducing hypertension is proven in the DASH (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension) trial, which is an eating plan high in potassium, calcium, magnesium and protein and includes three servings of low fat dairy per day.
  5. High dairy consumers have an excellent quality diet which improves longevity.


  1. The most important first step is for individuals and their health care professionals to recognize the health benefits of dairy foods and make a personal commitment to try to increase dairy intake.
  2. Recognize that current research indicates a calcium rich diet does not promote formation of kidney stones, and, in fact, protects against this. Also, calcium deposits in joints have no link to calcium intake.
  3. For lactose intolerance, individuals can enjoy yogurt, hard cheese, and lactose free products, e.g. milk, cottage cheese, ice cream, and/or lactase enzyme supplements, e.g. Lactaid


CHI Health Food and Nutrition Services Team
CHI Health Food and Nutrition Services Team

These blogs are written by members of the CHI Health Nutrition Services team.

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