Health Watch

by Peter Huth and Gregory Miller


Dairy products have long been recognized as nutrient-dense foods that contain essential nutrients for growth and development.
Many of the health benefits associated with dairy consumption may be attributed to dairy’s “nutrient package” — including calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorous, protein, vitamins A and D, riboflavin, B12 and niacin. In fact, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005 (DGA) now recommend that virtually all Americans should consume three servings of dairy foods each day to help meet their nutrient needs — especially those nutrients whose intakes are low enough to be of concern.
For adults, “nutrients of concern” were identified as vitamins A, C and E, and calcium, magnesium, potassium and fiber. Dairy is a primary food source for four of these — calcium, magnesium, potassium and vitamin A. DGA also recognizes that increasing the intakes of certain foods — especially lowfat and fat-free dairy products, fruits, vegetables and whole grains — is likely to have long-term health benefits. To this end, the new guidelines have endorsed the 2005 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, report saying:
“Consuming three servings of milk and milk products each day can reduce the risk of low bone mass and contribute important amounts of many nutrients. Furthermore, this amount of milk product consumption may have additional benefits and is not associated with increased body weight. Therefore, the intake of three cups of milk products per day is recommended.
This recommendation is based on scientific evidence that shows the high value of dairy as a nutrient dense food and health benefits related to reducing the risk of chronic diseases.  
Dairy and bone health — The intake of dairy foods is especially important to bone health during childhood and adolescents for the development of peak bone mass. There is strong, consistent evidence that the daily intake of three servings of dairy products can help reduce the risk of low bone mass and protect against osteoporosis.
Dairy and cardiovascular health — The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet — which includes three servings a day of lowfat dairy products — has been shown to significantly lower blood pressure and to have other health benefits. Additionally, emerging research suggests that three or more servings of milk products per day may help reduce the risk of the metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.
Dairy and weight control — The DGA stresses that there is no reason to avoid dairy foods because of weight gain concerns. There is no evidence that three daily servings of dairy foods increase body weight. In fact, a growing body of science indicates that three servings of dairy foods per day, as part of a calorie-restricted diet, reduces body weight and body fat better than just limiting calories alone.  
All in all, a strong body of science shows that dairy foods provide good nutrition for all Americans and may reduce the risk of certain chronic diseases. Dairy Management Inc. (DMI), in conjunction with dairy industry partners, has launched the 3-A-Day™ of Dairy nutrition-based marketing and education campaign that promotes the health benefits of dairy directly to consumers. The clear and actionable 3-A-Day of Dairy nutrition messages and claims are consistent with the new DGA to consume three servings of dairy foods each day.
To learn more visit
Peter Huth, Ph.D., director, regulatory and research transfer, and Gregory Miller, Ph.D., senior vice president, nutrition and product innovation, are with the National Dairy Council, the nutrition research and education arm of DMI.
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