National Dairy Month is in full swing. Milk, yogurt and cheese are celebrated during June.

Nutrient rich dairy foods are one of the most affordable sources of healthy nutrition. Dairy products provide a unique variety of nine essential nutrients: calcium, potassium, phosphorus, protein, vitamins A, D, B12, riboflavin and niacin.

The essential proteins found in dairy are more effectively absorbed by the body compared to soy, almond, wheat or rice proteins. Milk substitutes and their added calcium cannot equal the absorbability of calcium from cow’s milk.

Milk, yogurt and cheese are not just for the young. Although, the prime time to stockpile the body with a lifetime supply of calcium is during the teen years.

It takes three cups of broccoli to equal the same amount of calcium in an 8-ounce glass of milk. An 8-ounce serving of plain yogurt has as much potassium as a banana.

An 8-ounce glass of skim milk has only 80 calories and zero grams of fat. That’s less than a soda-pop, cola or a juice drink. Low-fat and fat-free milk, yogurt and cheese are just as nutritious as dairy foods made from whole milk, just lower in fat and calories. Protein and carbohydrates are the same no matter the color of the cap on the gallon of milk.

A daily dose of dairy is physician recommended. New research continues to verify that dairy foods affect blood pressure and overall heart health in people after their childhood. Children and adults need three servings each day because of its unique combination of proteins, carbohydrates, calcium, and eight other vitamins and minerals. A serving of milk is 8 ounces.

A daily yogurt is associated with a lower risk of severe periodontal (gum) disease and tooth loss in people who do not smoke. More studies have linked dairy products with asthma. Girls who did not regularly drink milk and were overweight have more than a three times greater possibility of having breathing problems.

It’s the calcium and protein in milk that helps prevent osteoporosis. Researchers also note that in addition to calcium, milk provides potassium and phosphorus, further enhancing the bone-strengthening effect of dietary protein.

For men who smoke, promising new research shows that dairy foods may provide protection against prostate cancer, the most common type of non-skin cancer affecting men. These new studies suggest that a higher intake of dairy foods may help protect current smokers from aggressive prostate cancer.

Drinking low-fat milk after exercise may promote rehydration better than water or sports drinks. Milk is more effective at replacing exercise-induced fluid losses and maintaining hydration in the post-exercise period.

Studies with elderly eaters show that several components of cheese, including the amino acid tyramine, may be responsible for its association with improved cognitive function. Choosing only one ounce of cheese as a daily snack can help your brain think better. Ponder this, celebrate June by increasing your dairy intake.


Bobbie Randall

Contributing columnist

Bobbie Randall is a certified diabetes educator, registered, licensed dietitian. She supervises a Diabetes Self-Management Training Program at Dunlap Community Hospital, Orrville, Ohio. Contact her at [email protected].