The Importance of Dairy
Raise your hand if you have heard or read that dairy is unhealthy! Today’s culture is saying that dairy is unhealthy, but that’s not true. Dairy is an excellent source of calcium, vitamin D, and protein. If your body is unable to tolerate dairy, soy milk is a great alternative. However, almond, oat, and coconut non-dairy sources do not contain the protein that is offered in dairy and soy products. For those who tolerate and digest dairy, dairy milk is an excellent option for strong and healthy bones and teeth.
What are our bones made of? The mineral calcium and vitamin D are two abundant nutrients that provide strength to the bones. As the body ages, bone strength decreases. At young ages, getting plenty of calcium and vitamin D will increase stores in the blood. Older individuals may have a more challenging time absorbing these nutrients, so getting calcium and vitamin D from the diet will replenish what is being lost.
Calcium is a major building block of bones, and if it is low in the diet, then the body will take it out from the bones. Increasing calcium in the diet, especially in ages below 35, will help the bones develop strength and density.
Vitamin D helps calcium in building strength in the bones. Vitamin D can come from the sun, as well as from fatty fish and vitamin D fortified foods. Adding vitamin D to the daily diet will help maintain bone strength.
Getting Dairy in Your Diet
The recommendations for these two nutrients vary with age. The daily value percentage is based on 1,300 mg calcium and 20 mcg vitamin D.
Dairy products can include milk, yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese, butter, and any variation.
Dairy milk is always a great option; it naturally contains a great deal of calcium and has been fortified with vitamin D. Consider drinking a glass with each meal.
Other ways to get dairy into your diet include:
- Eating yogurt with dried fruit or granola as a snack
- Snacking on cheese and fruit
- Freezing yogurt as a dessert