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Dairy Council Digest Archives


Foods naturally rich in calcium, such as dairy products, are the preferred source of calcium (4,8,9,23,53,67-70). Consuming at least the recommended number of servings of dairy foods each day increases intake of not only calcium and other nutrients essential for building and maintaining healthy bones, but it also improves the overall nutritional quality of the diet (15,68,71). As reviewed in a recent Digest (71), there is increasing support among government and health professional organizations to recommend 3 to 4 servings of dairy foods a day to meet calcium needs.

Calcium-fortified foods and/or calcium supplements can help close the calcium gap for individuals unable to consume sufficient dietary calcium. However, their use does not solve the underlying problem of inadequate dietary patterns of food selection, which are responsible for Americans’ generally low calcium intake (68,72). The bioavailability of calcium in some calcium-fortified beverages may be less than expected (69,73). On the other hand, calcium fortification of widely consumed foods may lead to excess calcium intake for some groups (74). Increasing calcium intake from calcium supplements in the absence of an otherwise healthy diet may lead to nutrient imbalances (e.g., phosphorus deficiency), which could potentially harm bones (75).


Bone building and maintenance throughout the lifecycle require a continuous supply of calcium, protein, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and vitamins A, D, and K – nutrients found in dairy products.


To build and maintain healthy bones throughout life and prevent osteoporosis, health professionals recommend a nutritionally balanced diet with adequate calcium and vitamin D, regular weightbearing exercise, and a healthy lifestyle with no smoking and limited alcohol intake (1-4,9,23,69,70).

Efforts such as the "3-A-DayTM of Dairy for Stronger Bones" campaign ( ) and the Surgeon General’s report (1) aim to increase awareness of the importance of achieving and maintaining healthy bones throughout life and strategies to prevent and treat osteoporosis.


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Table of Contents:


Dairy’s Health Benefits

Getting three servings of low-fat or fat-free, nutrient-rich dairy foods every day plays a crucial role in helping to promote bone health, healthy blood pressure and a healthy weight.

Dairy’s Unique Nutrient Combination

Together, low-fat and fat-free milk, cheese and yogurt deliver a unique combination of nutrients. Learn more about these nine essential nutrients and their role in building strong bones, a healthy diet, and more.