This information has been reviewed and adapted for use in South Carolina by J. G. Hunter, HGIC Information Specialist, and K. L. Cason, Professor, State EFNEP Coordinator, Clemson University. (New 10/05.)
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005 recommends that most adults and children daily consume at least 3 cups of fat-free or low-fat milk, or equivalent amounts of yogurt or cheese. This is in combination with a healthy diet and is based on getting 2,000 calories. Children aged two to eight need 2 cups per day.
Milk is represented by the blue band on MyPyramid, USDA’s latest food guide, which shows that foods from all groups are needed daily for good health.
Consuming more fat-free or low-fat milk products, along with vegetables, fruits, and whole grains has important health benefits for most Americans. Diets that include milk products tend to have a higher overall nutritional quality.
If you do not or can not consume milk, choose lactose-free and lactose-reduced products, or eat other foods that are good calcium sources. Other sources of calcium include: canned fish with bones, nuts, fruits, vegetables, dried beans, rice beverages, molasses, some leafy greens, calcium-fortified foods and beverages, and soy products, including tempeh. The amount of calcium that the body can absorb from these foods varies.
A calcium-rich diet that includes milk and milk products is important to bone health. Children and adolescents need calcium to build their peak bone mass, which is reached by age twenty. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, building strong bones during childhood and adolescence can be the best defense against developing osteoporosis, or brittle bone disease, later in life. Bone mass must be maintained in later years as well.
The milk group includes all fluid milk products and foods made from milk that retain their calcium content, such as yogurt and cheese.
Milk: all fluid milk—fat-free (skim), low-fat (1%), reduced fat (2%) and whole milk; flavored milks, such as chocolate and strawberry; lactose-reduced milks and lactose-free milks.
Milk-based desserts: puddings made with milk, frozen yogurt, ice milk and ice cream.
Cheese: hard natural cheeses (cheddar, mozzarella, Swiss, parmesan), soft cheeses (ricotta and cottage cheese) and processed cheeses (American).
Yogurt: all yogurt—fat-free, low-fat, reduced fat, and whole milk yogurt.
Note: Cream, cream cheese, and butter contain little or no calcium and are not part of this food group.
Calcium builds stronger bones and teeth and maintains bone mass. It also helps muscles and nerves to work properly, helps the blood to clot and may help to reduce weight gain. Milk and milk products are the primary source of calcium in American diets, providing over 70% of our calcium.
Potassium may reduce the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. Yogurt and fluid milk are two milk products that are good sources.
Vitamin D is like a key that unlocks the door and lets the body absorb calcium. It maintains proper levels of calcium and phosphorous, which helps to build and maintain bones. Good sources are: sunlight, vitamin D-fortified milk, vitamin D-fortified ready-to-eat breakfast cereals and vitamin D-fortified yogurt. It is not necessary to consume vitamin D and calcium at the same time to get the benefit of enhanced calcium absorption.
Protein builds, repairs and maintains all body tissues, and provides energy when carbohydrates and fats are in short supply.
The recommended daily amount of food needed from the milk group depends on age. Older children and adults need 3 cups every day, while children ages two through eight need 2 cups.
These amounts are appropriate for people who get less than 30 minutes per day of moderate physical activity, beyond normal daily activities. If you are more physically active, you may be able to consume more while staying within your calorie needs.
The table below lists the milligrams of calcium recommended for every age level. Pregnant women and nursing mothers’ needs are the same as others in their age level.
|* Growth spurt
Source: The 2004 Surgeon General’s Report on Bone Health and Osteoporosis: What It Means to You. http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/bonehealth
|0 to 6 months||210|
|7 to 12 months||270|
|1 to 3 years||500|
|4 to 8 years||800|
|9 to 18 years||1,300*|
|19 to 50 years||1,000|
|Over 50 years||1,200|
Most calcium should come from the diet. Since most Americans do not get enough calcium, however, calcium fortified foods and calcium supplements can help meet their daily need.
1 cup = 1 cup milk or yogurt = 1½ ounces of hard natural cheese (cheddar, mozzarella, Swiss, parmesan) = 2 ounces of processed cheese (American)
Other amounts that count as a cup of milk:
Milk* 1 half-pint container, ½ cup evaporated milk
Yogurt* 1 regular container (8 fluid ounces)
Cheese (choose low-fat most often) ⅓ cup shredded cheese, ½ cup ricotta cheese, 2 cups cottage cheese
Milk-based desserts* 1 cup pudding made with milk, 1 cup frozen yogurt, 1½ cups ice cream
*Choose fat-free or low-fat most often.
Some milk products are commonly available in other portion sizes that do not count as one serving, or one cup of milk. For example, one small container of yogurt is only 6 ounces, or ¾ cup milk. One scoop of ice cream is equal to ⅓ cup milk.
The Dietary Guidelines recommend that no more than 10% of total calories come from saturated fat. Therefore, focus on fat-free or low-fat versions of your favorite foods from the milk group, because they contain fewer calories and little or no solid fat. Yogurt and skim milk are excellent fat-free or low-fat choices that are rich sources of calcium. Choose light versions of yogurt that do not contain much added sugars.
Other low-fat and fat-free milk group choices include: fat-free sour cream, fat-free half-n-half, and low-fat ice cream. There are many other fat-free and low-fat milk products that contain no added sugars, making them consistent with an overall healthy diet, also. Cream cheese, cream, and butter, which are all made from milk, are not part of this food group, because they contain little or no calcium and are high in fat.
Choosing foods from the milk group that are high in saturated fats and cholesterol can raise LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels in the blood and increase your risk for coronary heart disease. Whole milk, many cheeses, and products made from them are high in saturated fat, so limit the amount you eat.
The following chart explains how the fat content is determined in the different types of fluid milk.
|Type of Milk||Amount of Fat*|
|*Amount of fat by weight, not calories.|
|Whole||3.25 % fat by weight|
|Reduced-fat (2%)||25% less fat than whole milk|
|Low-fat (1%)||50% less fat than whole milk|
|Fat-free (skim)||0.5% or less fat by weight|
Here is a comparison in the amount of calories, calcium, fat and cholesterol in various milk types.
|* Figures are rounded.
Source: National Dairy Council
|Regular (8 oz.)|
|Chocolate (8 oz.)|
|Evaporated (4 oz.)|
Do not avoid milk and milk products because of concerns that these foods lead to weight gain. Studies show that low-fat milk products may provide weight loss benefits to adults, and children who consume low-fat milk, cheese and yogurt have less body fat.
Some people lack the enzyme lactase, which is needed to digest lactose, or milk sugar. This condition, lactose intolerance, does not involve the immune system like a food allergy does. Symptoms of lactose intolerance include gas, bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea and nausea. The severity of symptoms is often related to how much lactose is consumed and when it is consumed in relation to other foods.
If you have lactose intolerance, the most reliable way to get the health benefits of milk is to choose milk products that are either lactose-free or lactose-reduced (70% less lactose). Always start with small amounts of milk products containing lactose and gradually increase the portion size to determine your tolerance level. Another solution is to take the enzyme lactase before consuming a milk product or along with it.
Try dairy foods other than milk. Many hard cheeses (cheddar, Swiss, Parmesan) have less lactose than milk. Yogurt made with live, active bacteria is also a good choice.
Eat lactose-containing foods and beverages in combination with a meal or solid foods rather than alone. This slows the release of lactose into the digestive tract, making it easier to digest.
If you choose not to eat dairy products, then consume other calcium-rich foods and beverages that contain all the nutrients provided by the milk group. Calcium fortified foods and beverages provide calcium, but they may not contain the other nutrients found in milk. Use food labels to identify good sources of calcium, or refer to the chart below.
|Non-Dairy Sources of Calcium||Amount||Calcium (mg)|
|For additional foods, refer to the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 18.|
|Calcium-fortified soymilk||1 cup||350|
|Calcium-fortified orange juice||1 cup||350|
|Oatmeal made with milk||1 cup||300|
|Sardines with bones (no salt)||3 oz.||325|
|Calcium-fortified dry cereal||1 oz.||200-300|
|Collards, cooked||1 cup||266|
|Salmon with bones (no salt)||3 oz.||180|
|Blackstrap molasses||1 Tbsp.||172|
|Turnip greens, cooked||½ cup||124|
|Ocean perch||3 oz.||116|
|Cowpeas, cooked||½ cup||106|
|Tofu with calcium||3 oz.||30-100|
|Kale, cooked||1 cup||90|
|Broccoli, cooked||1 cup||71|
|Other veggies and most fruit||1 cup||10-60|
Bones are like a bank account in which calcium and other minerals are deposited to make them strong. When the body needs calcium elsewhere, it withdraws calcium from the bones. Depositing enough calcium during childhood and adolescence helps build strong bones, and withdrawals will not leave you with weak bones later in life.
When you are older, you withdraw more calcium from bones than you deposit. If more calcium is withdrawn from the bones than is deposited, the bones become weaker and very brittle, resulting in a condition called osteoporosis. This leads to an increased risk of bone fractures, typically in the wrist, hip and spine.
People who are at greatest risk for osteoporosis include those who are:
The incidence of osteoporosis is likely to rise as baby boomers age. To reduce your risk:
For more information, visit the National Osteoporosis Foundation web site at http://www.nof.org/osteoporosis/stats.htm
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