Health Benefits of Dairy

Dairy is packed with nutritional value

Many people know dairy foods are an important source of nutrients for growing children and teens. Milk and other dairy foods, however, are great sources of protein, calcium and vitamins for people in all walks of life, including adults, seniors and athletes. Dairy products are loaded with essential vitamins and minerals, including carbohydrates, protein, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, vitamins A, D, B12, riboflavin and niacin.

Just one 8-ounce serving of milk has 8 grams of protein, which builds and repairs muscle tissue (an equal serving of almond beverage has only 1 gram of protein). One serving of milk also meets the daily values (DV) for the following nutrients (based on Food and Drug Administration guidelines):

  • Calcium – 30 percent: Helps build and maintain strong bones and teeth
  • Riboflavin – 25 percent: Supports body growth, red blood cell production and metabolism
  • Phosphorus – 25 percent: Strengthens bones
  • Vitamin D – 25 percent: Helps promote the absorption of calcium
  • Vitamin B – 22 percent: Helps convert food into energy
  • Potassium – 11 percent: Regulates fluid balance and helps maintain normal blood pressure
  • Vitamin A – 10 percent: Promotes good vision and healthy skin
  • Niacin – 10 percent: Promotes proper circulation

Health Benefits of Dairy - Swimming Athlete Athlete with Chocolate Milk Bottle

Dairy’s Health Benefits

Bone Health

Today there are 10 million Americans with osteoporosis and an additional 18 million with low bone mass—putting them at risk for osteoporosis. Women are four times more likely to develop the disease, but older men are also susceptible. Although more research is needed to understand the role of dietary protein on bone health, studies show the protein and calcium in milk may play a critical role in bone health and density, thereby decreasing the risk for osteoporosis. Three daily servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy provide essential nutrients that work together to build strong bones.

Researchers have found:

  • Postmenopausal women who consumed a diet low in protein were associated with having a 44 percent increase in the risk of osteoporotic fractures and women who consumed a diet low in calcium were associated with having a 29 percent increase in osteoporotic fractures (Melton, LJ, et al. Relative Contributions of Bone Density, Bone Turnover, and Clinical Risk Factors to Long-Term Fracture Prediction. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research. 2003; 18: 312-318).
  • Low-protein diets may decrease intestinal calcium absorption – and are associated with reduced bone mass in most observational studies (Kerstetter, J.E. et al. Low Protein Intake: The Impact on Calcium and Bone Homeostasis. The Journal of Nutrition. 2003; 133: 855S-861S).
  • Eating foods rich in calcium may offset a possible protein-calcium loss relationship, improving overall bone health (Dawson-Hughes, B. Interaction of Dietary Calcium and Protein in Bone Health in Humans. The Journal of Nutrition. 2003; 133: 852S-854S).

More on dairy and its impact on bone health.

Type 2 Diabetes

A growing body of research indicates that dairy food consumption is associated with multiple health benefits, including lower risk for Type 2 Diabetes.

More on dairy’s impact on weight and type 2 diabetes.

Heart Health/Blood Pressure Control

Calcium, potassium and magnesium—minerals all found in dairy foods—may play an important role in maintaining healthy blood pressure. Potassium, in particular, helps regulate fluids and mineral balance in the body to maintain a healthy blood pressure. This is an important role, considering one in three Americans is living with hypertension. Without consuming three servings of dairy foods daily, it may be difficult to meet potassium requirements.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans encourage children and adults to enjoy three servings of low-fat or fat-free milk, cheese or yogurt each day. Potassium plays such an important role in blood pressure regulation and stroke prevention that the Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of this health claim for foods that are naturally low in sodium, fat and cholesterol and provide at least 350 mg of potassium per serving. Three servings of dairy foods contain a total of about 1200 mg of potassium.

More on dairy’s impact on heart health.

Low Fat Chocolate Milk Health Benefits Health Benefits of Chocolate Milk

Benefits of Chocolate Milk: For the Athlete

Dairy nutrition helps athletes of all levels and ages get the perfect balance of nutrients to improve overall performance and health. From bone building to muscle strengthening, the dairy nutrients in flavored milk provide a variety of positive health benefits. Low-fat chocolate milk is the drink of choice for many athletes for several reasons.

Low-fat chocolate milk is:

  • A delicious source of high-quality protein to build lean muscle, without the added sugar of most sports drinks
  • The right carbohydrate-to- protein ratio scientifically proven to refuel and rebuild exhausted muscles
  • A great source of vitamin A to support a healthy immune system and normal vision
  • A great source of electrolytes, including calcium, potassium, sodium and magnesium to help replenish what’s lost in sweat
  • A source of B vitamins for energy
  • An excellent source of fluids for rehydration
  • A source of calcium, vitamin D, phosphorus, protein and potassium to build and maintain strong bones and help reduce the risk for stress fractures

Low-fat chocolate milk can also be part of a delicious snack for children and adults. When you include low-fat chocolate milk and other dairy products in fun ways like this, you can improve your family’s dairy nutrition and ultimately ensure better bone health.

Visit Built with Chocolate Milk for more information.

Rebuild Your Muscles

With 8 grams of high-quality protein in every 8-ounce serving, milk has what athletes need to build and rebuild muscle.

  • Studies found people who drank regular or flavored milk after a rigorous workout experienced less exercise-induced muscle damage than those who drank typical sports drinks or water.1-2
  • In one study, post-exercise muscle biopsies in eight moderately trained male runners showed enhanced skeletal muscle protein synthesis after drinking 16 ounces of fat-free chocolate milk compared to when they drank a carbohydrate-only sports beverage with the same amount of calories. This enhancement is a sign that muscles were better able to repair and rebuild.3
  • In one study, healthy untrained volunteers were randomly assigned to receive a drink containing either different types of milk protein (casein or whey protein) or a placebo one-hour after performing a round of resistance training. Consumption of both types of milk protein brought about a similar positive net muscle protein balance, indicating whole protein consumption can stimulate muscle protein synthesis after resistance exercise, which over time can lead to increased muscle size and strength.4
  • Researchers have also hypothesized that a combination of “slow” and “fast” proteins like casein and whey—both found in dairy milk—is most effective for building muscle. Eight volunteers drank fluid milk or a soy protein beverage—equal in protein, carbohydrates, fat and calories—after a round of weight lifting. The researchers found that while both protein beverages (soy or milk) resulted in a positive net muscle protein balance and muscle protein synthesis, milk consumption after exercise resulted in a greater net muscle protein balance, and 34 percent more muscle protein synthesis compared to soy.5

More on the benefits of flavored milk.

1. Cockburn E, Hayes PR, French DN, Stevenson E, St Clair Gibson A. Acute milk-based protein-CHO supplementation attenuates exercise-induced muscle damage. Applied Physiology, Nutrition & Metabolism. 2008;33:775-783.
2. Cockburn E, Stevenson E, Hayes PR, Robson-Ansley P, Howatson G, Effect of milk-based carbohydrate-protein supplement timing on the attenuation of exercise-induced muscular damage. Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism. 2010;35:270-277.
3. Lunn WR, Colletto MR, Karfonta KE, Anderson JM, Pasiakos SM, Ferrando AA, Wolfe RR, Rodriguez NR. Chocolate milk consumption following endurance exercise affects skeletal muscle protein fractional synthetic rate and intracellular signaling. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.2010;42:S48.
4. Tipton K, Elliott T, Cree M, Wolf S, Sanford A, Wolfe R. Ingestion of casein and whey proteins result in muscle anabolism after resistance exercise. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2004;36: 2073-2081.
5. Wilkinson S, Tarnopolsky M, MacDonald M, MacDonald J, Armstrong D, Phillips S. Consumption of fat-free fluid milk after resistance exercise promotes greater lean mass accretion than does consumption of soy or carbohydrate in young, novice, male weightlifters. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2007;85:1031–40.