Kids' Lack of Dairy Foods Cuts Important Nutrients

John DavisAg Group, Dairy, Food, National Dairy Council, Nutrition

ndc1If the question is “got milk?” unfortunately, for too many Americans kids the answer is “Nope.” This news release from the National Dairy Council (NDC) says that by the time many children reach kindergarten, they consume fewer nutrient-rich dairy foods than recommended by the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. In addition, as they reach their teen years and turn to even more unhealthy sugary beverages, they’re losing out on the vital nutrients building healthy bones.

Evidence for the three or more servings of dairy foods each day, as well as the importance of calcium and vitamin D for bone health, are supported by recent publications from the American Academy of Pediatrics and Canadian Medical Association Journal. Dairy foods’ (milk, cheese and yogurt) have a unique ability to provide these important nutrients many children are lacking, and are diverse enough to fit three servings into many nutrient-dense dietary patterns, from a Mediterranean diet to Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) and MyPlate eating plans.

The NDC goes on to cite the American Academy of Pediatrics’ information that shows that cow’s milk intake in childhood and adolescence is associated with high bone mineral content and reduced risk of fracture in adulthood. The group also says that milk alternatives, such as soy- or almond-based beverages, could have a reduced amounts of bioavailable calcium per glass, even when fortified with calcium.

“Children are our greatest national resource. It is critical to ensure a nutritious and sustainable food system that allows our future generations to grow and flourish. These publications further emphasize we simply cannot understate the important role of dairy foods in children’s diets,” states Jean Ragalie-Carr, RDN, LDN, President of National Dairy Council. “Adding just one more serving of milk, cheese, or yogurt each day is an easy way to help close nutrient gaps and nourish our growing population.”