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June is Dairy Month

School's out, so daytime milk breaks have ended for kids. Keep dairy on your menu this summer, but not just for kids. We all need calcium and vitamin D to keep our bones strong, and potassium and protein to keep our heart and muscles working properly.
June is Dairy Month

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Milk is a convenient "nutrition package" with nine essential nutrients. We should aim for three servings of dairy every day, according to the 2015 U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Milk, yogurt, and cheese are included in the dairy group, and the guidelines recommend consuming low-fat or fat-free milk.

Some recent research featured on the news suggests that higher-fat milk products may have a protective effect against heart disease and diabetes. As research is published, recommendations are updated, so stay tuned. For now, remember that all types of milk contain about the same amount of calcium and vitamin D.

How Much Calcium Do I Need?

Find your age, gender and daily calcium recommendations in milligrams (mg) on the chart.

Quick Tip: Calcium is listed as a percentage daily value on Nutrition Facts labels. To convert to milligrams, add a zero. For example, 1 cup of milk provides 30 percent of the daily value or 300 milligrams calcium. (This conversion only works with calcium.) See for more calcium options.

What if members of my family cannot drink milk due to allergies or lactose intolerance?

Someone who is allergic to milk cannot consume milk because he or she may have life-threatening reactions. Be sure to look for the milk allergen statement ("Contains milk") right under the ingredient list on Nutrition Facts labels. Calcium-fortified soy beverages and other fortified foods and beverages would be an option for those allergic to milk.

People with lactose intolerance do not have enough of an enzyme (natural chemical that breaks down the sugar). When they drink milk, they might get gas, diarrhea, and stomachaches. Some people with lactose intolerance can tolerate yogurt or cheese better than fluid milk, or they can have milk with meals. Lactose-free dairy products are another option.


Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist, NDSU Extension Service

Featured in Food Wise June 2016 newsletter (PDF)

Filed under: nutrition, food and family
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