NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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Milk for Adults

Milk for Adults


Milk has long been touted for its health benefits for young children and growing teens. “Milk builds strong bones” is a phrase almost every child has heard.  But what about milk for other age groups?  Milk for adults?    

Many adults restrict their dairy intake based on the assumption that dairy products are fattening and that milk is no longer crucial for the body’s health after adolescence. Milk is rich in many vitamins, minerals and protein and research shows that a few daily servings of low-fat milk or milk products may ward off heart and bone diseases while keeping your tummy trim.


Nutritional Value

According to the National Dairy Council, milk is filled with nine essential nutrients that benefit our health:

  • Calcium: Builds healthy bones and teeth; maintains bone mass
  • Protein: Serves as a source of energy; builds/repairs muscle tissue
  • Potassium: Helps maintain a healthy blood pressure
  • Phosphorus: Helps strengthen bones and generate energy
  • Vitamin D: Helps maintain bones
  • Vitamin B12: Maintains healthy red blood cells and nerve tissue
  • Vitamin A: Maintains the immune system; helps maintain normal vision and skin
  • Riboflavin (B2): Converts food into energy
  • Niacin: Metabolizes sugars and fatty acids
  • Each 1 cup serving of milk provides more than 30 percent of the daily value for calcium, 25 percent for riboflavin, 17 percent for vitamin B-12 and, when fortified, 30 percent for vitamin D and 10 percent for vitamin A.  


    Recommended Intake

    Milks higher in fat are calorie dense and provide unhealthier saturated and trans fats. For these reasons, adults should choose fat-free and low-fat milk products. For example, swap whole milk for skim milk or enjoy plain non-fat yogurt without added sugar.

    Serving sizes of milk products vary, so check the nutrition facts label on each product. Milk products that are equivalent to 1 cup of milk include 1 cup of yogurt or milk-based pudding, 2 cups of cottage cheese, 2 ounces of American cheese and 1.5 ounces of hard cheese, like cheddar, mozzarella and Swiss.


    Strong Bones

    Your body stores 99 percent of its calcium in your bones, where it supports bone structure and function. The recommended dietary allowances for calcium are 1,000 to 1,300 milligrams for children and adolescents, 1,000 milligrams for adults and 1,200 milligrams for the elderly. By consuming three servings of milk each day, you can achieve the RDA for calcium. Women are at greater risk for bone disease, like osteoporosis, than men. According to the National Dairy Council, approximately 88 percent of adult women do not meet the RDA for calcium and are at high risk for bone disease.


    Healthy Heart

    High blood pressure is a major risk factor for adults for cardiovascular disease, heart attack and stroke. The minerals calcium, potassium and magnesium interact with one another to regulate your blood pressure levels. These three minerals are abundant in milk, and are a major reason why many research studies have observed a beneficial link between milk and blood pressure. One study published in the "Journal of the American College of Nutrition." concluded that an intake of dairy foods in conjunction with a reduced-sodium diet was beneficial for lowering blood pressure, particularly in individuals with existing high blood pressure.


    Weight Management

    The “Journal of the American College of Nutrition” included a review noting that increased dietary calcium was linked to a general reduction in body fat, and especially body weight and fat loss for participants in a calorie-restricted dietary regimen. Participants studied on these regimens were also less likely to regain weight after a period of weight loss while adhering to increased calcium intake levels.


    Fighting Tooth Decay

    Tooth decay can happen at any age, and regularly ingesting dairy products, like milk, protects against such decay. Drinking milk lessens oral acidity, one contributing factor for decay. Drinking milk also stimulates saliva flow, which is one of the mouth’s primary defenses against decay, as it carries essential nutrients -- like the calcium found in milk -- to the teeth. Additionally, consuming milk lessens the incidence of plaque formation and results in fewer cavities.

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