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Milk as a Business and a Beverage – Choices Matter

Milk as a Business and a Beverage – Choices Matter 11/15/19News broke earlier this week about America’s biggest milk processor filing for bankruptcy.  Dean Foods is the name of the company, and the steep decline in consumer’s milk consumption was cited as the reason for its demise. 

Since 1975, the amount of milk consumed per capita in America has tumbled more than 40%, a slide attributed to a number of reasons but mostly the rise of so many other choices, including teas, sodas, juices and almond and soy milk.

Milk is probably best known as a food that helps build strong bones and teeth.  Calcium, in combination with vitamin D and phosphorous, are nutrients in milk that are essential in building strong bones and teeth.  Not only is cow’s milk a good source of calcium, but the calcium in milk is also easily absorbed into our bodies. Teas, sodas, and juices don’t share that claim to fame. 

Many soy or almond milks are fortified with calcium to at least match the amount of calcium in dairy milk. However, our bodies may not absorb all of the calcium in soy milk since soy contains a natural compound (phytate) that inhibits calcium absorption.

The pre-teen and teen years are keys years for building up stores of calcium in our bones.  When calcium-rich foods and beverages are not plentiful in the diets of pre-teen and teenage children, the consequences can manifest themselves as “bankrupted bones” years down the road.  This is a message that may not resonate well with people who have more of a palate for immediate gratification than for persistence and perseverance over the long haul.

As for calcium, its role in building strong bones and teeth the only reason why it is important in our diets.  “But wait, there’s more!” is what an infomercial announcer would say about calcium. 

Although about 99 percent of the calcium in the body is found in the bones and teeth, that other one percent that is circulating is a workhorse.  Calcium is important for blood clotting, nerve transmission, maintaining muscle tone and regulating certain body processes. Recent research shows that adequate calcium also helps protect against heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, colon cancer, and other diseases.

The NDSU Extension publication, “Got Calcium,” includes a chart to access your need for and consumption of calcium-rich foods and beverages, plus strategies for addressing lactose intolerance and tips for increasing the calcium in your diet, even if you are not a milk drinker.  The publication is available from the Extension office or online at https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/publications/food-nutrition/got-calcium/fn587.pdf.

Sources:  https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/publications/food-nutrition/got-calcium/fn587.pdf, https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/mayo-clinic-q-and-a-dairy-milk-soy-milk-almond-milk-which-is-the-healthiest-choice-for-you/, and https://www.morningagclips.com/no-1-milk-company-declares-bankruptcy/

Photo Source: https://pixabay.com/photos/milk-glass-fresh-healthy-drink-2474993/ (downloaded 11/19/19)

 

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