The Dairy Food Group includes fluid milk products and many foods made from milk.   The nutrient calcium in milk products helps our bodies build and maintain bone mass throughout our lives.  Calcium may also help prevent colon and breast cancer, but more importantly, this mineral helps provides for the proper growth and maintenance of our bones and teeth.  Another aspect of calcium consumption is that it is we especially need it when we are young.  People who don’t get enough calcium when they are young are at increased risk from the painful and debilitating disease osteoporosis they are older. Osteoporosis causes bones to become brittle and to break more easily.

Although it’s possible to obtain calcium from food such as sardines, shellfish, and green leafy vegetables, the Milk Food Group represents the best source for calcium.  Milk is also a source of other nutrients our bodies need such as potassium, vitamin D, and protein.  That is why the Dietary Guidelines recommend that we consume at least three cups of milk or milk products per day.

However, when consuming dairy products, we need to be careful to monitor the fat content.  Certain dairy products, such as cheese, ice cream and whole milk, are known to be high in fat.  So when possible try to consume low-fat or non-fat dairy products (Skim and Low-Fat milks have more calcium than regular milk).