dairy intake is about more than just calcium

Why your dairy intake is about more than just calcium

Sydney Morning Herald x Dr Courtney Thompson

Supported by: Dairy Australia

Every few months an exotic berry or leafy green is named the latest superfood. At the same time, a nutritional gem, and one of the biggest superfoods, is hiding in plain sight: dairy products like milk, cheese and yoghurt might not have the novelty of a modern superfood, but they pack a powerful punch when it comes to nutrition.


To read more about increasing your dairy intake, click HERE.


Why your dairy intake is about more than just calcium


The importance of dairy products in our diet often gets overshadowed by the hype surrounding trendy superfoods. However, dairy stands as a nutritional powerhouse, providing a unique blend of essential vitamins and minerals crucial for good health.

Despite its nutritional benefits, a significant portion of the population falls short of meeting the recommended daily intake of dairy. This shortfall can be attributed to various factors, including the preference for less nutritious options like discretionary foods.

Dairy products offer not only convenience and affordability but also essential nutrients such as calcium, vital for bone health. While calcium can be sourced from other foods, achieving the required intake without dairy can be challenging due to the quantity needed from alternative sources.

Moreover, dairy is rich in a plethora of other nutrients like vitamins A and B12, riboflavin, potassium, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, and protein, which play crucial roles in various bodily functions ranging from maintaining healthy blood and nervous systems to supporting energy levels and growth.

What sets dairy apart is the synergistic interaction between its nutrients, known as the “dairy matrix,” which contributes to its overall health-promoting properties. Recent shifts in nutrition science have emphasized the importance of studying whole foods rather than individual nutrients alone, highlighting the holistic benefits of consuming dairy.

Research indicates that regular consumption of dairy products is associated with a reduced risk of several chronic diseases, including heart disease, stroke, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and colorectal cancer – all significant contributors to mortality rates in Australia.

Dairy remains beneficial across all stages of life, with adolescents and the elderly requiring increased dairy intake for optimal health. Recommendations from the Australian Dietary Guidelines underscore the importance of incorporating dairy into daily dietary habits, particularly during adolescence for bone development and in older adults for bone maintenance and preservation.

To boost dairy consumption, individuals can incorporate dairy into their daily routines through various means, such as enjoying milk in coffee, snacking on yogurt with fruit, adding cheese to salads or sandwiches, incorporating yogurt into dishes like jacket potatoes, or blending dairy products into smoothies with fruits.

In essence, prioritizing dairy intake can significantly contribute to overall health and well-being across the lifespan, offering a myriad of nutritional benefits beyond what meets the eye.


Hungry for more? Discover our latest publication on Why you shouldn’t completely cut sugar out of your diet.

Dr Courtney Stewart (RNutr, FHEA)

BNutrSc, BBiomedSc(Hons), PhD
Director, NPR Consulting

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