Milk does a body good. That's the message of the National Milk Producers Federation, delivered this week to a scientific advisory panel working on the 2015 edition of Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
NMPF said that most Americans don't get their three servings a day of dairy products, even though they are the number one source of nine dietary nutrients.
"Dairy foods are uniquely nutrient-rich and virtually irreplaceable in the diet if we want to meet nutrient recommendations," NMPF Vice President for Nutrition Beth Briczinski told the panel.
New guidelines are issued jointly by the departments of agriculture and health and human services every five years.
Not only did Briczinski underscore milk's beneficial properties, she also told the group that the three-a-day recommendation should be retained and dairy consumption should be encouraged.
"We strongly urge the committee to maintain the current recommendation of three daily servings of dairy, and to focus on the serious public health problem of under-consumption of milk and dairy products," she said.
According to Briczinski, milk, cheese, and yogurt contribute more than half the calcium and vitamin D in the American diet, and are the primary source of seven other essential nutrients in children's diets: phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, vitamins A, B12, D, and riboflavin.
NMPF said the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee found that when foods from the milk group were removed from model food patterns, intakes of calcium, vitamin D, and three other important nutrients fell below the goals.
"Even if calcium levels can be maintained with alternative foods, the levels of other nutrients such as protein, potassium, and vitamin D are adversely affected – there is simply no substitute for dairy," she said.
"Americans have major shortfalls in recommended milk consumption starting at four years of age. None of us should find that acceptable."
NMPF argued that dairy significantly reduces the risk of several chronic diseases, according to research published since 2010.
"The good news is that if people who under-consume dairy would add even one serving a day, that would bring average daily intakes of Americans much closer to meeting Dietary Guideline recommendations," Briczinki said. "We hope this committee will encourage people who are under-consuming dairy to add that extra serving."
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