All about milk
A standard 8-oz. serving of milk provides thirteen essential nutrients, making it one of the most nutrient-dense foods. This means it provides a high level of essential nutrients compared to its calories. In fact, each serving of milk provides 10% or more of the recommended daily intake for calcium, Vitamin D (if fortified), protein, pantothenic acid, Vitamin A, Vitamin B12, riboflavin, niacin, phosphorus, selenium, iodine, zinc and potassium.
Milk is well known as an excellent source of calcium. Regardless of its fat content, milk provides 8 grams of protein and about 300 milligrams of calcium per serving (8 fluid ounces). A diet that includes three servings of milk (or equivalent dairy foods) each day provides enough calcium and other nutrients that may help reduce the risk of osteoporosis, high blood pressure and colon cancer.
It is difficult to obtain enough calcium without consuming milk (or other dairy foods). To help meet calcium requirements, the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends 3 cups of low fat or fat free milk and dairy foods daily for those 9 years or older, 2 1/2 servings for those 4-8 years old and 2 servings for those 2-3 years old.
One serving of dairy is equal to an 8-ounce glass of milk, a 6 or 8 ounce container of yogurt, or 1 1/2 ounces of natural cheese.
|Age Group||Age||Recommended Dairy Foods Serving|
|Toddlers||12-23 months||1 2/3-2 cups|
|Children||2-3 years||2 cups|
|Children||4-8 years||2 1/2 cups|
|Children||9-13 years||3 cups|
|Teenagers||14-18 years||3 cups|
|Adults||>18 years||3 cups|
A Nutrient-by-Nutrient Look at Milk
An 8-oz serving of milk provides 25% of the Daily Value of calcium. Calcium helps build and maintain strong bones and teeth. This mineral also plays an important role in nerve function, muscle contraction and blood clotting.
Niacin is important for the normal function of many enzymes in the body and is involved in the metabolism of sugars and fatty acids. A glass of milk provides 15% of the Daily Value for niacin.
Phosphorus helps strengthen bones and generates energy in the body’s cells. Milk is an excellent source of phosphorus, providing 20% of the Daily Value.
When fortified, a glass of milk provides about 15% of the Daily Value for Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps promote the absorption of calcium and enhances bone mineralization. Milk is one of the few dietary sources of this important nutrient.
A glass of milk provides 15% of the Daily Value of Vitamin A. This nutrient helps maintain normal vision and skin. It also helps regulate cell growth and maintains the integrity of the immune system.
Milk is an excellent source of riboflavin, providing 24% of the Daily Value. Riboflavin, also known as Vitamin B2, helps convert food into energy—a process crucial for exercising muscles.
The protein in milk is high quality, which means it contains all of the essential amino acids in the proportions that the body requires for good health. Protein builds and repairs muscle tissue and serves as a source of energy during high-powered endurance exercise. An 8-oz glass of milk provides about 16% of the Daily Value for protein.
Vitamin B12 helps build red blood cells that carry oxygen from the lungs to working muscles. Just one 8-oz glass of milk provides about 50% of the Daily Value for this vitamin.
An 8-ounce glass of milk is an excellent source of Pantothenic Acid, also known as Vitamin B5. Pantothenic Acid helps the body to break down carbohydrates and to create energy from them.
A healthy immune system is important. Zinc helps maintain immune health, support normal growth and development, and healthy skin. One serving of milk provides 10% of the Daily Value.
Selenium also helps maintain a healthy immune system, regulate metabolism, and protect healthy cells from damage. One 8 ounce glass of milk provides 10% of the Daily Value.
An 8-ounce serving of milk is an excellent source of Iodine at 60% of the Daily Value. Necessary for proper bone and brain development during pregnancy and infancy, Iodine is linked to brain development in childhood.
Potassium helps maintain a healthy blood pressure and supports heart health. This important mineral helps regulate body fluid balance and maintain normal muscle function. One serving of milk provides 10% of the Dietary Reference Intake.