Americans Are Unclear About Essential Nutrients in Their Diets

March 2, 2010

KANSAS CITY, Mo., March 2 /PRNewswire/ — When it comes to dietary nutrients, most consumers don’t know the whole story. A recent study by the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy revealed that the fact that milk delivers much more than calcium to the diet is new “news” to consumers.

“Many consumers know about milk’s calcium benefits, but most are unaware that dairy foods deliver eight other dietary nutrients considered ‘essential’ by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA),” says Stephanie Cundith, a registered dietitian with the Midwest Dairy Council. “National Nutrition Month is the perfect time for Americans to learn more about essential nutrients in foods and their irreplaceable health benefits. It is important to get essential nutrients from the foods we eat because the human body can’t manufacture them in sufficient quantities to meet daily needs.”

Consumers know they need to eat healthy, but often focus strictly on counting calories. “Monitoring calorie intake is not enough; it also is important to ensure the foods you consume are nutrient-rich,” says Cundith. Consuming three dairy servings every day provides exceptional nutritional value, including significant amounts of vitamin D, protein, potassium and vitamin B12. From repairing muscle tissue to maintaining healthy red blood cells, the nutrients found in dairy foods work together to help support optimal health.

Dairy’s Unique Nutrient Package

    --------      ------------
                   Dairy is probably best known for its calcium, which helps
    Calcium        build healthy bones and teeth.
    -------        ---------------------------------------------------------
                   Potassium regulates the body's fluid balance, helps
                   maintain normal blood pressure and is one of the
                   essential nutrients the USDA says Americans lack the
    Potassium      most.
    ---------     ----------------------------------------------------
                   Feeling sluggish? Phosphorus helps generate energy in the
    Phosphorus     body's cells.
    ----------    ----------------------------------------------------------
                   Dairy provides a good source of high-quality protein. The
                   protein in milk, cheese and yogurt builds and repairs
    Protein        muscle tissue and can help you feel full.
    -------       ----------------------------------------------------------
                   Vitamin A is important for maintaining healthy skin and
    Vitamin A      vision.
    ---------     --------------------------------------------------------
                   Also known as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D is one of
                   the nutrients Americans lack the most. It helps promote
                   the absorption of calcium and enhances bone strength. One
                   8-ounce glass provides 25 percent of your daily
    Vitamin D      requirement.
    ---------     ----------------------------------------------------------
                   Vitamin B12 helps maintain healthy red blood cells and
                   nerve tissue. Milk and yogurt are both excellent sources
    Vitamin B12    of this essential nutrient.
    -----------   ---------------------------------------------------------
                   Also known as vitamin B2, riboflavin helps convert food
    Riboflavin     into energy.
    ----------    --------------------------------------------------------
                   Niacin (or niacin equivalent) is important for the normal
                   function of many enzymes in the body and is involved in
    Niacin         the processing of sugars and fatty acids.
    ------        ----------------------------------------------------------

Americans Aren’t Getting Adequate Nutrients

The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, published by the USDA and Department of Health and Human Services, report many adults, adolescents and children fall short on several of the essential nutrients needed for healthy body functioning. The Guidelines recommend three servings of fat-free or low-fat dairy products each day. However, Americans only eat about half of this amount. “Meeting the recommended three servings per day of milk, cheese and yogurt is easy,” says Cundith, “My family starts the day with a bowl of whole grain cereal and milk, and we love fruit and yogurt as a snack.” A Cundith family favorite for dinner is pulled pork soft tacos sprinkled with Colby Jack cheese.

This recipe and the whole story of dairy’s unique nutrient package can be found at dairymakessense.com.


Midwest Dairy Council is the nutrition education division of Midwest Dairy Association. The Council’s mission is to promote a healthy diet through nutrition education and the use of dairy products to consumers, health professionals and teachers. Midwest Dairy Council is funded by check-off dollars from dairy farmers in a nine-state region that includes: Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma. For more information, visit www.midwestdairy.com or www.dairymakessense.com.

SOURCE Midwest Dairy Council

Source: newswire

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