A balanced diet that’s rich in nutrients is a key component of a healthy lifestyle. Nutritious diets include fruits and vegetables, but a truly well-rounded diet also includes dairy.
“Dairy products provide much needed calcium and minerals that are vital for the growing child. We also need some dairy products as we age to provide calcium and probiotics to promote good bacteria or flora in the gut,” Shellie Marthini, Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner at Moxee Medical Clinic said.
Dairy products are good sources of calcium and vitamin D, giving them a well-earned reputation as nutrient-rich products worthy of inclusion in healthy diets. Dairy products are more than just milk. In fact, the United States Department of Agriculture notes that low- or reduced-fat cheeses and yogurts can provide a host of vitamins and nutrients for those who want to include dairy in their diets without pouring themselves a glass of milk.
“We want to consume in moderation, of course, and in limited amounts if the person has risks of heart disease.”
The effects of dairy on the body are numerous, and the following are just some of the ways that the various nutrients and vitamins in dairy can have a positive impact on you and your body.
Various dairy products, including low-fat milk, yogurt and cottage cheese, are rich in calcium. The USDA notes that the body uses calcium to build bones and teeth and maintain bone mass. That can help people lower their risk for osteoporosis, a potentially debilitating condition characterized by brittle, fragile bones that are vulnerable to injury due to tissue loss.
“Calcium is a building block of bone development along with teeth and nail growth. Those that are calcium deficient can develop fractures, osteoporosis, and Ricketts in children,” Marthini noted.
Dairy products that are fortified with vitamin D can also help to build and maintain healthy bones. Milk, soy milk and certain yogurts and cereals are among the products that may be fortified with vitamin D.
It’s important to note that people can overdo it in regard to vitamin D. In fact, a 2010 study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association found that intake of very high doses of vitamin D among older women was linked to more falls and fractures.
“Vitamin D helps with mood and calcium absorption, but too much of a good thing can be dangerous. Too much vitamin D can result in fatigue, nausea, vomiting, memory problems, and slurred speech,” Marthini said.
That’s something to consider for people considering vitamin D supplements, which have become widely popular in recent years. Such supplements should be discussed with a physician, who may just advise those concerned about their vitamin D intake to consume more low-fat dairy products.
According to the USDA, certain dairy products can be great sources of potassium. The organization notes that milk and yogurt have more potassium and less sodium than cheeses. Diets that include sufficient potassium have been linked to healthy blood pressure.
Fruits and vegetables may the first foods people think of when crafting healthy eating habits. But dairy products also make great, nutrient-rich additions to any diet.
Of course, there are a select amount of people who are lactose intolerant. These individuals have variety in how they can maintain a well-balanced diet without lactose from dairy products.
According to Marthini, “There are a variety of lactose free products that people can still maintain their vitamin D and calcium intake at healthy levels. Some of the dietary alternatives are lactose-free milk, tofu, fortified cereals, oranges or orange juice, beans, soy, almond, or rice milk. Fish, especially salmon and sardines, are packed full of calcium, as are dark green veggies.”
“If you think that you are tired and run down, before grabbing that vitamin supplement talk with your medical provider first.”