As a registered dietitian, I'd like the opportunity to correct misinformation presented in the letter "Lay off the milk, kids," published Jan. 8 in The Aspen Times. Clearly, the content of that piece is not based on current nutrition science.
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPlate confirm the importance of dairy foods as part of a healthy diet by recommending that Americans 9 and older consume three daily servings of low-fat or fat-free milk and milk products.
These recommendations are supported by many other renowned organizations, including, but not limited to, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, National Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Milk, cheese and yogurt together provide a unique nutrient package of calcium plus eight key nutrients. Studies show that dairy foods, when consumed as part of a healthy diet, contribute to better bone health, improve overall diet quality and could help reduce the risk of osteoporosis, hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, obesity, colon cancer and metabolic syndrome (a cluster of conditions that can lead to heart disease and Type 2 diabetes). Promising research suggests that several components of dairy foods might have anti-cancer properties, including vitamin D, sphingolipids and a type of fatty acid known as conjugated linoleic acid.
While it is often said that you can get your calcium from nondairy sources, dairy foods, such as milk, cheese and yogurt, are some of the best sources of calcium. Other foods, such as leafy greens and legumes, might contain calcium, but they also contain other substances that can reduce the amount of calcium available for absorption.
I'd encourage your readers to lean on low-fat and fat-free dairy foods as a reliable and affordable option not only to meet calcium recommendations but also to reap the benefits of the other nutrients that dairy foods provide.
Western Dairy Association