One of the simplest suggestions of the 2000 Dietary Guidelines released this week, to get two to three servings of dairy foods a day, carries new meaning in light of significant research released since the last review of the Guidelines in 1995.

“One of the goals of the 2000 Dietary Guidelines and of this week’s Nutrition Summit in Washington is to provide consumers with simple steps to act on right now for good health,” said Greg Miller, Ph.D., F.A.C.N., vice-president of nutrition research, National Dairy Council. “Now, more than ever, we know that getting those two to three servings of milk, cheese, yogurt and other dairy products each day is a very simple, very powerful action step.”

Since the last review of the Dietary Guidelines in 1995, a number of ground-breaking studies have linked consumption of milk and milk products, and the calcium they contain, to reductions in obesity, colon cancer, hypertension and prevention of a myriad of other health problems. At the same time, recent research reinforces the role dairy products play in getting enough calcium for proper bone growth and health, and prevention of bone fractures and osteoporosis.

“We’re really in a new era of understanding what a powerful food milk is in preventing disease and in promoting good health,” Miller said. “Milk is one of the richest sources of calcium and also provides eight other essential nutrients, including vitamin D that helps enhance calcium absorption.”

Dairy companies have also improved packaging and product variety of milk and other dairy products in just the past five years.

“There are more flavors, package sizes… better single-serve milks and cottage cheese, lactose-free products and even yogurts for toddlers. There are so many more choices, and that’s great for getting calcium into the daily routine,” Miller said.

Recent ground-breaking research includes the 1997 DASH study (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) and just-released 2000 DASH II study, which have established the role of lowfat dairy products in reducing hypertension, a leading cause of death in this country. Other studies have highlighted the specific role of calcium in preventing disease.

“An increasing body of science points to the critical role that calcium plays in our bodies,” Miller said. “Dairy products aren’t the only calcium source, but milk provides about 75% of the available calcium in our diets, so it’s hard to meet the daily calcium recommendations without dairy foods. For example, you have to eat several cups of spinach or a can of sardines to get the absorbable calcium you find in one glass of milk.”

Dairy’s role in preventing osteoporosis, in strengthening bones and in providing protein, calcium and seven other essential nutrients has long been lauded by the nutrition and science community, including the American Dietetic Association, the National Institutes of Health, the American Academy of Pediatrics, National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development, and many other national and international health organizations.

For more information, visit The National Dairy Council Web site at www.nationaldairycouncil.org.

The National Dairy Council was founded in 1915 and conducts nutrition education and nutrition research programs through national, state and regional Dairy Council organizations on behalf of America’s dairy farmers.

For more information about nutrition education materials, call 1-800-426-8271 for the Dairy Council office nearest you.

MILK RESEARCH MILESTONES RESEARCH REVIEW

1997

April 1997 – A study in The New England Journal of Medicine
recommends the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, (DASH), an
eating plan rich in lowfat dairy, fruits and vegetables.

May 1997 – A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
finds that most participants who mistakenly thought they were lactose
intolerant avoided dairy products unnecessarily when, in fact, they
were able to tolerate two glasses of milk without symptoms.

August 1997 – The National Academy of Sciences, Food and Nutrition
Board announces new guidelines that increase the recommended amount of
calcium intake to at least 1,000 mg a day for adults and 1,300 mg for
children ages 9 to 18.

1998

March 1998 – The Journal of The American Dietetic Association
reports that calcium in milk may help neutralize the effect of
oxalate, a compound in fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains that
may trigger the formation of kidney stones in some people.

April 1998 – A study in the Journal of Bone Mineral Research finds
that adequate calcium intake during childhood and adolescence is a
powerful factor in reaching maximum bone density and avoiding
fractures.

April 1998 – Hearing loss may be connected with low calcium intake
in the diet, according to research from the University of Georgia and
the Centers for Disease Control.

August 1998 – A study in the American Journal of Obstetrics and
Gynecology finds that adequate daily calcium intake may also help
women combat PMS symptoms such as cramping, bloating, food cravings
and irritability.

September 1998 – A study published in The Journal of Child
Nutrition and Management finds that only children (ages 5 to 17), who
drink milk with their noon meal, meet or exceed recommended calcium
intake for that meal or for the whole day, while kids who drink other
beverages at lunch such as soft drinks, juice, tea or fruit drinks,
fail to meet daily calcium recommendations.

September 1998 – A study in The Journal of the American Medical
Association indicates that lowfat dairy products such as milk, cheese
and yogurt may help reduce the risk of developing colon cancer.

September 1998 – A study in the American Journal of Clinical
Nutrition finds that increasing calcium intake lowered blood pressure
in African-American teens ages 15 to 18, whose diets were originally
low in calcium.

November 1998 – Research in the American Journal of Clinical
Nutrition finds people who believed they were lactose intolerant can
consume enough dairy products to reach recommended calcium intakes.

1999

January 1999 – Research in the New England Journal of Medicine
indicates that increasing calcium intake reduces the recurrence of
colon polyps in those at high risk for colon cancer–the third leading
cause of cancer death and new cancer cases in both men and women in
the United States.

April 1999 – New research at the Experimental Biology Annual
Meeting finds that a diet high in calcium and lowfat dairy products
may have contributed to loss in body fat among a study of women ages
18-31.

May 1999 – A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
finds that women between the ages of 44 and 50 who succeeded in
shedding pounds also suffered a loss of bone mineral density –
particularly at the hip and spine – unless they maintained a diet rich
in calcium and vitamin D.

July 1999 – In a study published in Environmental Health
Perspectives, researchers from UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School,
Newark, N.J. find that a diet rich in calcium could help reduce the
risk of lead poisoning.

July 1999 – A research review in the Journal of Nutrition suggests
that sphingolipids, natural compounds found in milk, may represent a
“functional” component of food and help lower cholesterol and prevent
colon cancer.

August 1999 – The Journal of The American Dietetic Association
releases a 100-page collection of reports about the DASH eating plan,
which highlights the plan’s effectiveness in maintaining normal blood
pressure.

November 1999 – Michael Zemel, Ph.D., presents a study at the
North American Association for the Study of Obesity (NAASO) Annual
Meeting, that finds lowfat dairy foods such as milk, yogurt and cheese
may help control body fat.