Aging Vibrantly with Dairy

Milk, cheese, and yogurt aren’t just essential for growing kids. Dairy foods nourish life and help people thrive at every age – yes, that includes all of us in our “adult years.” Dairy foods have decades of research to support their essential role in the diet, specifically the role dairy plays in disease risk reduction. This is why three daily servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy foods – like milk, cheese, and yogurt – are a key component of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA). 


Dairy’s Role in Disease Risk Reduction

Healthy eating patterns that include low-fat and fat-free dairy foods are associated with beneficial outcomes for all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, overweight and obesity, type 2 diabetes, bone health, and certain types of cancer. In addition, dairy foods provide nutrients many Americans are falling short on – including calcium, potassium, and vitamin D. Calcium and vitamin D are of particular importance for not only promoting optimal bone health in the early years but also preventing the onset of osteoporosis as we age.


Pour One More
Given that about 30% of men and 60% of women older than 19 don’t consume enough calcium and about 90% don’t consume enough vitamin D, there is room for each of us to enjoy more dairy in the diet. Just one additional serving of milk, cheese, or yogurt daily, helps provide essential nutrients and close nutritional gaps. After all, milk provides 13 essential nutrients in a single glass. 


Here are a few of my favorite ways to sneak in an additional serving of dairy:

  • Pour a glass of milk to enjoy with a meal – milk with meals isn’t just for kids!
  • Sprinkle some cheese on your dinner salad, on top of your soup, or over your favorite pasta
  • Grab a bowl of yogurt with berries – a wonderful breakfast, dessert, or bedtime snack!
  • Throw your favorite fruits and vegetables in a blender with some milk, yogurt, or kefir for a refreshing morning or afternoon smoothie
  • Pour some milk in your morning coffee or make a café latte to start the day


Choose a Healthy Eating Pattern for Healthy Aging

While the early years of life are key for building a healthy foundation, for adults it becomes more important than ever to consider a healthy eating pattern that reduces the risk of chronic diseases now and in the future. Many individuals enter the adult years with unhealthy eating habits. Changing this trajectory is important for better health and wellbeing. Aim for an eating pattern that reflects MyPlate recommendations. Need more inspiration? Find delicious and nutritious recipes at and read more about healthy eating patterns and the hottest diet trends here.

By Jenna Allen, M.S., RDN

Jenna is a registered dietitian with a passion for communicating science in an approachable way. She has been part of the Dairy MAX team since 2008. When she isn't working, Jenna is trying out new recipes with her three kids and working on her food photography. Learn more about Jenna.

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