Skip to main content

Dairy: A Food Group of Concern

By: on


Recently, trends have emerged that encourage the population to completely eliminate dairy from the daily diet. Diets such as Paleo, Vegan, and the Whole 30 remove dairy from the diet because they claim that this elimination will aid in weight loss and improve digestion. However, dairy is essential to the health of Americans! The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) cover 3 “recommended eating patterns” all which include dairy. Since the certified health advocates are promoting dairy, Americans should not be eliminating dairy from the diet! There is scientific research which proves that dairy is necessary for health. the only people who truly need to avoid dairy are those with a dairy allergy.  People with a milk or dairy allergy experience symptoms because their immune system reacts as though milk and other dairy products are a dangerous invader. This reaction can cause hives, an upset stomach, vomiting, bloody stools and even anaphylactic shock — a life-threatening allergic response.

In the DGA, four “nutrients of concern” were pointed out to us. These nutrients are fiber, vitamin D, calcium, and potassium. The dairy group contains 3 of the 4 nutrients of concern: vitamin D, calcium, and potassium.

The foods that provide the best sources of dairy are milk, cheese, and yogurt. The Dietary Guidelines advise low fat and fat-free dairy products. Dairy is a nutrient dense food group. It provides not only the 3 nutrients of concern listed above, but it is also packed with phosphorus, vitamin A, riboflavin, vitamin B12, niacin, and protein. Because dairy is so nutrient dense, it is very difficult to replace it with other foods if someone has chosen eliminate to dairy from their diet.


  • 2 cups of milk for those 2-3 years old.
  • 2 ½ cups for 4-8 years, and
  • 3 cups for 8 years and older.

* “1 cup” is equivalent to 1 cup milk, 1 cup yogurt, or 2 slices of cheese (1).  


dairy-concern-supp-image-400x500Dairy is important for the maintenance of strong bones, weight control, and it reduces the chance of gum disease. Eating dairy products throughout the day helps prevent a calcium deficiency. This means that you cannot drink 3 glasses of milk at one sitting to receive adequate amounts of calcium for the day. Dairy products need to be eaten periodically throughout the day for the nutrients to be properly absorbed. Recurring calcium deficiency can lead to bone loss and osteoporosis. Dairy products are especially vital for the growth of children, since dairy contains many of the essential nutrients. For adults, dairy reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and lower blood pressure (2).


  • Dairy is affordable! The average price of a gallon of milk is $3.46. That’s about 22 cents per cup!
  • Dairy is accessible! Dairy products can be found at any nearby grocery store and is ready to eat or drink at any time.
  • Dairy is various! Don’t like the taste milk? Cheese and yogurt are also great sources of dairy. Or fix a smoothie with milk to hide the flavor of milk. 


  • Have your kids drink a milk beverage at meals. Even flavored milk such as chocolate milk help kids reach their dairy intake.
  • Add fat free milk to oatmeal instead of water
  • Go past the glass. When most people think about dairy, they think of it as milk. But someone can consume the correct amounts of dairy without even touching milk!
  • Make a yogurt dip for fruits and vegetables
  • Top a bake potato with low fat yogurt.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans state that more than 80 % Americans do not reach the daily goal for dairy. Dairy is the solution to closing the gap of the 3 of 4 of the nutrients of concern.

Nutrients of Concern Guide


  1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition. December 2015. Available at
  1. “3 Things You Need to Know About Dairy in the 2015 Dietary Guidelines.” Dairy MAX - Your Local Dairy Council, February 5, 2016.

Get the best of The Watson delivered to your inbox