There aren’t many other single foods that come close to the nutrients you get from one cup of milk.
– Toby Amidor, MS, RD
Absolutely! Milk is a nutrient-packed food providing nine essential nutrients in every glass, including calcium, potassium, and vitamin D. These are three of four nutrients that the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee report identified as under-consumed nutrients. There aren’t many other single foods that come close to the nutrients you get from one cup of milk. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommended three daily servings of milk or dairy products for ages 9 years and older. These guidelines also noted moderate evidence showing that drinking milk and eating dairy foods are associated with bone health, specifically in children and adolescents.”
Ambassador of the National Dairy Council and author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day. Follow Toby on Twitter @tobyamidor and visit Toby Amidor Nutrition.
Every nutrient in milk can be found in whole plant foods.
– Andy Bellatti, MS, RD
“Milk is simply not necessary in the diet. Every nutrient in milk can be found in whole plant foods, and some nutrients needed for healthy bones, like vitamin K and manganese, are not in milk, but are in whole plant foods. Current recommendations calling for three servings of dairy a day are more about politics and industry lobbying than they are about science. Considering that the average American's fiber intake is paltry, I would suggest making more room for foods that offer both calcium and fiber, like almonds, chickpeas, chard, kale, broccoli, collard greens, and tempeh. Most plant-based milk alternatives are fortified with calcium and, just like dairy milk, fortified with vitamin D.”
Milk isn’t well tolerated by many, maybe even most, people.
– Cassie Bjork, RD, LD
“Dairy products can be part of a balanced eating regimen. However, milk specifically has a few caveats. Milk is highly insulinogenic, which means it spikes blood sugar levels. It also has inflammatory properties, so is a common offender of acne, sinus congestion, and digestive distress. Milk isn’t well tolerated by many, maybe even most, people. Lactose is present in much larger quantities in milk than in butter, cheese, and yogurt, and many people have a difficult time digesting it. We don’t have any nutritional requirement for cow’s milk and obtain the same nutrients in meat, seafood, veggies, fruits, and nuts. If you do drink milk, because of the hormones and antibiotics fed to the dairy cows, it’s best to buy organic, or grass-fed.”
Milk is a good source of calcium and protein. Thankfully, it’s not the only source.
– Alex Caspero, MA, RD
“While equal arguments can be made for milk being "good" or "bad," I like to instead focus on its necessity: Do you have to drink milk for health? Milk is a good source of both protein and calcium. Thankfully, it’s not the only source. You would have to drink three servings to get the recommended daily calcium amounts. Depending on the fat content of your milk, that's an extra 270 to 450 calories a day. Non-milk sources contain similar calcium amounts, with a lot fewer calories. Other high-quality sources of calcium include beans, canned salmon, almonds, kale, and dried figs. However, if you like milk, I wouldn't dissuade you.”
Milk…contains nutrients that are necessary for bone health.
– Susan Duncan, PhD, RD
“Milk is rich in many nutrients essential for life and well-being. Milk that’s 2 percent fat or less is an excellent source of calcium, phosphorus, riboflavin, vitamin D, and vitamin B12, delivering 20 percent or more of each nutrient per 8-ounce serving. Through our mid-20s, calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D are necessary to build strong and dense bone structure and essential for many other biological functions. We need these nutrients daily through adulthood. If these nutrients are not available from dietary sources, calcium and phosphorus are withdrawn from our bones. Can too much calcium be detrimental to bone health? In excess, calcium, phosphorus, or vitamin D may disrupt biochemical processes. But milk contains nutrients that are necessary for bone health, maintaining heart health, and reducing the risk of cancer.”
Vice President of the American Dairy Science Association (ADSA) and professor of food science and technology at Virginia Tech. Visit ADSA’s website.
Milk provides a really nice package of a lot of nutrients — including a few that most people don’t get enough of.
– Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD
“I fall right in the middle when it comes to milk. Milk provides a really nice package of a lot of nutrients — including a few that most people don’t get enough of, like vitamin D. Calcium is important for kids and teens who are still building bone and for adults who need to maintain the bone they have. And it offers filling protein and much-needed potassium. But if you don’t like it, there's an issue of allergy or intolerance, or you follow a vegan or paleo lifestyle, a well-planned diet can provide these nutrients too. You can get potassium through fruits and vegetables and calcium and vitamin D through fortified non-dairy milks (just be sure to avoid sweetened versions). Some plant foods also contain calcium, but in lower amounts compared to milk.”