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Nutrient Density: Milk, Yogurt and Cheese Group

Posted Aug 19 2009 6:32pm
Strong bones and healthy muscle tissue are the foundations of a fit body. They help sustain a healthy lifestyle full of physical activity and aid in injury avoidance. Dairy, or the Milk, Yogurt and Cheese Group, is key in the formation and maintenance of all the major components of the body structures.

The USDA recommends that people eat two to three servings from this food group per day to get a balanced diet containing the following necessary components. Lactose intolerance and some dietary restrictions can limit some people’s intake from this category so it is important to know what the diet may be missing without this component and compensate with other food sources.

Riboflavin:Also known as Vitamin B2, this water soluble vitamin, is found in whole milk. It is also found in eggs, green leafy vegetables, legumes, almonds, poultry, organ meats and whole grains. It is an important element of the diet for healthy eyes, hair, skin and soft body tissue. It aids in the formation of antibodies and red blood cells, as well as cell respiration and the metabolism of carbohydrates, fat and protein. A deficiency of riboflavin, sometimes caused by over-consumption of coffee, sugar, alcohol or tobacco, can lead to cataracts, mouth and tongue cracks and sores, dizziness, eye irritation, light sensitivity and eye fatigue, as well as poor digestion and delayed growth.

Vitamin D:Key for bone production, a primary source of this vitamin is not just food; it is also produced by the body’s exposure to sunlight. Aside from the sun, it is also found in most dairy products and many fish oils. A healthy diet with a good amount of Vitamin D will lead to strong, bones, heart, nerves, skin, teeth and thyroid gland. It aids in calcium and phosphorus metabolism for good bone formation, heart action, nervous system maintenance, normal blood clotting, and skin respiration. A Vitamin D deficiency will lead to mouth and throat irritation, diarrhea, insomnia, myopia, nervousness, poor metabolism and the softening of the bones and teeth.

Vitamin K:This vitamin is so important for blood clotting, it is where it got its name. The "K" is from the German word "koagulation," referring to the process of blood clot formation. Found in milk, yogurt and some vegetables and fruits, such as bananas, Vitamin K also assists in glycogen and bone formation.

Calcium:This may be the most well-known nutrient one can get from a healthy diet of dairy. It can also be found in liver and broccoli, but milk, yogurt and cheese are its most efficient sources. The benefits in dairy can be found in one’s blood, bones, heart, skin, soft tissue, and teeth as its aids in bone and tooth formation, blood clotting, heart rhythm, nerve tranquilization, nerve transmission, as well as muscle growth and contraction. A calcium deficiency may lead to heart palpitations, insomnia, muscle cramps, nervousness, arm & leg numbness, tooth decay, osteoporosis, rickets, and brittle finger nails.

The body can receive many benefits from the nutrients found in dairy products. However, certain dietary restrictions, such as lactose intolerance, or lifestyles, such as Veganism, may eliminate dairy products from a nutritional plan. If that is the case, it is important to make up the vitamins and minerals above from other sources such as fish and green leafy vegetables, like broccoli, but that may not be enough. In most cases, dietary supplements or enriched food sources, like enriched soy products, are necessary.

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