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Calcium, one of milk’s most important nutrients, is essential to good health. Even though it is the most abundant mineral in your body, calcium is one of the most frequently lacking nutrients in the American diet. Did you know that if you don’t get enough calcium, your body begins to take it from your bones? If your body continually calls upon the bones for calcium, they become brittle and weak. This is what leads to the crippling disease called osteoporosis. That’s why calcium plays such an important role in building and maintaining strong bones. But that’s not all – it helps your heart beat, helps muscles relax, helps blood clot and helps your nerves send messages throughout your body.

Calcium intake by most Americans today is far below recommended levels. U.S. Dietary Guidelines suggest 2-3 servings of milk and other dairy products each day, and even more for teenagers and adults over age 51. Calcium is important in building strong bones early in life, then keeping bones dense throughout the adult years. Children build at least half their lifetime bone mass during their teenage years, so intake of milk and dairy products is crucial for adolescents.

The percentage of overweight Americans, especially kids and teenagers, has increased greatly in the last 30 years. This is due largely to a lack of exercise, but also is caused by poor diet, including a lack of milk and dairy products. Drinking milk instead of soft drinks and sport drinks – which provide more than 30% of the refined sugar in an average American diet – is an important first step in creating a healthy lifestyle.

Milk and dairy foods long have been considered the best source of calcium in the diet. In fact, about 73% of the calcium available in the food supply is provided by milk and dairy products. Without dairy foods, it is nearly impossible to meet calcium requirements from other non-dairy food sources. Other high-calcium foods provide less calcium, and the calcium is not as well-absorbed in the body.

Suggested daily calcium intake is:
• 1,000 mg for adults
• 1,300 mg for adolescents
• 500 – 800 mg for young children
• 1,200 mg for adults over age 51
(Fat-free or reduced-fat products are recommended)

One cup of delicious milk provides:
30% Calcium for strong bones and teeth
24% Riboflavin for healthy skin
16% Protein to build strong muscles
10% Vitamin A for night vision

A cow’s diet consists of 80 pounds of hay, corn barley, and grass. A cow eats up to eight times per day and drinks 30-40 pounds of water per day. A cow produces an average of eight gallons of milk per day or around 17,200 pounds per year. After the cows are milked, the milk is cooled to 38 degrees and stored in refrigerated tanks.



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