At a time when childhood obesity is on the rise and healthy choices seem hard to come by, milk or dairy can be one of the simplest additions to your diet that can cause the biggest change in your child’s overall health. Most of us can probably remember a time when our parents said “Drink your milk! It’s good for you!” As parents, you might even be saying this same thing to your kids, but what makes milk so good for you? If you drink it, what are you or your kids really getting from it?
The biggest and most important benefit that your child can get from drinking milk or even just eating daily yogurt, is calcium. Calcium is essential in building strong bones and prevents bone loss in the future. Taking in enough calcium can actually protect your body from migraine headaches, and aids in losing unwanted fats. It also helps to prevent childhood obesity, which has become a growing problem.
Just like calcium, dairy is chocked full of Vitamin D, which is essential for actually absorbing calcium. Dairy is fortified with 100 to 120 IU of Vitamin D, meaning that the Vitamin D, while not naturally occurring in cow’s milk, is added to your milk to make it even healthier. Vitamin D reduces inflammation and increases immune function when your child is sick, so they will get better much faster- something that comes in handy during the school year when germs and sickness are spread like wildfire.
Another important benefit of dairy, is its ability to help you and your children maintain a healthy weight. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past thirty years. In 2012, more than one third of all children and adolescents were overweight or obese. With the long term health risks associated with obesity, it is important to try to keep your child healthy and active. According to Florida Dairy Farmers and the National Dairy Council, consuming three daily servings of milk, cheese, or yogurt is an easy way to help your child have a well-balanced and nutrient rich diet that can help them maintain a healthy weight. With the nutrients and hydration that you child gets from dairy, they will be able to be more active and healthy.
The benefits of dairy, like milk, cheese, and yogurt, give your children a leg up against bone loss later in life and childhood obesity. They will be able to be back on their feet more quickly when they get sick, and they will have the energy and hydration they need. So, why not add a little dairy into your life?
Florida Dairy Farmers (FDF) is Florida’s milk promotion organization, representing more than 130 Florida dairy farmers who work every day to provide a steady supply of fresh milk. The farmer-funded organization works to enhance the industry’s image with a goal of increasing milk and dairy product sales statewide via consumer marketing and education. The Dairy Council of Florida is a component of FDF and serves Florida educators and health professionals.
Florida Fuel Up to Play 60 encourages youth to consume nutrient-rich foods, like low-fat and fat-free dairy, and achieve at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. Take a picture of yourself with your favorite dairy product using hashtag #FuelUpSummer to participate in their 7 day summer photo challenge.