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Why milk products?

Benefits of milk products

Milk products are an important part of a healthy diet. They provide up to 16 nutrients with benefits not limited to healthy bones and teeth. They contribute to normal growth and keep the body functioning properly. Here you’ll learn the importance of these essential nutrients and the benefits of getting your recommended daily servings of milk products.

Much more than you think

Milk products provide up to 16 nutrients - see their roles

Add milk, yogurt and cheese to your daily menu. They are naturally nutritious and help you maintain good overall health. That's why it's important to consume milk products every day and at every stage of life, from infancy throughout adulthood. Several studies have also shown that milk products may contribute to reduce the risk of certain diseases or conditions such as hypertension, obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis and colorectal cancer.

Healthy blood pressure

Hypertension is the main risk factor for mortality in Canada, with over five million Canadians affected by this disease. According to scientific studies, consuming the recommended servings of milk products, as part of a healthy diet also rich in vegetables and fruits, could have significant benefits for lowering blood pressure.

Researchers believe that the beneficial effect of milk products could be due to their calcium, magnesium and potassium content, among other factors.

Healthy weight

Around thirty studies suggest that a diet rich in calcium or in milk products, as part of a calorie-reduced diet, could make it easier to maintain a healthy weight or lose excess weight. In fact, it appears that calcium could make the body use fat as an energy source more efficiently and reduce fat storage in cells. Also, it seems that milk products could achieve this more effectively than calcium supplements, which suggests that other milk components, such as protein, could play an important role, perhaps by reducing appetite.

So, consuming the recommended servings of milk products every day could help you manage your weight in a healthy way.

Type 2 diabetes

Consuming milk and milk products may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. People with this type of diabetes—which represents 90% of all diabetes cases—generally develop the disease after the age of 40. In recent years, however, this “adult-onset” diabetes has been striking people at a younger and younger age and can even occur in children.

Research published to date indicates that milk, both whole and partly skimmed, may have a protective effect against type 2 diabetes. In addition to milk, some milk products such as cheese, yogurt, and buttermilk could also have beneficial effects against this disease that only continues to grow. According to the World Health Organization, the number of people with diabetes will double in the next 10 to 12 years. An adequate or higher intake (3 to 4 servings per day) of milk and milk products during adolescence and adulthood may significantly reduce the risk of developing diabetes. Finally, milk products may also have protective effects against overweight and metabolic syndrome, two conditions that promote the development of diabetes.

Bone health

Vital for healthy bones, the calcium in milk products also contributes to reduce the risk of osteoporosis. This disease is characterized by low bone mass and the deterioration of bone tissue. As the body's bones become fragile, they also become more likely to be fractured. Bad falls often cause broken hips and wrists, and even fractures of the spine. Osteoporosis can severely reduce one's quality of life, and people who are unfortunate enough to suffer from the disease can even lose their autonomy.

The best way to prevent osteoporosis is to build up and maintain good bone mass, starting in childhood. Numerous studies have shown that a diet high in calcium increases bone mass during growth, slows bone loss during adulthood, and thereby reduces the risk of fractures.

Milk products are a reliable source of calcium and also contain other nutrients such as protein, phosphorus and vitamin A, contributing to bone health. In addition, the vitamin D added to milk improves the absorption of calcium and phosphorus.

Bioavailability of calcium in milk products
Simply put, bioavailability is the amount of calcium in a food that is absorbed by the body. Some foods such as spinach can contain a high level of calcium, but it is sometimes less well absorbed. However, these delicious leafy greens are packed with many other vitamins and minerals that are important for a balanced diet and can still be counted on to help top up your calcium intake.

Milk contains a great deal of calcium that is well absorbed by the body, and therefore has excellent bioavailability. That's why milk and milk products are considered to be the best natural sources of calcium. Furthermore, according to some studies, the calcium present in milk products could be more beneficial for bone health – and likely even for the prevention of osteoporosis – than calcium supplements.

Colorectal cancer

Numerous scientific studies suggest that consuming milk could lower the risk of colorectal cancer. According to a report published by the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research on the role played by diet and lifestyle in cancer prevention, there is enough data to conclude that milk probably helps prevent colorectal cancer.

Further studies are still necessary to determine the precise mechanisms by which milk products and some of their components could reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. Researchers believe that the nutrients associated with this protective effect include calcium and vitamin D. Other elements may also be involved such as conjugated linoleic acid which is found in milk fat.

The role of 16 essential nutrients

  • Calcium

    aids in the formation and maintenance of strong bones and healthy teeth.

  • Folate

    aids in red blood cell formation.

  • Magnesium

    factor in bone and teeth health, conversion of food into energy and tissue formation.

  • Niacin

    aids in normal growth, and is a factor in the conversion of food into energy and tissue formation, including bones.

  • Pantothenic acid

    factor in the conversion of food into energy and tissue formation, including bones.

  • Phosphorus

    factor in the formation and maintenance of strong bones and healthy teeth.

  • Potassium

    aids in the correct functioning of nerves and muscles.

  • Protein

    helps build and repair body tissues, including muscles and bones, and builds antibodies which fight infection.

  • Riboflavin

    factor in the conversion of food into energy and tissue formation.

  • Selenium

    factor in the correct functioning of the immune system, due to its antioxidant effect.

  • Thiamine

    releases energy from carbohydrate and aids normal growth.

  • Vitamin A

    aids bone and tooth development, while aiding in the maintenance of night vision and healthy skin.

  • Vitamin B6

    factor in the conversion of food into energy and tissue formation, including bones.

  • Vitamin B12

    aids in red blood cell formation.

  • Vitamin D (added to milk)

    enhances calcium and phosphorus absorption, on which strong bones and teeth depend.

  • Zinc

    factor in tissue formation, including bones, and converting food into energy.

  • Learn more about serving sizes