An RD in the Dairy World

Karen Kafer is a registered dietitian (RD) and Vice President of Health Partnerships-Nutrition Affairs for the National Dairy Council (NDC). Karen is a guest blogger.

As a dietitian, I have spent over 30 years working in food and nutrition communications. I have long had a passion for public and private partnerships and collaborations that help advance public health, and I greatly enjoy working on behalf of America’s dairy farmers with leading health and nutrition organizations. I am excited about the opportunity to guest post and extend my knowledge on some of the various health benefits of dairy.

Dairy foods – milk, cheese and yogurt – deliver a powerful package when it comes to nutrition. Most everyone is familiar with the fact that dairy is an excellent source of calcium, but milk and milk products also deliver eight other essential nutrients – potassium, phosphorous, protein, vitamins A, D, B12, riboflavin and niacin (niacin equivalents)-to help keep the whole body healthy, not just bones. And of course there are a wide variety of reduced fat, low-fat and fat free options.

Milk and milk products provide nearly 75 percent of the calcium naturally available in the food supply. In fact, milk is the #1 contributor of potassium in the diet, as well as calcium, vitamin D, and phosphorus, a key reason the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends three daily servings. It is also important to note that milk– whether 2%, low fat or skim, lactose free or regular — delivers the same nutrient package as whole milk. The only difference is the fat content.

Many studies (some funded by the National Dairy Council) show that dairy foods, when consumed as part of a healthy diet, improve overall diet quality and may help to (1) reduce the risk of osteoporosis, (2) hypertension, (3) obesity, (4) colon cancer and (5) metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions that can lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes. A review from the Journal of the American College of Nutrition (JACN) contains updated research on these topics and the health benefits of dairy. To see the abstracts, click here.

Lastly, in this economic climate, it is more important than ever to get the greatest nutrition bang for your buck! At the National Dairy Council, we try to emphasize reliable, affordable sources of key nutrients.

If you’re interested in learning more about the National Dairy Council, please visit or sign up to receive our bi-monthly newsletter. Thanks again to the ladies of Nutrition Know How for allowing me to guest post! It’s been a pleasure!

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