Boning Up on Calcium

A December 2002 study by the American Dairy Council reaffirms that milk really does do bones and bodies good. Researchers evaluated dietary calcium intake, bone mineral content, bone size and bone mineral density in children to determine the implications of not drinking milk over the long term. Results indicate that the children who didn't drink milk had significantly lower calcium intake, were significantly shorter and had smaller bones and lower bone mineral density than the children who regularly consumed milk. Researchers suggest that since milk is a rich source of many important nutrients, avoiding it could also negatively affect general growth and development.

How Much Calcium Do Kids Need?

The USDA recommends two to three servings of dairy products, including milk, cheese and yogurt, daily, but research shows that most Americans are eating only half of that. In fact, according to the USDA, about 30 percent of kids ages 1 to 5, 60 to 70 percent of kids ages 6 to 11 and 70 to 90 percent of kids ages 12 to 19 don't meet daily calcium requirements. Many researchers blame the substitution of soft drinks for milk, along with the habit of skipping meals like breakfast, for the current "calcium crisis."

The 3-A-Day Campaign

To reverse this trend, The American Dairy Association/National Dairy Council is launching a new 3-A-Day of Dairy campaign starting March 3, 2003. Their message: Eating three servings of milk, cheese or yogurt is an easy and great-tasting way for families to meet their calcium needs and pack a powerful punch of eight essential nutrients needed for stronger bones and overall good health. Look for the new 3-A-Day logo on dairy products that are a rich source of calcium (providing 20 percent or more of the daily value). And take these 3-A-Day of Dairy serving sizes into consideration:

Milk: One serving is 8 ounces (1 cup), or three-fourths the size of a can of soup, and contains up to 300 milligrams of calcium
Cheese: One serving is 1 to 1.5 ounces, or the size of a matchbox, and contains up to 300 milligrams of calcium
Yogurt: One serving is 8 ounces (1 cup), and contains up to 400 milligrams of calcium

For More Information

Visit the new 3-A-Day Website, which features family-friendly recipes, the latest news on calcium and a chance to win $333. While you're there, register for a free "Mom Tool Kit" with more recipes, expert tips and coupons.

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