We all know that dairy is a nutritious part of our daily diet - giving us a great dose of much-needed Vitamin D, calcium, protein and more. But what you may not know is that dairy is more important than ever for soon-to-be moms, growing toddlers, children and teens.
The American Pregnancy Association recommends pregnant women consume 3-4 servings of dairy every day. Aside from providing necessary amounts of calcium and Vitamin D, those 3-4 servings keep keep mom’s body and her baby hydrated. The body’s protein needs increase by about 60% in pregnancy, so dairy foods like milk, yogurt and cheese (and ice cream!) offer a great, delicious source of it (especially when other protein-packed foods may not be too appealing to expectant mothers.)
Plus, taking in the Vitamin D found in dairy foods during pregnancy not only paves the way for the formation of baby’s bones, but also supports both mom and baby’s immune systems. And, it helps those tiny muscles move by assisting the brain in communicating with the rest of baby’s developing body – helping his (or her!) little arms and legs kick around. Some studies also suggest that ample consumption of Vitamin D by mom can help prevent bone density issues in the little one after birth.
Once baby has reached his or her first birthday, it’s time to introduce them to whole milk. Whole milk is a rich source of calcium which helps bones and teeth grow strong while regulating blood clotting and muscle control. Milk is also the major source of Vitamin D in our diet; it helps the body absorb calcium. Milk also helps to provide the dietary fats youngsters need for normal growth and brain development. Milk is packed with protein that fuels growth right into young adulthood; and the carbohydrates in dairy will give kids the energy they need to learn and run circles around you all day long! There’s also evidence that suggests if a child gets enough calcium from the start, they’ll have a lower risk of high blood pressure, stroke, colon cancer and hip fractures later in life. And once kids reach their grade-school and teen years, the Institute of Medicine recommends greater and greater amounts of calcium and Vitamin D daily to support their growing bodies. Now that's something to raise a glass to!