Many of us associate milk with our childhoods. Whether it was enjoyed over our favorite cereal before school, paired with a cookie before bed, or flavored with chocolate syrup for the ultimate slumber-party treat, milk was a daily staple.
Fast forward to adulthood. Now, you seldom fill your glass, mug, or bowl with milk. That may make you wonder if milk is necessary for adults—and if you’re missing something other than the magic of childhood. Here are four reasons you may want to revisit the childhood habit of drinking milk, ideally three glasses a day, to benefit your health.
Boost Your Bones
Milk’s unique nutrition profile includes nine essential nutrients, including calcium, vitamin D, and high-quality protein, all vital to overall bone health. Both calcium and vitamin D are referred to as nutrients of concern by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, because most adults simply don’t get enough—and that can be harmful to your health. It takes just a single glass of milk to achieve 25% of the daily recommendation for calcium and 15% of the recommendation for vitamin D. No matter your age, drinking milk regularly can help maintain muscle and preserve bone strength to lower risk for fractures and osteoporosis.
Without milk in your glass, you’re likely missing out on essential nutrients your body requires to function optimally. And they’re difficult to replace with other foods. For example, to replace the amount of calcium and vitamin D in three 8-ounce glasses of milk, you’d have to eat about 17 cups of raw kale and approximately 15 sardines. Surprising, right? Beyond calcium and vitamin D, it can be difficult to meet the daily recommendations for vitamin A, B12, and phosphorus in the absence of milk.
Defend Against Type 2 Diabetes
Being a milk drinker could also help lower your risk of type 2 diabetes. One analysis of 22 studies, including nearly 600,000 people, found that total dairy consumption was inversely related to diabetes risk. This means that the more regularly people consumed dairy foods including milk and yogurt, the less likely they were to develop the disease. It seems like a reasonable habit to adopt to combat a condition that effects as many as one in 10 Americans.
Milk is a source of potassium, calcium, magnesium, and protein—all key nutrients that play a role in blood pressure regulation. What’s more, higher intakes of milk are associated with lower blood pressure and incidence of hypertension. One study of 52 middle-aged men and women showed that those who consumed the most servings of dairy foods on a daily basis—up to six servings per day—saw a greater reduction in blood pressure after a six-week period than those who consumed one or fewer servings. Additional analysis revealed that the higher intake of calcium by these individuals is what drove the reduction of blood pressure.
Are you an active individual? Research consistently shows that consuming chocolate milk after exercise or sports performance is a top-notch way to replenish nutrients, such as carbohydrates, protein, fluids, and even electrolytes needed for recovery. And while chocolate milk contains a small amount of added sugar, the overall nutrition package is far superior to other recovery beverages out there. It tastes great too!
Milk: Not Just for Kids
As you can see, unless you are unable to drink milk because of an allergy or lactose intolerance, milk isn’t just for kids. There are bountiful health benefits for adults who drink three servings a day too. Check out these simple ideas for making milk a regular part of your everyday meals and snacks.
- Make overnight oats with milk instead of water.
- Blend a green smoothie with spinach, milk, orange juice, strawberries, and flax seeds.
- Refuel with a glass of chocolate milk after exercise.
- Add milk to hot or iced coffee.
- Eat a bowl of whole-grain cereal with milk for an afternoon snack.