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MILK Symposium review: the importance of milk and dairy foods in the diets of infants, adolescents, pregnant women, adults, and the elderly

Givens, I. (2020) MILK Symposium review: the importance of milk and dairy foods in the diets of infants, adolescents, pregnant women, adults, and the elderly. Journal of Dairy Science, 103 (11). pp. 9681-9699. ISSN 1525-3198

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To link to this item DOI: 10.3168/jds.2020-18296


The ongoing increase in life expectancy is not always accompanied by an increase in healthy life span. There is increasing evidence that dietary exposure in early life can substantially affect chronic disease risk in later life. Milk and dairy foods are important suppliers of a range of key nutrients, with some being particularly important at certain life stages. It is now recognized that milk protein can stimulate insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), essential for longitudinal bone growth and bone mass acquisition in young children, thus reducing the risk of stunting. Low milk consumption during adolescence, particularly by girls, may contribute to suboptimal intake of calcium, magnesium, iodine, and other important nutrients. Given the generally low vitamin D status of European populations, this may have already affected bone development, and any resulting reduced bone strength may become a big issue when the populations are much older. Suboptimal iodine status of many young women has already been reported together with several observational studies showing an association between suboptimal iodine status during pregnancy and reduced cognitive development in the offspring. There is now good evidence that consumption of milk and dairy foods does not lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes. Indeed, some negative associations are seen, notably between yogurt consumption and type 2 diabetes, which should be researched with urgency. Greater emphasis should be placed on reducing malnutrition in the elderly and on dietary approaches to reduce their loss of muscle mass, muscle functionality, and bone strength. Whey protein has been shown to be particularly effective for reducing muscle loss; this needs to be developed to provide simple dietary regimens for the elderly to follow. There is an ongoing, often too simplistic debate about the relative value of animal versus plant food sources for protein in particular. It is important that judgments on the replacement of dairy products with those from plants also include the evidence on relative functionality, which is not expressed in simple nutrient content (e.g., hypotensive and muscle synthesis stimulation effects). Only by considering such functionality will a true comparison be achieved.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Interdisciplinary Research Centres (IDRCs) > Institute for Food, Nutrition and Health (IFNH)
ID Code:94534
Publisher:American Dairy Science Association


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