COLUMBIA, Mo. – June is National Dairy Month, when we honor the hard work and dedication of dairy farmers. This cornerstone of American agriculture contributes to the economy and to the health and well-being of communities. University of Missouri Extension offers resources, expertise and research tailored for dairy producers and consumers, connecting dairy products to key production and business information.

Putting dairy in your diet

Dairy products are nutritional powerhouses, packed with essential nutrients vital for our health, including calcium, potassium, vitamin D and protein.

Around 90% of Americans do not meet federal dietary guidelines for dairy. Most people would benefit from getting more fat-free or low-fat dairy. This can come from milk, yogurt or cheese. It can also come from lactose-free milk and fortified soy milk or yogurt.

Incorporating dairy into your daily routine is easier than you might think. Start your day with a bowl of yogurt topped with fresh fruit and nuts, or enjoy a glass of milk with your breakfast. Cheese can be a delicious addition to salads, sandwiches and various dishes, providing both flavor and nutrition.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises consumers to “always choose pasteurized milk and dairy products to protect your health and the health of your family,” said Scott Poock, MU Extension dairy specialist. Pasteurization kills harmful bacteria and viruses in milk. “The safety of pasteurized milk and dairy products is something consumers can count on.”

Some important facts about dairy’s role in a healthy diet:

  • Beginning at age 9, we should aim for three servings of dairy each day. This is especially important during childhood and adolescence, when we are storing away calcium for our bones to be their strongest. Without enough calcium, we may be at higher risk for brittle bones as we age.
  • Many plant-based beverages sold as “milk” these days are not nutritionally similar to cow’s milk. If you choose to drink one of these alternatives, check the nutrition label to make sure it is fortified with calcium and vitamin D.
  • Did you know the only difference between whole, 2% and nonfat milks is the fat content? They all have roughly the same amount of calcium, vitamin D and other nutrients.
  • Foods like butter, cream, sour cream and cream cheese aren’t considered part of the dairy group because they are low in calcium and high in saturated fat.
  • To get the same amount of calcium from one 8-ounce glass of milk, you would have to eat 7.5 cups of broccoli, 10 cups of raw spinach, or six slices of whole wheat bread!

Here’s what counts as one cup from the dairy group:

  • 1 cup of milk, yogurt or soy milk.
  • About ⅓ cup (1 ½ ounces) natural cheese (e.g. cheddar, Swiss, mozzarella).

Your dairy needs vary depending on your age, sex, height, weight and physical activity level. Find the right amount of dairy for you by getting your MyPlate Plan (

Ways to celebrate National Dairy Month

  • Visit a dairy farm and take a tour or watch a virtual dairy farm tour.
  • Try dairy-based recipes.
  • Make your own butter or ice cream at home.

National Dairy Month is a reminder of the contributions of dairy farmers and the nutritional significance of dairy in our lives. Raise a glass in celebration and let us embrace dairy as an integral part of our diets, enriching our lives with every delicious sip and bite.


Recipes from Midwest Dairy

Recipes from USDA

MU Extension recipes:

Extension publications and articles

“Freezing offers milk lovers an option for stocking up” (news release)

Dairy: 3 a day for strong bones (downloadable PDFs)

“How To Freeze Meat, Poultry, Fish, Eggs and Dairy Products” (publication)

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