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Dairy Council

Nutrient richness

Nutrients in dairy

Milk and dairy foods are naturally rich sources of a wide range of nutrients. 

Milk contains high-quality protein, carbohydrate in the form of lactose, along with different fatty acids and a wide range of micronutrients including vitamins, minerals and trace elements.

Milk provides calcium, vitamin B12, riboflavin (vitamin B2), phosphorus, iodine and potassium. It also contains smaller amounts of other nutrients including vitamin A, niacin, folate, vitamin B6, vitamin D, magnesium, selenium and zinc. 

Products made from milk such as yogurt, fermented milks and cheese also contain many of the nutrients which are present in milk. Many yogurts and cheeses, for example, are natural sources of protein, calcium, phosphorus and vitamins B2 and B12. Hard cheeses, in addition, also have zinc, vitamin K2 and vitamin A.

Nutrient functions

The nutrients present in milk and dairy foods are involved in a number of important functions in the body. These include the well–known benefits of calcium for bones and teeth, and protein for muscle. But dairy nutrients also play a part in nerve and muscle function, energy release, vision, blood clotting and red blood cell formation, digestion, blood pressure, skin health, the immune system, psychological function and in children’s growth.

Click for more on the nutrients in:

Milk, Cheese, Yogurt

 

Nutritional quality of the diet

Nutrient-rich milk and dairy foods make an important contribution to the nutritional quality of the diet in Northern Ireland. They are the main providers of calcium, and dairy also makes significant contributions to the intake of many other nutrients including high–quality protein, riboflavin, vitamin B12, phosphorus, vitamin A, iodine, zinc and potassium.

In Northern Ireland, the dairy food group makes the largest contribution to the intakes of calcium, iodine, vitamin B2 and vitamin B12

Contribution (%) of milk and dairy foods to nutrient intakes in Northern Ireland

Nutrients

  • Protein

  • Calcium

  • Potassium

  • Iodine

  • Zinc

  •  Vitamin A

  •  Vitamin B2

  •  Vitamin B12*

 4–10 years

  • 21

  • 45

  • 22

  • 55

  • 23

  • 24

  • 43

  • 54

 11–18 years

  • 15

  • 378

  • 15

  • 44

  • 16

  • 18

  • 32

  • 40

Nutrients

  • Protein

  • Calcium

  • Potassium

  • Iodine

  • Zinc

  •  Vitamin A

  •  Vitamin B2

  •  Vitamin B12*

19–64 years

  • 13

  • 37

  • 12

  • 35

  • 15

  • 17

  • 29

  • 35

65 + years

  • 16

  • 43

  • 14

  • 39

  • 17

  • 15

  • 36

  • -

Reference: National Diet and Nutrition Survey. Results from Years 5–9 (combined) of the Rolling Programme (2012/13–2016/17): Northern Ireland

* B12 intakes for years 1–4