Milk and dairy foods are tasty, convenient and affordable
Dairy foods provide high–quality protein which, along with physical activity, contributes to maintaining muscle as we get older. Protein contributes to maintaining bone health too
Milk and dairy can be an easy way of adding valuable protein to older people's diets - milk on cereal at breakfast, for example, or in a drink before bed. A pot of yogurt or a piece of cheese can make a quick, tasty protein-rich snack
Milk and dairy foods are also good calcium–providers for helping to maintain bones
Calcium can help to reduce loss of bone mineral in postmenopausal women; for women over 50 years an extra 500mg is suggested so 1,200mg calcium per day in total. The recommendation for men is 700mg calcium per day
Vitamin D is also important for healthy bones in older people as it’s needed for the absorption of calcium from food. We get small amounts of vitamin D from our diet, from foods such as oily fish, meat and eggs, and foods with added vitamin D including some breakfast cereals, milks and yogurts but the majority is made in our skin from exposure to summer sunlight. As we get older, our skin becomes less efficient at producing vitamin D.
Older people who don’t get outdoors very often or who cover up when they are outside, are particularly at risk of being short of vitamin D. It is recommended that people over the age of 65 take a 10 microgram supplement of vitamin D each day.
Along with calcium and protein, foods from the milk and dairy group contain other important nutrients for older people – for example, yogurt and milk have riboflavin (also known as vitamin B2), which contributes to the normal functioning of the nervous system, and vitamin B12 for normal red blood cell formation and the immune system.