The Consumer Education Project of Milk SA

Do adults need dairy in their diet?

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Yes. The FBDGs in 85 countries include milk and dairy as part of their recommendations.

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There is some perception that milk is not needed in the diet after weaning, as nutrients become available from other foods. This perception is supported partly by the observation that some people experience a reduced ability to digest the milk sugar lactose after weaning.

However, many populations have evolved genetically to continue to digest lactose and so benefit from milk’s nutrients throughout life. This genetic adaptation, known as lactase persistence, is recognised as an evolutionary advantage that coincides with the start of domestication and agricultural use of dairy animals in the Middle East about 11 000 years ago. As dairy foods provide a wide range of vitamins and minerals, consuming milk is seen as nutritionally beneficial. Milk is therefore recognised worldwide as a nutritious food and 85 countries have included milk and dairy as part of their food-based dietary guidelines.

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