Body builder: eight great reasons to drink milk

From fitness to vitamins to protein – milk is a fantastic nutrition building block


“It’s well known that milk is an excellent source of calcium, which is a key nutrient for bone growth, development and maintenance. In fact, 99 per cent of the body’s calcium is found in our bones and teeth,” says Dr Marianne Walsh, nutrition manager at the National Dairy Council. “But there’s more to milk than calcium – with just one glass providing us with eight essential nutrients, each playing important roles for our health.”

1. B vitamins: keep your batteries charged

Milk is a natural source of vitamins B2, B5 and B12. These nutrients play key roles in generating energy in our bodies, reducing feelings of tiredness and fatigue and ensuring our immune system works as it should.

2. Iodine: a “no brainer”

Iodine is a key nutrient for cognitive (brain) function, with functions including memory, attention, perception, reasoning and the ability to retain information. Irish milk is considered an excellent source of iodine and milk is one of the main food sources of this mineral in the Irish diet.

3. Phosphorus: for all of us

Our skeletons act as the frame for our bodies, providing essential functions such as support, movement and protection. In addition to calcium and protein, phosphorus is a key nutrient essential for bone health, playing an important role in the growth, development and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth.

4. Potassium: cut the pressure

Potassium is an important mineral for blood pressure control and recent studies have suggested a beneficial role for potassium in the prevention of high blood pressure. With rapidly increasing rates of Irish adults having high blood pressure, this certainly is a nutrient worth watching.

5. Protein: flex those muscles

With over 600 muscles in our bodies playing vital roles for our movement and support; strong muscles are not just important for bodybuilders, but are essential for completing everyday tasks such as walking, taking the stairs or carrying our shopping. Protein is a crucial nutrient involved in muscle growth and maintenance and we need to consume protein regularly throughout the day to supply our muscles. Milk is rich in protein and is a “complete” protein, meaning it contains all of the essential amino acids (building blocks of protein), our bodies require.

6. Milk matrix: nutrients working better together

The emerging concept of the “milk matrix” looks at how the various nutrients and components present in milk work together in synergy. This research explores how the health effects of these nutrients, combined in whole dairy foods, may be more effective than the individual nutrients working in isolation.

7. More than milk

Don’t forget that dairy products such as yogurt and cheese are made from milk and, therefore, contain many of the same essential nutrients. The Department of Health’s Food Pyramid recommends three servings from the “milk, yogurt and cheese” food group each day as part of a healthy, balanced diet. Between the ages of 9-18 years, five servings per day are recommended due to the increased calcium requirements at this life stage. Examples of one serving include a 200ml glass of milk, 125ml yogurt and 25g (matchbox-size piece cheddar) cheese.

8. Variety and versatility

Milk is nutritious, convenient, versatile, and most importantly tastes great. Here are some top tips to enjoy milk across the day:

  • Start your day with a bowl of warm porridge made with milk
  • Include milk in a fresh fruit smoothie
  • Treat yourself to a frothy café latte
  • Add milk to soups and sauces
  • Include milk in scrambled egg or omelettes
  • Have a cup of hot chocolate or a glass of warm milk before bed

For more information visit ndc.ie/dairy-goodness

The National Dairy council