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To Have Dairy or Not to Have Dairy?

by Hilton Head Health Program Manager Felicia Hackett

milk, calcium, vitamin d

The Big Debate

The Healthy Eating Plate created by health experts at Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School recommend only 1-2 servings of dairy per day. They even go as far as saying the word “limit” dairy. Their experts have found that more dairy is not necessarily good, that high intakes are associated with increased risk of prostate cancer and possibly ovarian cancer. Harvard says drink water and MyPlate.gov advocates for dairy at every meal. Regardless of which group you agree or disagree with, we can all agree that stong bones are integral to live a healthy, balanced lifestyle.

Whether you have a love or hate relationship with milk, you can easily vary your Vitamin D and Calcium sources with healthy alternatives.

Whole Food Sources of Calcium


    • Calcium is found in dark leafy greens like collard greens and kale as well as broccoli.


    • Calcium is also fortified in soy, rice, and almond milk.


    • Calcium is found in are beans and tofu.

Non-Food Sources


    • Vitamin D by way of sun exposure builds strong bones.


    • If you live in an area with limited sun exposure, consider taking a multi-vitamin with 1,000 IU of Vitamin D.


    • Regular weight bearing exercises whether from resistance training or walking helps build strong bones.

A diet rich in non-starchy vegetables and unsweetened plant based milk alternatives are great ways to get adequate calcium without any added sugars or saturated fat. A healthy lifestyle with diet a diet rich in plants and regular exercise will help build and maintain strong bones.