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The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) today urged a scientific advisory panel working on the next round of federal dietary advice to keep the recommendation of three daily servings of dairy products for most Americans, since dairy products are the number-one source of nine key nutrients.

"Dairy foods are uniquely nutrient-rich and virtually irreplaceable in the diet if we want to meet nutrient recommendations," said NMPF Vice President for Nutrition Beth Briczinski. "We strongly urge the committee to maintain the current recommendation of three daily servings of dairy, and to focus on the serious public health problem of under-consumption of milk and dairy products."

Briczinski reminded the group that milk, cheese, and yogurt contribute more than half the calcium and vitamin D in the American diet, and are the primary source of seven other essential nutrients in children's diets: phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, vitamins A, B12, D, and riboflavin. In fact, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) found that when foods from the milk group were removed from model food patterns, intakes of calcium, vitamin D, and three other important nutrients fell below the goals.

"Even if calcium levels can be maintained with alternative foods, the levels of other nutrients such as protein, potassium, and vitamin D are adversely affected – there is simply no substitute for dairy," she said. "Americans have major shortfalls in recommended milk consumption starting at four years of age. None of us should find that acceptable."

Research published since 2010 has strengthened the case for dairy's beneficial role in reducing the risk of several chronic diseases, according to Briczinski. "The good news is that if people who under-consume dairy would add even one serving a day, that would bring average daily intakes of Americans much closer to meeting Dietary Guideline recommendations. We hope this committee will encourage people who are under-consuming dairy to add that extra serving."

Briczinski cited recent research indicating dairy is an inexpensive way of providing these nutrients, and that since the last round of federal nutrition advice, the case has been strengthened that dairy is beneficial in reducing the risk of several chronic diseases.

"Many population groups do not consume anywhere near the recommended amounts of dairy," she said. "The good news is that if people who under-consume dairy would add even one serving a day, that would bring average daily intakes … much close to meeting Dietary Guideline recommendations."

Briczinski was speaking at the second of two days of public hearings of the DGAC for the 2015 edition of the federal government's basic consumer diet advice, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The dietary guidelines are issued jointly by the departments of agriculture and health and human services every five years. The hearings were held in Bethesda, Maryland, outside Washington.

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