“And what is so rare as a day in June? Then, if ever, come perfect days.” –James Russell Lowell.
No one says it better than the famous American romantic poet: June truly is a beautiful time of year. The flowers have bloomed and the sun is shining (finally). Deer emerge from forests, and cows stroll out of their barns. They are ready to produce hundreds of gallons of milk for us, just in time for National Dairy Month.
So how did National Dairy Month begin? It all started with National Milk Month, a 1937 effort to promote drinking milk. At this time, dairy production was at its peak, and producers needed a way to stabilize demand. Now, as National Dairy Month, the occasion celebrates the positive impact the dairy industry has made on the world.
Dairy Month is a great way to kick off summer by staying cool on hot days. After all, smoothies and ice cream are a dairy product. Dairy is full of vitamins and minerals that have great benefits for your body. The most prevalent nutrient in dairy is calcium. In fact, dairy foods are the primary source of calcium in the American diet. They are also a great source of vitamin D and potassium.
Sometimes, getting calcium from healthy dairy products can be a challenge. Healthy sources include milk, cheese and yogurt. Surprisingly, cow’s milk is not the only source of milk that humans can drink. For those who cannot consume dairy, calcium supplements are available as well. Supplements include calcium carbonate, calcium citrate and calcium gluconate. Despite being good for your body, there is an upper limit for calcium. The limit is 2,500mg per day, meaning you should not consume more than that amount of calcium a day.
When taking a calcium supplement or consuming calcium, it is smart to know how your body uses it. Here are some fun, interesting facts about milk and calcium:
- Calcium’s main function is to build and maintain bone mass; this helps prevent osteoporosis.
- The human body can only absorb about 500mg of calcium at one time.
- Calcium is best absorbed in an acidic setting, so take calcium with a meal!
- Do not take calcium with iron; they compete in the GI tract.
- Humans can drink milk from plenty of other animals besides cows.
Although cow’s milk is the most popular source of dairy humans consume, there are a variety of animals that produce milk. Around the world, people drink milk from other animals like camels, goats, llamas, reindeer, sheep and water buffalo.
With National Dairy Month under way, one goal for this month could be to try out a new dairy product, or even perhaps a new type of milk.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
8 strawberries, hulled
1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 cup plain low- fat yogurt
3 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 ice cubes, crushed
In a blender, combine strawberries, milk, yogurt, sugar, and vanilla. Toss in the ice. Blend until smooth and creamy. Pour into a glass and serve.