Nutrition :: African-Americans may lack key nutrients for optimal health

A new report released today in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association reveals that African Americans in all age groups have lower average intakes of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus and consume fewer servings of dairy foods than non African Americans.

African Americans in all age groups do not meet the 2005 Dietary Guidelines recommendation for three daily servings of low-fat or fat-free milk or milk products.

“Researchers continue to monitor populations that are at risk for nutrient deficiencies. In reviewing the science for this report, it was evident that African Americans are missing out on nutrients key to a well-balanced diet,” said Greg Miller, Ph.D., a report author and executive vice president of science and research at the National Dairy Council. “We hope this report will remind African Americans to consume nutrient-rich dairy foods everyday as part of a healthy diet. In fact, studies show dairy intake improves overall diet quality; contributes to better bone health; and may help reduce the risk of osteoporosis, hypertension, kidney stones, colon cancer and obesity.”

Health professionals continue to recognize the benefits of milk, cheese and yogurt as part of a healthy diet, which together provide nine essential nutrients including calcium, potassium, phosphorus, protein, riboflavin, niacin (niacin equivalents) and vitamins A, D and B12. “It is important for all Americans to follow the Dietary Guidelines, including three servings of dairy everyday,” said Albert Morris, M.D., president of the National Medical Association (NMA), the largest and oldest national organization representing Black physicians and their patients in the United States.

A consensus report from the NMA, The Role of Dairy and Dairy Nutrients in the Diet of African Americans, reported that only 24 percent of African Americans believe themselves to be lactose intolerant.

“This report further underscores the importance of African Americans increasing intake of key nutrients found in dairy foods,” said Morris. “Because of the benefits of dairy foods, it is important to educate patients who are sensitive to lactose to use simple strategies to make dairy easier to digest: drinking small amounts of milk at meals, drinking lactose-reduced or lactose-free milk, eating yogurt, or consuming hard cheeses, such as Cheddar or Swiss, that are naturally low in lactose.

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