The Institute's Milk Matters campaign stresses low-fat or fat-free milk as the preferred source of dietary calcium because:
- Milk has a high calcium content.
- Calcium in milk is easily absorbed by the body.
- Milk contains other nutrients, including vitamin D, vitamin A, B12, potassium, magnesium, and protein, that are essential to healthy bone and tooth development.
The NICHD bases its recommendations on the 1994 National Institutes of Health (NIH) Consensus Development Conference on Optimal Calcium Intake, and on additional guidance from the 2000 NIH Consensus Development Conference on Osteoporosis Prevention, Diagnosis, and Therapy. "If you don't drink milk, it's important to get calcium from other sources, like other dairy products, green leafy vegetables, and foods with added calcium," explained Dr. Alexander.
The Milk Matters campaign offers a variety of free materials on the importance of calcium in the diets of children and teens. Brochures, booklets, fact sheets, coloring books, stickers, and posters are among those items available on its recently revamped Web site, most in both English and Spanish. The Milk Matters web site, www.nichd.nih.gov/milkmatters, is also an excellent source for information on calcium for health care professionals.
The site includes:
- Why Milk Matters — explains why children and teens need calcium and why milk is the NICHD's preferred source for dietary calcium; also provides a history of the Milk Matters campaign and lists some of the groups that partner with the NICHD on certain activities.
- Why Calcium — explains why calcium is so important, how much calcium children and teens need, and how physical activity plays a role in building strong bones; also lists foods that are sources of calcium and provides facts about lactose intolerance and calcium supplements.
- Health Research — provides summaries for NICHD research projects that focus on calcium and healthy development, as well as a calendar of calcium-related events, conferences, and meetings; also offers materials for health care professionals on different topics related to calcium and bone health.
- Media Information — indicates how reporters, producers, announcers, and other members of the media can get information about the Milk Matters campaign.
- Publications and Materials — includes online versions of all the Milk Matters materials to view, download, print, and order.
- Kids & Teens — this newly developed section of the Web site provides an interactive place for children and teens to learn more about calcium. It includes games, quizzes, and other activities related to calcium and milk, as well as fun ways to build strong and healthy bones and teeth.
- Salud! Con Leche — is the Spanish version of the Milk Matters Web site. This portion of the site offers all the information and materials from the Milk Matters campaign in Spanish, to allow this important health message to reach a larger audience.
The NICHD also supports research and encourages outreach to better understand and promote the importance of calcium in Americans' diets.
For more information on the Milk Matters campaign, contact the NICHD Clearinghouse at 1-800-370-2943, or visit the campaign Web site at www.nichd.nih.gov/milkmatters.