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Dairy, and your calcium requirements throughout life

Calcium, nutrition

Some random facts for you:

  • There are about 126 calories in a 200ml glass of whole milk, 92 in semi skimmed and 68 in skimmed.

  • Whole milk is still less than 4% fat, so would warrant an amber colour in the fat charts on food

  • To get the same amount of calcium that you get in said glass of milk you’d need to eat 680g of broccoli, 990g spinach or 63 brussel sprouts! That’s a lot of the green stuff

  • There are more than 700 named cheeses made in the UK

  • Milk sold in the supermarkets is pasteurised, which means it’s flash heated before being quickly cooled to get rid of potentially harmful bacteria

  • A cow produces nearly 200,000 glasses of milk in its lifetime

  • It takes 10 litres of milk to make 1kg of cheese

Dairy/ calcium requirements throughout your life:

Infants and primary school children: need nutrient rich diary to sustain growth. Whole milk from age 1 and semi-skimmed from age 2. Skimmed and 1% fat not suitable for under 5’s. Age 7-10 need 550mg of calcium - about 150ml of milk plus, 150g plain low fat yoghurt and 20g (finger size) cheese.

Teenagers: calcium demands are the highest now, as bones are growing most. Around 80% of the skeletons growth is done before we’re 18. Age 11-18 girls need 800mg and 1000mg for boys - about 200ml (girls)/ 250ml (boys) glass of milk plus 200g plain low fat yoghurt and 30g (girls)/ 45g (boys) (matchstick box size) cheese.

Pregnant or breastfeeding: more calcium intake is required at this point to both meet your own nutritional demands but also those of your growing baby. There’s no specific increase stated for in pregnancy but when breastfeeding you should be looking at around 1250mg – 2 large glasses of milk (500ml) plus 150g plain low fat yoghurt and 45g of hard cheese.

Adults: bones are still developing until 30 but after that bone density starts to deplete, causing risk of fracture and osteoporosis. Keep to around 700mg of calcium.

What other nutrients are in milk?

72% of your vitamin B12 daily intake

40% of your iodine daily intake

34% of your Vitamin B2 daily intake

31% of your calcium daily intake

14% of your protein daily intake

Unless you’re lactose intolerant or vegan here are a few tips to get your daily intake:

Add a little milk to scrambled eggs to make them creamier

Swap jam for a light-cheese spread on toast

Eat a yoghurt and fruit mix for breakfast

Add milk to your smoothie/ protein shake


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* dairy info courtesy of Waitrose

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