How much dairy do I need a day? How much dairy do I need a day?

Due to its calcium levels, dairy is an essential part of our daily diets. The recommended daily amount can vary by age, gender and specific needs, however.

Before we begin to discuss amounts, however, it is important to identify the foods that are truly considered dairy products.

Included in this group are foods made with milk that maintain their calcium content such as soymilk that is fortified with calcium (soy beverages). Not included in this group are foods made with milk that have little or no calcium such as cream cheese, cream and butter.

The following table provides the amounts of calcium that are recommended by the U.S. nutrition program, ChooseMyPlate.

DAILY RECOMMENDATION
Children 2-3 years old 2 cups Women 19-30 years old 3 cups
4-8 years old 2 ½ cups 31-50 years old 3 cups
Girls 9-13 years old 3 cups 51+ years old 3 cups
14-18 years old 3 cups Men 19-30 years old 3 cups
Boys 9-13 years old 3 cups 31-50 years old 3 cups
14-18 years old 3 cups 51+ years old 3 cups

When choosing dairy products, opt for fat-free or low-fat products.