In a 2022 study published in the scientific journal Nutrients, researchers used digital survey data from more than 1,200 college students across three U.S. universities to examine a potential relationship between dairy and calcium intake and students’ mental health. Measures of mental health included students’ reported levels of anxiety and rumination, as well as positive and negative states of mood, amongst other factors. Survey questions regarding participant diet were also posed, such as how often students had consumed milk within the last month. Everything from traditional milk to buttermilk, flavored milks, lactose-free milk, and cereal milk was valid, with the exception of soy milk or minor amounts of milk, such as for a cup of coffee.
The results showed that both dairy and calcium consumption were each linked with increases in students’ positive mood scores. In fact, positive mood scores increased by 3% per cup of dairy. Additionally, greater dairy intake was also associated with lower scores of perceived stress among students. Dairy did not, however, affect every measure of mental health outlined in the research. No relationship was observed between dairy intake and levels of anxiety, resilience, rumination, or negative mood scores.