You might associate milk with calcium, healthy bones, and height- but is it really necessary for your child? In short, it depends on lactose tolerance, diet variance, capacity to digest milk among other factors. Below we’ll impartially lay out the pros and cons of milk consumption so you can make an educated decision.
Milk products are rich sources of essential nutrients like calcium, vitamin A, vitamin B12, vitamin D. Studies show that milk helps to maintain calcium and vitamin D levels in your body. Vitamin D fortified milk can also help children avoid diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and multiple sclerosis.
Milk may make your child taller
Milk is a natural source of growth hormone (GH) and insulin derived growth hormone (IDF-I). Studies revealed that preschool children in the top 25% of milk consumption were on average 1cm taller than their peers. Even controlling for age, sex, family income, and ethnicity, milk consumption was still a predictor of adolescent height.
Don’t give cows milk to babies under 12 months
According to the American Academy of Paediatrics, parents should not give cows milk to children under 12 months. Milk contains excessive levels of protein, sodium, and potassium (for babies under 12 months) while lacking fatty acids (present in Omega-3’s) essential for development. Many babies also cannot digest milk properly which can lead to malnourishment and illnesses.
Milk can inhibit iron absorption
Milk is a poor source of iron and the high levels of calcium act as an iron inhibitor. Children can develop iron deficiencies if milk is consumed with iron-rich foods.
Increased insulin production
Milk contains IDF-I which is a natural growth hormone, but also stimulates insulin production. Research has proven that milk consumption causes temporary spikes in insulin levels, But long term consumption may lead to chronically elevated insulin levels which are associated with: heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.