Sunday, June 11, 2017

Non-Cow’s Milk and Children’s Height

Milk at meals is a healthy choice for kids over one year of age.  Children need milk for calcium and vitamin D for healthy bones.  Milk is also an excellent source of protein and provides many other nutrients important to good health.  Most parents give their kids cow’s milk every day, but for many reasons, some parents are choosing to give their kids non-cow milk alternatives like Almond Milk or Soy Milk.  A new study looked at the growth of children receiving cow’s milk, almond milk, soy milk, or rice milk.   

Findings:  Compared with children who consumed cow’s milk, those who drank non-cow’s milk were shorter than average for their age.... For each cup of cow’s milk a child drank, they were 0.2 centimeters taller.  Some kids drank both cow’s milk and alternative non-cow’s milk.  These children were also shorter than average.
For example, the study noted a 3-year-old who drank 3 cups of cow’s milk a day would be .6 inches or about one-half inch taller than a 3-year-old who drank 3 cups of non-cow’s milk a day.

Why?  What is the difference in nutritional value between cow’s milk and non-cow’s milk?  It doesn’t seem to be the calcium or vitamin D content of the milks.  The study author, Dr. Maguire, noted:  two cups of cow’s milk contain around 16 grams of protein, which is 100 percent of the daily protein recommendation for a 3-year-old child.  In comparison, two cups of almond milk contain just 4 grams of protein.   And 4 grams of protein would be only 25% of a 3-year-old’s daily protein requirement.  However, the study concluded that more research is needed to find out the relationship between non-cow’s milk and height.
Non-cow’s milk is also usually lower in fat than whole cow’s milk.  One news article noted:  Researchers believe this may be due to non-cow’s milk lower fat and protein content halting children’s growth.  

Federal Regulations – the federal government regulates cow’s milk and the nutritional value such as how much vitamin D is added.  But the nutritional value of non-cow’s milk isn’t regulated. 
Drinking milk is important to children’s health.  Drinking cow’s milk offers children not only calcium and vitamin D but also a good serving of high quality protein.  Not just kids, but many adults drink non-cow’s milk.   A young woman I know drinks Almond Milk in place of cow’s milk because Almond Milk has less calories per serving.  This woman has grown to her full height and gets plenty of protein from other sources.  So, for her, Almond Milk may be a good choice.  Many guys like to ensure adequate protein in their diets and for them, drinking cow’s milk would be a good choice as not only is it higher in protein than non-cow’s milk, the protein in cow’s milk is a high-quality protein.  But for parents of growing children over one year of age, this study provides important information for parents to be aware of.  CBS news noted:    Maguire says parents shouldn’t assume milk alternatives are “healthier” than cow’s milk – no matter what the advertising claims.

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