Is milk essential for our kids? The good, the bad and the Fads!

Is milk essential for our kids? The good, the bad and the Fads!

We all grew up on milk. It’s the first thing we are given when we are born. A glass in the morning before school at breakfast soon is the norm. If that wasn’t enough we were often topped up with a carton of milk at school break. So is this staple ingredient of childhood essential? Letss look at the good, the bad and the fads before 15min mom gives her views:

The Good

We’re all aware of the benefits of milk. Calcium and protein are essential to the growth of children and strengthening of bones and teeth. Full fat milk also contains essential calories from its fat and vital vitamins (D, B2 & B12). So why is this lactose sugar filled saturated fat drink so hyped about? On paper it sounds absolutely necessary in our children’s diets but is it essential?

Milk at different stages

In pregnancy pasteurised milk and dairy products are highly recommended for all the reasons above and to ensure a good calcium supply for the healthy development of an unborn baby’s bones.

From the day they are born until about the age of 1, we are given measures of milk quantity required by our little ones and timings for feeds. Also it is recommended that babies up to the age of 1 have breast milk or formula as cow’s milk doesn’t contain all the essential nutrients required at this early stage of life.

Trends are leading adults to consume less milk and choose other variants such as goat’s milk, soya milk, and coconut or almond milks. This avoidance owes itself to the levels of saturated and unwanted fat in full fat milk and the fact that three-fourths of the world’s population has lactose intolerance or cannot comfortably digest lactose, a sugar found in milk. But a cappuccino or latte without cow’s milk doesn’t quite taste the same. Semi-skimmed, 1% or skimmed options exist for the non-intolerant.

NHS guidelines state children should be given whole milk and dairy products until they are two years old because they may not get the calories or essential vitamins they need from lower-fat milks. After the age of two, children can gradually move to semi-skimmed milk as a drink, as long as they are eating a varied and balanced diet and growing well. Don’t give skimmed or 1% fat milk to children as a drink until they’re at least five years old. Skimmed or 1% fat milk doesn’t contain enough vitamin A and skimmed milk doesn’t contain enough calories for young children.

Children between the ages of one and three need to have around 350mg of calcium a day. About 300ml of milk (just over half a pint) would provide this. That’s about ONE glass of milk!

The Bad

So I’ve touched on the lactose and fat contents in milk and these pose an association with child obesity. Too much consumption is detrimental to a child’s health. But semi-skimmed or skimmed milk isn’t nutritionally balanced enough to consume, almost making its ingestion pointless.

The chemist in me says well if milk has undergone a pasteurisation chemical process and thereafter undergoes a skimming process, how much of this white bone strengthening potion are we actually consuming? Skim is more than just milk without fat. Skim is milk that’s fortified with synthetic vitamins to replace those lost in fat-removal, and milk solids to replace protein and calcium lost in processing. Skipping over the natural vs synthetic vitamin debate, consider how milk solids are made and what they contain. Whole milk is separated in a centrifuge that outputs two streams, one cream and one fat-free milk. The fat-free milk is pasteurized then condensed in a vacuum evaporator to remove water and increase the concentration of solids. It’s then sent to a spray dryer, think industrial, high-pressure milk atomizer. The sprayer shoots a fine spray of milk into a warm, air-filled chamber that removes more moisture, turning the milk into powdery spherical particles, aka milk solids. They pop up in various low-fat and fat-free dairy products.

Ok so this makes me want to consume full-fat over skimmed but where is the milk comingcows from in the first place? Cows kept in captivity that probably don’t see the light of day or know the colour of grass? Manufactured animals bred to be drained, agglomerated in the hundreds, dosed with antibiotics and hormones!!! Surely these animals cannot be producing good quality milk. Think a stressed out and malnutritioned new mother trying to produce breast milk for her infant…

Don’t like the sound of that?

So I investigated the organic milk ranges and that solves the quality issue but doesn’t help our diet with the fat and sugar (lactose) content in milk?

The Fads

Yes milk contains lactose (sugar), saturated fats and calories but also contains vitamins and nutrients healthy for our little ones. It also isn’t the only source of calcium for your child. In my view the key is not looking at foods in their separated components but as a whole. The benefits may outweigh the risks.

15min Mom Verdict

  • Too much of anything in life is injurious – moderation is the key.
  • It’s ONE glass a day for your toddler, preferably have Organic full fat.little-yeos
  • Get children to get their calcium from other sources like sugar free yoghurts (my favourites are Little Yeos and Rachels) with the added benefit of being a probiotic and great for the gut.
  • Consume cheese in moderation as these can be high in salt. Mozzarella is a lower salt containing cheese and great for kids.
  • Consume organic. You’re minimising risks and maximising quality assurance.
  • Adults – have your full-fat or skimmed milks in your coffees if you wish because chances are the quality of the milks at coffee shops are dubious anyway. Adults don’t necessarily need milk in their diet as long as it’s a balanced diet. I do believe lactose intolerance is more noticeable with age but that’s just my opinion.
  • Soya, coconut and almond milks at most coffee shops are sweetened (beats the purpose).
  • Make almond milk at home for your cereal, porridge, cooking etc and leave the milk ingestion for the school run coffee or the one for on the way to work. Cannot stress enough that moderation is the key!

almond-milkHome made easy Almond milk Recipe (makes 2 glasses)

  1. Soak a handful of raw almonds in water overnight or for a couple of hours
  2. Drain the water and rinse the almonds
  3. Place them in a blender, Vitamix or Nutribullet
  4. Fill with roughly 500ml of water
  5. Blend
  6. Sieve milk into a jug to remove skins and solid bits from the almonds
  7. Serve (can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 days)
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