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Nutritional Health|01 April 2022

Benefits of milk as a staple in a child’s diet

Clinical cum pediatric nutritionist and diabetic educator at Qua Nutrition with over 12 years of experience, BSc in Nutrition, Food Service Management & Dietetics, MSc in Health Sciences, and a Diploma in Vegan & Vegetarian Nutrition

Our elders have always encouraged us to have a glass of milk every day. It has several health advantages and is essential for a child’s wellbeing and development. Milk must be consumed in requisite quantities to reap its benefits.

Many necessary elements, such as Vitamin D, protein, and calcium, may be found in milk. Although several nutrients found in milk may also be available in other foods, such as legumes, seafood and vegetables, milk provides all of them in one handy package.

Milk Nutrition:

Per 200mlCow’s MilkRDABuffalo MilkRDA
Calories130 232 
Protein6.2 gms12.4% of RDA (50 gm)8.4 gms16.8% of RDA (50 gm)
Carbs8.8 gms4.8 % of RDA (130gm)9.7gms6.4 % of RDA (130gm)
Fats8 gms20% of RDA (40 gm)12 gms30% of RDA (40 gm)
Calcium240 mg40% of RDA (600 mg)420 mg 70% of RDA (600 mg)
Phosphorus180 mg30% of RDA (600 mg)260 mg43.33% of RDA (600 mg)
Vitamin B2, Riboflavin0.38 mg34.54% of RDA (1.1 mg)0.2 mg 18.18% of RDA (1.1 mg)
Cholesterol10 mg2.5% of RDA (400 mg)32 mg  8% of RDA (400 mg)
Zinc0.66 mg6.6% of RDA (10 mg)0.6 mg6% of RDA (10 mg)
Vitamin A106 mcg2.2% of RDA (4800 mcg)320 mcg6.6% of RDA (4800 mcg)
Vitamin B1, Thiamine0.1 mg7.69% of RDA (1.2 – 1.5 mg)0.08 mg6.15% of RDA (1.2 – 1.5 mg)
Folic Acid17 mg7.5% of RDA (200 mg)11.2 mg5.5% of RDA (200 mg)
Vitamin C2 mg2% of RDA (40 mg)2 mg2% of RDA (40 mg)
Potassium280 mg5.95% of RDA (4700 mg)180 mg3.82% of RDA (4700 mg)
Sodium146 mg7.67% of RDA (1900 mg)38 mg2% of RDA (1900 mg)
Iron0.4 mg1.9% of RDA (21 mg)0.4 mg1.9% of RDA (21 mg)
Vitamin B3, Niacin0.2 mg1.6% of RDA (12 mg)0.2 mg 1.6% of RDA (12 mg)

Key nourishment benefits of milk

Calcium:

Calcium is necessary for healthy bones and teeth, irrespective of age. It lowers the risk of osteoporosis and fractures at an older age. If you don’t consume milk or dairy products and do not consume any alternate sources of calcium, you will be at a higher risk of fractured bones.

Vitamin D 

Vitamin D aids calcium absorption from your diet and regulates blood phosphorus levels. It also helps enhance immunity.

Protein

Milk has two forms of protein: casein – an insoluble milk protein, and whey protein – a soluble milk protein. Casein aids in calcium and phosphorus absorption while whey protein helps muscle growth and lean muscle retention.

Potassium

The body’s fluid balance, muscular contraction, and blood pressure are regulated by Potassium. Its deficiency can result in muscular cramps, exhaustion, and blood pressure variations.

Phosphorus

Phosphorus, Vitamin D, and Calcium are necessary for bone health. Phosphorus aids in protein production and controls fat and carbohydrate usage in the body.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A safeguards against age-related vision deterioration, strengthens the immune system, decreases the likelihood of acne, and promotes bone health.

Regular Milk or A2 Milk? What’s the difference?

Casein accounts for 80% of total protein in milk, with beta-casein accounting for the remaining 20%. Beta-casein has two genetic types: A1 and A2. Cows that generate A1 beta-casein protein are called A1 cows, whereas those that exclusively produce A2 beta-casein are known as A2 cows. A1 cows are genetically modified to have 15-20 litres of milk each day, whereas A2 cows naturally produce 3-9 litres each day. Unlike A1 cows, A2 cows are not given GMOs, antibiotics, or growth hormone injections, making their milk gut-friendly and easy to digest without compromising nutrition.

Is Goat or Camel Milk any different?

Camel milk contains thrice the vitamin C and 10 times the iron content of cow milk. It is also abundant in unsaturated fatty acids, B vitamins, and has antimicrobial properties. It’s lactose-free, making it a viable choice for lactose-intolerant people. Goat milk has lesser fat, is high in calcium and protein, is simple to digest, and has anti-inflammatory properties. However, it is not suitable for lactose-intolerant individuals.

Lactose Intolerance: Symptoms, diagnostic tests, and milk alternatives

Lactose is a sugar present in milk and other dairy products. Lactose intolerance occurs when the small intestine cannot produce enough lactase, a digesting enzyme that breaks down lactose so that the body can absorb it.

Each individual has different symptoms of lactose intolerance, some of which are nausea, bloating, gas, diarrhoea, and stomach cramps.

Some readily available lactose-free milk alternatives are soy milk, almond milk, oats milk, and rice milk.

Genetic testing, microbiome testing, and immunoglobulins blood tests can help detect lactose intolerance.

Children who like the texture and taste of cow milk may find it challenging to switch to lactose-free alternatives. Health powders can be added to make them more exciting and appealing. The child will enjoy the milk, and you will be pleased to see them mature into a healthy person.

PS: Customized Strategy

Each individual has varying nutrition needs and eating habits. They might be meeting their micro & macronutrient needs via different sources – food, supplements or sunlight.  While milk offers many health benefits and nutrients, it should not be consumed or considered as a stand-alone source of nutrition. The nutrients provided via milk need to be supplemented with other sources to maintain a balanced diet. 

The views expressed are that of the expert alone.