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Given the varieties of milk available today, choosing the right one for your child may be a daunting task. If you want to know whether cow's milk is better than the rest, read on...
What are your earliest memories of childhood? We're certain that being forced to drink milk is one of them! However much we may have detested it as children, as adults we're sure to realise that milk is a wholesome food. There's no denying the fact that milk, in its natural form, contains nutritional values essential for proper growth and development of children.
Babies under the age of one are given only breast milk or formula as it is easy on the stomach. Introduce cow's milk thereafter so that your child can benefit from its rich protein and mineral content. This article talks about the health benefits of cow's milk and the science behind why it's considered healthier than other dairy or plant-based milk.
Physical development is an important indicator of a child's overall health. It is a surprising scientific fact that children, who consume cow's milk, grow taller. A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that 2 to 6-year-olds who drank cow's milk were taller than those who consumed plant-based or other types of animal-milk beverages. A 3-year-old child who drank 3 cups of cow's milk a day was 1.5 cm taller than a child of the same age who drank other types of milk.
In another study, milk intake was found to contribute to adolescent height in girls. Stuart Patton, in his book, 'Milk: Its Remarkable Contribution to Human Health and Well-Being,' (2004) says that although the milk of cows and humans has the same amount of calories, cow's milk has about three times as much protein, four times as much calcium, and overall more minerals (except iron) than human milk.
Other possible scientific reasons could be that the insulin-like growth factor-I, which is present in much higher concentrations in cow's milk, is important for bone mineral density. The whey protein from cow's milk has been reported to promote bone formation. Let's look at the other benefits.
Milk contains lactose, a carbohydrate that is helps absorption of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus by the intestine, and the utilisation of vitamin D. Carbohydrates also fuel energy production and contribute to healthy growth and development. The protein present in cow's milk is of high quality, containing a good balance of all the essential amino acids. These proteins promote muscle growth and development in children.
Calcium and phosphorus are the key nutrients involved in the formation and strengthening of bones. A 200 mL glass of cow's milk provides about 30-40 per cent of your child's calcium requirement per day. Milk is also a main source of phosphorus, which plays a vital role in the maintenance of healthy bones and teeth.
Note: Give your child only pasteurised or boiled milk to ensure it is free of pathogens.
Click the article below to know more on the benefits of milk.
Have you wondered whether milk obtained from non-dairy sources is as healthy as cow's milk? We bring you a comparison.
Soy milk: The nutrient profile of soy milk is similar to that of cow's milk. However, children may dislike its taste and flavour differences. Moreover, flavored soy milk contains more calories, preservatives and sugar.
Almond milk: It is loaded with magnesium and vitamin E but has less fat and protein content when compared to cow's milk.
Rice milk: It is rich in vitamin B12 and has less or no saturated fats, and absolutely no protein content, which is important for a growing child.
Coconut milk: It is creamy and flavourful but cannot be compared with cow's milk in protein, calcium and phosphorous content.
Is your child lactose intolerant? Click the article below to find out how you can help her.
Now that you've seen how good cow's milk is for your child, let's look at the flip side too. Some children are allergic to milk proteins or intolerant to milk sugar (lactose). If your child does not tolerate milk, replace it with an equal volume of curd/yogurt/soymilk/almond milk.
So, if you want your child to grow up into a well-built and healthy adult, make sure he gets his glass of cow's milk every day.
About the expert:
Written by Shiny Lizia M on 10 August 2017.
Shiny Lizia M is a nutritionist based in Chennai.