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Does my Child Really Need Milk - Some Key Questions Answered

Posted on Apr 06, 2009 by Maggie LaBarbera

1.  Does my child need milk?

Milk or milk products are so important for children because they contain nine essential nutrients and vitamins as well as protein.  Milk has:

  • vitamin A
  • vitamin D
  • vitamin B12
  • calcium
  • potassium
  • phosphorus
  • riboflavin
  • niacin
  • zinc
  • magnesium
Some studies have shown that children who drink milk have better nutrient intake compared to kids who don't drink milk.  With all the vitamins and minerals in milk, it makes sense.

But surprisingly, only a 1/3 -1/2 of American children drink the recommended amount of milk.

2.  But what about the fat in milk?

Yes, whole milk has a lot of fat, 3.5 - 4%!  The American Academy of Pediatrics has long recommended that children over 2 years, drink low fat or skim milk.

The reason that toddlers/babies need the whole milk, is because the brain is developing at an extremely rapid rate in the first two years.  In fact, 80% of the brain develops in the first two years and the brain needs fat to develop properly.

However, if you have a one year old that is overweight, it may be advisable to offer 2% milk.  But this is something you should really talk with your pediatrician about.

3.  What about kids that are lactose intolerant?

It is estimated that about 20% of US children have some level of lactose intolerance.  The AAP still says that many kids have a milk intolerance and can usually tolerate some milk.  Yogurt has less lactose than milk.  But you can get milk without lactose,  look for the "Lactose Free" label.

Bottom line: kids need the calcium, vitamin D and other nutrients found in milk for their teeth and bones.  When they are children, you won't see the effect of low nutrients.  But when the children grow up, that is when they may experience problems with their teeth and bones.



1 Comment

Tuesday, Apr 07, 2009 @ 06:13 AM

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Thanks for a great article on kids, dairy and bone health! For more info on how kids can get the essential nutrients to build strong bones, check out

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