Guest Post By DeDe Hausmann of Winners Drink Milk
I'm so glad there are research scientists in the field of dairy nutrition that have produced studies that back up the need for dairy in one's diet, including for little ones. Before joining the Indiana dairy industry, I was a Family & Consumer Science teacher and for my nutrition classes I found scientific proven studies to tout the benefit of dairy (and the other four food groups) in everyone's diets.
It's all about bioavailability! The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) said in Building Strong Bones: Calcium Information for Health Care Providers in 2006 (for the Milk Matters Campaign), "Bioavailability, the degree to which the intestinal system absorbs calcium, depends on the overall level of calcium in a food and the type of food being consumed. Calcium in foods such as milk and milk products is highly bioavailable, meaning it is easily absorbed...However, calcium in foods high in Oxalic Acid (such as spinach, sweet potatoes, and beans) or phytic acid (such as unleavened bread, raw beans, seeds, and nuts) may be poorly absorbed. Oxalics are strong inhibitors of calcium." Connie Weaver, PhD, and a Distinguished Professor of Food & Nutrition at Purdue University, also backs up that conclusion with many calcium studies. Google her work and see what she has to say!
As for kids, I found info supplied via Parents Magazine. Cow's milk isn't easily digested well by babies under 1 year and from 1- 2 years of age, Frank Greer, M.D., past chairman of the American Academy of Pediatric's Committee on Nutrition, stated that whole milk is a necessity. Little ones need the fat in whole milk for nerve and brain development. But if a child is gaining weight too quickly for his height, pediatricians normally suggest switching to 1 or 2% fat level milk. At age 2, kids can drink 1% or 2% milk and will get the full nutrient package of whole milk, with less fat.
Serving-wise, kids from ages 1-4 need 2-8 oz servings of milk or yogurt or 1.5 oz. of cheese (6 dice-sized cubes) daily; kids between 4 and 8 need 2-3 servings daily of dairy. If they don't like white milk, go for flavored milk. The minimal sugar added is off-set by the 9 essential nutrients supplied.
Milk and dairy products are the number one source of calcium and many are fortified with Vitamin D, necessary for the absorption of calcium in the body. Plus, dairy products contain other essential nutrients as in protein, phosphorus, vitamins A and some B vitamins- again, 9 essential nutrients in all!
So do kids need dairy in their diets? Yes they do and there's much researched-based information to back that up. Got milk for kids? YES!