• Life Stages Series: Dairy’s Unmatched Nutrition Helps Children Thrive

    By Terri Rexroat September 29, 2017

    World School Milk Day 3.jpgNutrition plays an undeniably-important role in child development. A parent’s choice of what foods and beverages to keep in their home goes well beyond choosing healthy options. Their child’s age, stage of development, allergies and intolerances are important elements. In this first piece in a series on how dairy supports different life stages, we are outlining dairy’s role in supporting child development. What better time to explore the benefits of milk and milk-derived ingredients than during the celebrations around World School Milk Day, commonly celebrated the last Wednesday in September each year.

    Introducing whole cow’s milk at year one

    Milk is often introduced in a child’s life at a young age. Milk’s nutrient package is unmatched, and its vitamins and nutrients are essential to the health and development of infants and young children. Whole cow’s milk can be introduced once a child turns one. Whole milk provides the healthy fats needed for nerve and brain development in children. To address preconceived notions of saturated fats found in milk, health professionals are reconsidering the role of dairy fats.

    Recent studies suggest that consuming whole-fat milk helps avoid obesity and may not be directly associated to the chronic diseases children could develop in the future. To help parents structure a well-balanced diet, two to three servings of dairy each day are recommended in the U.S. and many other countries around the world.

    Addressing dairy allergies and intolerances

    Unless milk allergies are present, all toddlers and young children should be encouraged to consume milk and other dairy products. Most children with a cow’s milk allergy will develop a natural tolerance by age three, and if possible, the intake of essential amino acids should not be limited in any child’s diet in year two. This is because dairy proteins found in milk, such as whey proteins, have essential and non-essential amino acids. They even stand out among all foods as one of the best sources of branched-chain amino acids to stimulate muscle protein synthesis.

    High-quality dairy proteins help give toddlers the strength to walk, develop a healthy bone structure and the brain power to learn speech and language skills. When kids start school, parents often have less direct control over the diets of their children and their protein intake. So not only is it important to keep milk in U.S. schools, it also is important to help children around the world receive the same unmatched high-quality nutrition.

    Spreading the access of milk to all children

    For areas grappling with poverty, the Dairy for Global Nutrition website highlights research that links limiting dairy in the diets of young children with stunted growth, lower bone density and nutrnd dairy offers the nutrition, flexibility and flavor to be part of the solution in a variety of child-friendlyient deficiencies worldwide. These deficiencies are preventable a foods.

    This is a topic close to home for Christie Vilsack who recently spoke at the Dairy Nutrition: An Engine for Economic Growth event, May 10-11 in Boise, Idaho. She told stories of stunting, malnutrition and learning disabilities in children due to a lack of nutrition. Watch her video message on how the U.S. dairy community is collaborating to find ways to reduce hunger in school-aged children by enhancing education and adding more dairy proteins to easily accessible items.

    U.S. dairy products are available globally to help parents achieve the most nutritious diets to for their children. For food and beverage professionals looking to spread the wealth of dairy, ThinkUSAdairy.org has information on formulating and cooking with dairy ingredients.


    Dairy Ingredients Child Nutrition Global Whey Protein Milk Early Childhood Development Nutrition
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