For many years now, we have been hearing about the importance and benefits of milk, which means that for many of you this information will likely come as no surprise. It is no wonder that infants live solely on milk for the first six months of their lives before complementary feeding kicks in.
Have you ever really asked yourself why milk is a nutritious drink that is widely consumed across all ages though? And why fortified milk in particular is most recommended? If you just shook your head wondering what the answers are, then this is the article for you!
Proper nutrition is crucial for optimal growth and development. Children, in particular, have higher nutritional needs than adults, and are often at risk of micronutrient deficiencies as they are introduced to different foods and many develop picky eating habits at a young age.
While unfortified cow milk is rich in Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium and Protein, it is relatively low in certain micronutrients that are important for growth and development. This includes Iron, which is behind the most common micronutrient deficiency in the world. A total of 40% of school-aged children in the Middle East suffer from anaemia caused by Iron deficiency.
Regionally, there are several deficiencies that have been reported, such as Iron, Iodine, and Vitamins A and D. Vitamin D always tops that chart across all age groups, and rises to 75% among school-aged children in particular. This means that seven in ten children in the Middle East are very likely to be vitamin D deficient.
Iodine, another essential mineral that has a key role to play in supporting cognitive development, is also being identified as a global deficiency, affecting more than 50% of school-aged children in the region. Up to 27% of children across the region are also deficient in Vitamin A, an immune system-supporting vitamin.
As a result, fortified milk can play a major role in closing these nutritional gaps in children’s dietary needs, as it provides micronutrients that address regional deficiencies and cover the needs of school-aged kids.
Fortified milk also offers children with a drink that suits their age-specific needs, as micronutrient content is tailored for school-aged kids to support three main health pillars:
Physical growth: by providing high quality Proteins, Calcium and Vitamin D to support bone and muscle growth and development.
Immune system support: by providing immune system-supporting vitamins and minerals such as Zinc, Vitamins A and C to help protect children as they explore the world around them.
Cognitive Development: by providing children with Iron which supports their brain and cognitive functions, and a variety of B vitamins that help keep them active and focused throughout their learning years.
So now you know all about milk and the added nutritional value it brings to your child’s diet, especially when fortified. You know that it is crucial to nourish children with not just love, but also the right healthy food choices to ensure they grow and develop properly. Make sure to choose the right type of milk for their age, and aim to provide them with the recommended two glasses a day.