Growing Kids Need Real Milk
There are so many foods to choose from in the grocery store that it can be hard to make the right decisions on what to buy and feed your children.
You may have heard that eliminating traditional cows’ milk is healthier and more sustainable for the planet. But the truth is that real cow’s milk is a healthy option for your growing children and the environment.
Young children, ages 2-8, are in a stage of rapid growth and need the proper fuel to ensure they are getting the nutrients they need. An 8-ounce (oz) glass of real cow’s milk provides nine essential nutrients, including calcium. Calcium is good for building strong bones and teeth, as well as other processes in the body.
Getting the Most from Milk
Calcium can be found in other foods, including dark leafy greens like kale and spinach, sardines, soy products and fortified items. However, your child would need to eat 10 cups of raw spinach to get the same amount of calcium as 1 cup of milk.
Also, the calcium in milk is easily absorbed and used by the body, more so than some other foods with calcium. Bioavailability is the amount of a nutrient that can be absorbed and used in the body.
Comparison of calcium content and bioavailability in various foods1:
|Food||Amount of Calcium (mg)||Amount of Calcium Absorbed (mg)||% Bioavailable|
|1 cup milk||310||99||32%|
|5 oz cheddar cheese||337||108||32%|
|1/2 cup kale||49||24||49%|
|1/2 cup pinto beans||42||11||27%|
|1 cup fortified soy beverage||319||77||24%|
What About Flavored Milk?
Another question you may have is whether milk and flavored milk contain too much sugar.
An 8-oz serving of regular milk contains 13 grams of a naturally occurring sugar called lactose. Flavored milk also contains added sugar in the form of sucrose. Flavored milk provides the same 9 essential nutrients as regular milk: calcium, phosphorus, vitamin A, riboflavin, B-12, protein, potassium, zinc, choline, magnesium, selenium and vitamin D.2
Research has shown that children who drink plain or flavored milk consume more nutrients while having comparable body weights to children who do not drink milk.3
Read more about chocolate milk here.
Good for the Planet
Today, producing a gallon of milk requires 65% less water, 90% less land, and 76% less manure than 70 years ago. U.S. dairy farms contribute just 2% of total global greenhouse gas emissions.
The milk you buy in Michigan is local. It takes just 48 hours for milk to travel from the farm to the grocer store.
Learn more about the sustainability of dairy farms here.
You can feel good about serving real cow’s milk to your growing children, knowing you are giving them a nutritious food they will like that is good for them and the environment.
- Calcium and Bioavailability. Dairy Nutrition. https://www.dairynutrition.ca/nutrients-in-milk-products/calcium/calcium-and-bioavailability. Accessed September 28, 2020.
- Nutrients and Health Benefits. USDA Chose MyPlate. https://www.choosemyplate.gov/eathealthy/dairy/dairy-nutrients-health. Accessed September 28, 2020.
- Murphy M, Douglas J, Johnson R, Spence L. Drinking Flavored or Plain Milk Is Positively Associated With Nutrient Intake and Is Not Associated with Adverse Effects on Weight Status in US Children and Adolescents. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2008 April; 108(4):631-639. https://jandonline.org/article/S0002-8223(08)00005-9/fulltext. Accessed on September 28, 2020.