My kid doesn’t really go for milk. Sure he will humor me from time to time with a few sips from a glass, but all in all, he shows very little interest. This would normally be fine, but since milk is the most accessible, as well as abundant, form of vitamin D and calcium, I am always trying to sell him on the virtues of milk consumption. While a lot of kids out there are habitual milk drinkers, there are critics of the practice who attest that milk drinking is not at all a natural thing for children. Some prefer goat’s milk, whereas others completely abstain or go for highly processed products like soymilk or almond milk. But to be sure, the debate about the virtues of milk just doesn’t go away.
Some of the criticism directed towards milk involves the way in which milk (which is naturally low in iron) actually acts to prevent the body’s ability to absorb iron from other foods, thus leaving certain milk drinkers sadly iron deficient. So finding the balance between a vitamin D and calcium-rich regimen of milk consumption and maintaining healthy iron levels has always been a tricky one.
Recently Canadian researchers, after tracking the milk drinking habits of 1300 “healthy urban preschoolers,” came upon the presumed sweet spot in milk to iron balance. And this perfect balance would be two glasses of milk per day (or 500 ml). With the consumption of two glasses per day, children were able to gather the desired levels of vitamin D and calcium, while showing negligible loss of iron. The report also showed that drinking more than two glasses to gather excess vitamin D (a vitamin that much of the population is deficient) is ill advised. You would be much better off having your kids stick with the two glasses and taking a vitamin D supplement to make up for lost vitamin D.
How do you maintain vitamin D, calcium and iron levels for your children? Do you opt for milk and dairy products or go straight to leafy greens and fortified products, like tofu?