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Two Glasses of Milk Per Day, Like it or Not

Two Glasses of Milk Per Day, Like it or Not

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?

Read more: Blogs, Caregiving, Children, Diet & Nutrition, Drinks, Eating for Health, Family, Food, Health, Osteoporosis, Parenting at the Crossroads, , , ,

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

111 comments

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10:01AM PDT on May 9, 2013

My daughter loves milk and drinks it like a calf. Always has.

I don't care to drink milk, but love unsweetened Greek yogurt, lots of different cheeses, and dark leafy greens.

I have never found a non-dairy milk that was a suitable substitute for real milk - soy gives me gas that makes my farts qualify as a chemical weapon in violation of the Geneva Convention, and I don't like the texture or flavor of rice or almond milk. I like the taste of coconut milk ok in coffee, but not for cornbread or biscuits, and not on cereal.

8:25AM PDT on Apr 25, 2013

there is a lot of conflicting data about milk and its drawbacks and benefits. In moderation, it is FINE. My great grandmother milked cows and drank milk her entire life (as did everyone in those times) and she lived a very healthy life up until the ripe age of 90. She didn't even pass from bad health! I am lactose intolerant but am an avid lover of milk, my son, however, is happier with one glass or so a day. We are both just fine. Have a balanced diet, be careful to know what is in the milk you buy, and what is being added to it (and the cows!) Be a conscious consumer, and if you cut dairy out just be sure to get the nutrients from other sources! No point in everyone being so emotional about this. if you disagree with milk consumption, don't drink it. If you love milk and the benefits it can have, drink it. Read up and stay informed, but everyone just CHILL OUT. Good article by the way, thanks

12:47AM PST on Jan 27, 2013

Thanks for sharing

5:46AM PST on Jan 25, 2013

ARE YOU INSANE?! Milk (nor any other dairy) does *NOT* naturally come with Vitamin D!!!! It is added to it. It did not start until the 1930s! And ONLY in the U.S.

Vitamin D is a nutrient we get from sunshine, not milk!

I would rather get my supplements, if needed, straight from a source I choose not some dairy business looking for the cheapest available to satisfy some USDA/FDA idea.

Eat leafy greens of all kinds for calcium, that also happen to come with vitamin K and magnesium which we also need for strong bones and good alkaline blood rather than the wash which comes from the calcium of kidney damaging protein in milk.

Watch, "Got - The Facts On - Milk" if you want to know how silly it is to force milk on us. We don't need milk replacements either. The idea we "need" milk is all a corporate idea just as the idea Diamonds are a sign of love and the French Breakfast.

5:32AM PST on Jan 25, 2013

Why are humans the only species required to have dairy after infancy? It doesnt make sense.

6:38PM PST on Jan 20, 2013

I wish I had time to make my own almond milk

4:58PM PST on Jan 18, 2013

Try making your own almond milk. It's really pretty simple and very nutritious!!!

5:33PM PST on Jan 14, 2013

Cheese, yoghurt, alt. milk products...and esp. GREENS!

12:38PM PST on Jan 14, 2013

Thank you.

6:51PM PST on Jan 3, 2013

idk i find it odd we are the only thing on the planet that on a daily basis drinks milk after infancy lol but ill give it a try

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