The notion that ‘Drinking milk only does good things to your body’ has been around for ages. Millions of parents give their young ones a hard time in this regard, practically chasing them around with a glass of milk. Due to this general positive perception about milk, many children and teenagers are urged to drink milk more than once a day. The question remains, however… is milk really that good or is all of this just a parental hyperbole?
General Perceptions of Milk
Milk has been widely popular as one of ‘nature’s best foods’ for hundreds of years, and people around the world generally believe milk to be a healthy food. This perception is not only held in developed countries, but also in underdeveloped countries where the availability of milk is limited to a particular strata of society. From the time a child is born, it is fed milk, as this is the easiest food to digest by infants, and also contains a host of vital nutrients that are crucial for a baby’s growth in those early days.
Even after a baby is weaned off of breast milk, most parents continue providing milk to their children, as they think it is good for bone development and is an important component of an ideal diet for kids.
Milk: The Good Part
It’s true that milk does provide a host of important nutrients to those who choose to drink it. First of all, milk contains calcium, which is good for bone development in children, and is also vital for maintaining the strength and flexibility of bones in adults. Milk also contains Vitamin D, which is very important, albeit less commonly referred to than the calcium content. A deficiency of Vitamin D can lead to bent and weakened bones and cause rickets and other muscle-related disorders.
Milk is also a good source of calories and proteins that are essential for children, as their growing bodies demand more nutrition. Kids need to have a wholesome diet, but children commonly throw tantrums about consuming certain things that will provide them with all those vital nutrients. Fortunately, milk proves to be an easy to access and complete package of nutrients.
But do we really need to drink milk all the time?
Milk is definitely a good source of all the nutrients that we discussed above, but is it necessary to drink milk all the time to obtain those nutrients?
Calcium, one of the leading reasons why people drink milk, can be found in many other foods, including nuts, beans and greens. Lately, there have even been doubts about whether milk strengthens bones. A study observed that children living in countries with lower milk consumption have lower fracture rates than in countries that boast a sizable milk-drinking population of children. “The best way for kids to take good care of bones is to go outside and play,” says Amy Lanou, a professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina at Asheville.
Also, since Vitamin D is readily available in other foods, such as breakfast cereal, orange juice and soy milk, one does not have to be dependent on milk for fulfilling their quota of Vitamin D. The same thing goes for dietary protein; the amount of protein found in milk can also be gained from other food sources, like beans and eggs.
As the studies show, there are no disadvantages to not drinking milk regularly, but you still need those nutrients. Therefore, if you can replace milk with some or all of the foods mentioned above, you can basically say goodbye to milk!
- Calcium: What’s Best For Your Bones And Health? – Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
- Mail Online (Dailymail)
- Live Science