Roy Benaroch updates us on the confusing world of commercial milk products on his outstanding blog, The Pediatric Insider:

Milk sure has gotten complicated. You’ve got, of course, milk—the white stuff that comes out of cows—in different varieties of fat content, and lactose-free versions, too. And soy milk, and rice milk, and almond milk, and hemp milk. And organic milk. Fortified with omega-3 acids, like DHA and ARA! And don’t forget goat milk, which has natural goaty goodness. How can you decide?

 

Defining what milk actually is, is a great starting point:

Let me suggest a definition to start with: milk is a beverage that’s high in protein, and has other nutritional stuff in there too. It’s a great food for mammal babies like our own. For about the last 8,000 years humans have domesticated animals to continue to drink milk and eat dairy products well past infancy.

 

Jennifer Yoon, RDN/LDN (AHN Pediatrics — St. Clair) covered the nutritional values of milk and milk alternatives on The PediaBlog in 2017, serving up these considerations regarding milk substitutes:

> All milk substitutes must be fortified with calcium and vitamin D, with the exception of almond milk which is naturally high in calcium.

> Fortified products have a lower bioavailability than naturally occurring minerals.

> All plant proteins contain incomplete chains of amino acids, which is why a variety of grains are needed in a vegan diet.

> Hemp has the most beneficial mix of amino acids, and contains alpha linolenic acid, but the taste is dirty and grainy, and so it’s least acceptable.

> Soy milk is the most nutritionally adequate substitute. Animal studies, blood level data, and some uncontrolled population-based studies suggest phytoestrogens contained in soy may effect sexual development of females and males including pubertal timing, ovarian function, and endocrine dysfunction. Soy formulas have been widely used for many years resulting in circulating phytoestrogen levels thousands of times higher than normal, yet detrimental effects have not been evident in humans. There are few studies investigating estrogenic effects on male development and they are inconclusive.

 

Read more about the different varieties of animal-derived milks and plant-based “milks” from The Pediatric Insider here. 

 

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