Don’t miss out on milk’s ben­e­fits

You must know that milk is the pri­mary source of nutri­tion for in­fant mam­mals be­fore they are able to di­gest other types of food.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Health - By Prof Dr POH BEE KOON

MILK is an ex­cel­lent source of many es­sen­tial nu­tri­ents that are im­por­tant for your child’s proper growth and de­vel­op­ment, such as vi­ta­min D, cal­cium, and many oth­ers.

Un­for­tu­nately, sev­eral stud­ies in­di­cate that Malaysian chil­dren and ado­les­cents are not con­sum­ing ad­e­quate quan­ti­ties of milk and milk prod­ucts.

This trend of chil­dren drink­ing less milk as they grow older is made more trou­bling by the fact that it also cor­re­sponds with an in­creased in­take of less nu­tri­tious sug­ary bev­er­ages, such as soft drinks or fruit-flavoured drinks.

Th­ese poor di­etary habits con­trib­ute to the dou­ble bur­den of child­hood obe­sity and mal­nu­tri­tion.

Not get­ting enough

The South-East Asian Nutri­tion Sur­veys (SEANUTS) found that al­most half of Malaysian chil­dren be­tween six months and 12 years sur­veyed had vi­ta­min D in­suf­fi­ciency. Their di­etary in­take did not fol­low the Rec­om­mended Nu­tri­ent In­takes (RNI) for Malaysia 2005, with more than a third fail­ing to achieve the req­ui­site fig­ures for en­ergy, cal­cium and vi­ta­min D.

Both vi­ta­min D and cal­cium are crit­i­cal for a grow­ing child as they play a ma­jor role in bone health. Vi­ta­min D helps your child’s body ab­sorb cal­cium, which is im­por­tant for phys­i­cal growth and de­vel­op­ment. It also helps im­prove bone den­sity.

Foods that are rich sources of vi­ta­min D in­clude milk and milk prod­ucts, fatty fish (e.g. tuna, salmon), fish liver oil, egg yolk, or foods for­ti­fied with vi­ta­min D.

Foods rich in cal­cium in­clude milk and milk prod­ucts, veg­eta­bles (e.g. spinach, wa­ter­cress, mus­tard leaves, cekur ma­nis, tapi­oca leaves, kai-lan and broc­coli), fish with ed­i­ble bones (e.g. canned sar­dines and an­chovies), beans and bean prod­ucts, tofu, and tem­peh (fer­mented soy­beans).

The re­sults of a study on Malaysian chil­dren aged one to 10 years en­ti­tled “Milk Drink­ing Pat­terns among Malaysian Ur­ban Chil­dren of Dif­fer­ent House­hold In­come Sta­tus” show that on av­er­age, milk con­sump­tion is less than two serv­ings a day, where one serv­ing is equal to one glass (or 200ml).

The SEANUTS Malaysia re­sults showed only about half a serv­ing per day on av­er­age be­ing con­sumed among school-aged chil­dren. This is less than the rec­om­mended two to three serv­ings of milk or milk prod­ucts a day.

This prac­tice of not drink­ing suf­fi­cient milk from a young age may lead to the be­hav­iour be­com­ing an in­grained habit, which car­ries over into adult life.

There­fore, it is bet­ter to start pro­vid­ing milk as a healthy bev­er­age choice and to en­cour­age your child to con­sume the rec­om­mended amount of milk and milk prod­ucts all through­out child­hood.

Es­tab­lish­ing the habit of drink­ing milk early would help en­sure that your child will con­tinue to do so as an adult (who should still be tak­ing one to two serv­ings of milk or milk prod­ucts daily).

Do bear in mind that milk and milk prod­ucts are an ex­cel­lent source of nu­tri­ents even for adults.

‘Milk­ing’ the most out of a cup

With so much go­ing for it, milk is one of the most nu­tri­tious bev­er­ages your child can take.

Here are some sim­ple tips to help her meet her rec­om­mended daily serv­ing by mak­ing it more palat­able:

– Serve your child cold milk. You can ei­ther re­frig­er­ate the milk be­fore­hand or add a few ice cubes just be­fore serv­ing it.

Mix it with drinks – Use fresh, UHT or pow­dered milk in­stead of sweet­ened con­densed milk when mak­ing bev­er­ages, such as cof­fee or tea.

Chill it

– Make a milk­shake or smoothie that fea­tures milk as the main in­gre­di­ent. You can make many dif­fer­ent va­ri­eties just by

Shake it up

adding fruits, bis­cuits, peanut but­ter or choco­late to it. Get cre­ative and make your own house spe­cialty!

– Chil­dren who are lac­tose in­tol­er­ant can usu­ally tol­er­ate small amounts of milk (ap­prox­i­mately ½ cup, taken at in­ter­vals through­out the day).

Al­ter­na­tively, let your child have fer­mented milk prod­ucts, such as yo­ghurt or cheese.

Lac­tose in­tol­er­ant

– Look for recipes that fea­ture milk and in­cor­po­rate them into your reper­toire of meals for your fam­ily. It could range from bak­ing cook­ies, mak­ing pud­dings, or even adding it to mush­room or chicken soup in or­der to make it creamy. You can even add milk to scram­bled eggs for a de­li­cious dish.

Al­ter­na­tively, use milk as a re­place­ment for co­conut milk (san­tan).

Add it to your recipes

– Af­ter a long day at school or a tir­ing morn­ing or af­ter­noon of ac­tiv­i­ties (e.g. foot­ball, bad­minton, or swim­ming), an ice-cold cup of milk may be just the thing your child needs to help her re­cover.

Flavoured milk is also ac­cept­able pro­vided she does not drink it ex­ces­sively.

There is even sci­en­tific ev­i­dence that shows milk is bet­ter for restor­ing the body’s fluid bal­ance af­ter in­tense ex­er­cise.

Great ‘pick-me-up’

This ar­ti­cle is cour­tesy of Malaysian Pae­di­atric As­so­ci­a­tion’s Pos­i­tive Par­ent­ing pro­gramme in col­lab­o­ra­tion with ex­pert part­ners. This ar­ti­cle is sup­ported by an ed­u­ca­tional grant from MArigold UHT Milk. For fur­ther in­for­ma­tion, visit www. my­pos­i­tive­par­ent­ing.org.

Sur­veys have shown that on av­er­age, milk con­sump­tion is less than two serv­ings a day for chil­dren in Malaysia. — AFP

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