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.
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.
– 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.
– 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.
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