As kids, especially growing up in town, I only ever had milk in tea, millet meal porridge, or the occasional (read- rare) custard desert. I was constantly badgering my mum for a sip of milk when she was cooking and had a tonne of fun when I could indulge my dairy cravings at will when I had my tonsils taken out when I was 10. The cold milk on a sore throat while living in the heart of Mombasa heat was mind numbingly refreshing. It worked to cement my love affair with milk for a lifetime.
At some point as the new millennium turned and food crazes swept through the world aided by viral emails, fresh milk as well as a bunch of other dairy products we don’t indulge in as much in this corner of the world, became demonized, unhealthy. Urban yuppies embraced this trend rapidly and suddenly people had cut dairy from their diets. The thought of developing heart disease or insulin-dependent diabetes and a few people being diagnosed as lactose intolerant, was the fuel added to the raging fire that was health consciousness. At home, our history of bronchitis and the link to dairy consumption and an increased rate of mucus production, meant we cut what little milk we were taking in tea to zero. I was not happy.
What a pleasant surprise it was to finally learn of the benefits of dairy consumption when, in med school, we studied milk at length. Finally, I could stop feeling guilty about my daily glass of milk. Yeah mum, milk isn’t killing me! Milk consumption is essential to maintaining good health.
Milk is one of the best sources of calcium for the body. Milk is filled with Vitamin D that helps the body absorb calcium. Proper calcium intake contributes to strong and healthy bones. Drinking milk provides other benefits such as healthy teeth, re-hydration and improves vitamin intake.
Think Fresh – Milk for Children
First, it’s extremely important for children to take milk because of their extremely high calcium and Vitamin D needs. Their bones are constantly growing and require a constant supply of calcium to avoid stunted growth due to malnutrition. Calcium is also supremely important to the working of muscles in the body and will be harvested from the bones and teeth in case of inadequate supply.
Young kids who don’t meet the required daily recommendation of calcium, approximately 1300 milligrams, are at risk of developing rickets which is a bone softening disease that leads to severe bowing of the legs. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends the following:
- 1 to 3 years old — 700 milligrams of calcium daily
- 4 to 8 years old — 1,000 milligrams of calcium daily
- 9 to 18 years old — 1,300 milligrams of calcium daily.
In addition, kids 1-18 need at least 600 IU of Vitamin D daily. These requirements are superbly met by a glass of milk at breakfast, or in a bowl of cereal or a box of flavored milk at break time with a snack, preferably a fruit.
Teens, especially girls, whose diets don’t provide the nutrients to build bones to their maximum potential are at greater risk of developing the bone disease osteoporosis, which increases the risk of fractures from weakened bones. Bone calcium begins to decrease in young adulthood and significant bone loss occurs as we age, particularly in women. This might manifest in later years as osteoporosis, and daily as feelings of fatigue and joint pain. So mums, as you pour that glass of milk for your kids, don’t forget to take care of your health too. Avoid a future of broken hips and weakened limbs by supplementing your diet with dairy for your daily vitamins and mineral needs.
Play Fresh – Athletes
To keep their bodies performing optimally, endurance athletes must carefully monitor their eating habits to make sure they maintain the necessary balance of electrolytes. For female athletes, calcium intake is of particular concern. Excessive training—more than seven hours per week—may cause hormonal declines in young girls that can stop menstruation. This hormonal decline also compromises bone formation, possibly leading to premature, irreversible osteoporosis. Recent research shows that male endurance athletes of all ages experience testosterone deficits that also can cause osteoporosis.
Drinking a cup of milk provides about 300mg of calcium, adults need about 1000-1500 mg a day to remain healthy. On Monday morning, after a weekend out partying, take a glass of milk instead of coffee for an energy boost and that wide awake feeling as you tweak your body to meet your high energy needs for a day at the office without the lethargy that accompanies a caffeine down. It’s an amazing way to re-hydrate and replace electrolytes lost after a stressful day working and will ensure you feel great after a night’s rest.
Personally, one of my favorite mid day snacks is bananas mashed in milk then frozen. Yes, I know it sounds disgusting but it’s ridiculously delicious. This plus it’s extremely healthy and will have you feeling like a milli in 10 seconds flat. I didn’t know it when I started my journey to addiction with this combo, but the instant injection of protein, calcium, lactose, a bunch of essential minerals and potassium from the banana is simply winning!
“drink your milk so you’ll grow big and strong!”
This is the first in a 2 part series of sponsored articles for the Daima Milk digital campaign. You can follow the conversations and share your thoughts by using #DaimaFresh