Navigating The Milky Way

We all know that milk is good for your bones. Beyond this fun fact, however, the specifics are a little sketchy. What about the other pros (and cons, for that matter) that come with drinking milk? Does it matter what kind of milk we are drinking? Read on.

Cow’s Milk

Pro: According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “two cups of cow’s milk per day for young children (2-5) is sufficient to maintain adequate vitamin D levels and also maintain sufficient iron stores.”

  • Calcium: Builds healthy bones and teeth
  • Protein: Builds and repairs muscle tissue
  • Potassium: Helps maintain a healthy blood pressure
  • Phosphorus: Helps strengthen bones and restore energy
  • Vitamin D: Helps maintain heathy bone structure
  • Vitamin B12: Maintains the health of nerve cells
  • Vitamin A: Plays a vital role in bone growth, reproduction and immune system health
  • Riboflavin: Helps the body break down carbohydrates, proteins and fats to produce energy
  • Niacin: Metabolizes sugars and fatty acids

Children up to 12 years of age are recommended by the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans to drink whole milk in sufficient amounts for the health of their bones and teeth. Calcium and vitamin D really do do a body good.

Con: Many people lack the enzyme to digest lactose. This is called lactose intolerance, which causes symptoms such as bloating, gas and diarrhea. Others worry about the saturated fat content of whole milk. Low-fat or skim milk contains less of this saturated fat. Then there’s the concern that cow’s milk might potentially contain antibiotics and hormones. Do your research, and if you do go with cow’s milk, purchase organic if possible.

Soy Milk

Pro: Soy milk is absent of cholesterol, saturated and trans fats. The FDA suggests that consuming soy milk may lower your risk for heart disease by supporting healthy lipid levels.

Con: Some studies have indicated that a diet rich in soy lowers the sperm concentration in males.

Almond Milk

Pro: Almonds are rich in nutrients such as protein, fiber, vitamin E, magnesium, zinc, potassium, iron, phosphorus, tryptophan and calcium.

Con: Although almonds are rich in nutrients, almond milk does not offer as much protein and calcium as cow’s milk or some other milk substitutes. You can, however, find some brands with added calcium.

Rice Milk

Pro: Rice milk is the most hypoallergenic of all milk products. People who are lactose intolerant cannot drink dairy milk, whereas people who are allergic to soy or nuts cannot drink soy or almond milk. Rice milk may be the way to go.

Con: One cup of rice milk contains up to 33 grams of carbohydrates—three to four times the amount in dairy or soy milk. If you have diabetes, rice milk is not the most viable option.

Sources: thespruce.com, independent.co.uk, fda.gov, health.gov, aap.org

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