For many years now we have been hearing about the importance and benefits of milk, which means that for many of you this information will likely come as no surprise. It’s no wonder infants live solely on milk for the first six months of their lives before complementary feeding kicks in.

Have you ever really asked yourself why milk is a nutritious beverage that’s widely consumed across all ages though? And why fortified milk in particular is most recommended? If you just shook your head left and right wondering what the answers are, then this is the article for you!

Proper nutrition is crucial for optimal growth and development. Children in particular have higher nutritional needs than adults and are often at risk of micronutrient deficiencies as they get introduced to different foods and many develop picky eating habits at a young age. 

While unfortified cow milk is rich in Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium and Protein, it is relatively low in certain micronutrients that are important for growth and development, such as Iron which is the most common micronutrient deficiency in the world.4 40% of school-aged children in the Middle East suffer from Iron deficiency anemia.5

Regionally relevant deficiencies like Iron, Iodine, Vitamins A and D. Vitamin D always top that chart across all ages and are going up to 75% among school-aged children specifically. This means that seven in ten kids in the Middle East are very likely to be vitamin D deficient!6

Iodine, another essential mineral that has a key role to play in supporting cognitive development, is also being identified as a global deficiency which affects more than 50% of school-aged kids in the region.7 Up to 27% of the region’s kids are also deficient 8 in Vitamin A, an immune system-supporting vitamin.  

Fortified milk can thus play a major role in closing these nutritional gaps in children’s diets, as it provides micronutrients that address regional deficiencies and cover the needs of school-aged kids. 

Fortification also offers children milk that suits their age-specific needs, as micronutrient content is tailored for school-aged kids to support three main health pillars:

Physical growth🡪 by providing high quality Proteins, Calcium and Vitamin D to support bone and muscle growth and development.

Immune system support🡪 by providing immune system-supporting vitamins and minerals such as Zinc, Vitamins A and C to help protect kids as they explore the world around them.

Cognitive Development🡪 by providing children with Iron which supports their brain and cognitive functions and a variety of B vitamins that help keep them active and focused throughout their learning years.

So now you know all about milk and the added nutritional value it brings to your child’s diet, especially when fortified. You know that it’s crucial to nourish children with not just love but also the right healthy food choices to ensure they grow and develop properly. Make sure to choose the right type of milk for their age and aim to provide them with the recommended two glasses a day.

1. Thorning, T. K. et al. Whole dairy matrix or single nutrients in assessment of health effects: Current evidence and knowledge gaps. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 105, 1033–1045 (2017).

2. Abargouei, A. S., Janghorbani, M., Salehi-Marzijarani, M. & Esmaillzadeh, A. Effect of dairy consumption on weight and body composition in adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled clinical trials. Int. J. Obes. 36, 1485–1493 (2012). 

3. Kratz, M., Baars, T. & Guyenet, S. The relationship between high-fat dairy consumption and obesity, cardiovascular, and metabolic disease. Eur. J. Nutr. 52, 1–24 (2013). 

4. Domellof, M, Braegger, C, Campoy, C et al. (2014) Iron requirements of infants and oddlers. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr 58, 119–129.

5. WHO, CDC. Worldwide prevalence of anaemia 1993-2005. WHO global database on anaemia. Geneva,World Health Organization, 2008

6. Hypovitaminosis D in the Middle East and North Africa. Dermatoendocrinol. 2013 Apr 1; 5(2): 274–298

7. WHO global database on iodine deficiency . (http://www.who.int/vmnis/iodine/data/en/index.html).2005

8. http://nutritionandhealthatlas.nestle.com/IAS/dataviews/report?reportId=6&viewId=52&geoReportId=222&geoId=1&geoSubsetId