December 18, 2012
Study Says Kids Should Drink Two Cups Of Milk Per Day
Connie K. Ho for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
“Milk does the body good.” That´s the iconic slogan etched on campaign fliers and ads promoting the health benefits of milk. A recent study from researchers at St. Michael´s Hospital in Toronto investigated how much milk children should drink and found that the optimum amount is two cups per day.
In particular, the scientists studied how cow´s milk can impact iron and vitamin D levels in the body for over 1,300 children between the ages of two and five.
"We started to research the question because professional recommendations around milk intake were unclear and doctors and parents were seeking answers," explained the study´s lead author Dr. Jonathon Maguire, who works as a pediatrician at St. Michael's Hospital, in a statement.
The findings of the study were recently published in the online edition of the journal Pediatrics and highlighted how children who consumed more cows milk had higher stores of Vitamin D but lower stores of iron.
"We saw that two cups of cow's milk per day was enough to maintain adequate vitamin D levels for most children, while also maintaining iron stores. With additional cow's milk, there was a further reduction in iron stores without greater benefit from vitamin D," noted Maguire in the statement.
The project´s results also showed that children who had darker skin pigmentation could possibly not have the necessary amount of Vitamin D stores during the winter. Based on these findings, Maguire proposed that vitamin D stores could be increased with vitamin D supplements. With this method, children could preserve iron levels while upping their vitamin D stores.
"Vitamin D deficiency in children has been linked to bone health issues and iron deficiency has been linked to anemia and delays in cognitive development," continued Maguire in the statement. "Being able to answer parent's questions about healthy cow's milk intake is important to avoiding these potentially serious complications of low vitamin D and iron stores."
For the experiment, the scientists looked at participants during routine visits to the doctor´s office; the parents of the children were asked to complete a questionnaire on the children´s milk drinking habits and other areas that could have influenced the change of iron and vitamin D stores. In addition, a blood sample was taken from each youngster to measure their iron and vitamin D levels.
The study was part of the TARGet KIDS! program, a collaborative effort by St. Michael´s Hospital and The Hospital for Sick Children that aims to track the health of children from birth in order to better understand nutritional problems and how to go about preventing these issues later on in life.
This study is particularly important, as vitamin D deficiency is an issue that can cause a variety of health problems during and after childhood. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), vitamin D deficiency is associated with bone pain or tenderness, dental deformities, impaired growth, muscle cramps and increased bone fractures. Individuals who believe that they or their children may suffer from a vitamin D deficiency should consult a doctor to find out more.