How does milk help you grow?
Children who consume dairy products, like milk, got taller than those who got less dairy. Basically, milk consumption between the ages of 6 months and 5 years is related to a reduced chance of being stunted by 1.9%. This relationship was stronger among kids living in developed countries, who had solid access to other nutrient-dense foods .
Another study pointed out that the positive connection between milk consumption and childhood development is at least due to the difference in nutrients it delivers. Yes, milk includes a wide range of key nutrients, including protein, calcium, zinc, potassium, and vitamin A, which are vital for growth during childhood. Also, some milk products are fortified with vitamin D .
Do you know that milk contains a protein, called insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), which our body naturally produces? IGF-1 in milk helps stimulate overall growth by dividing and duplicating bone and muscle tissues .
That said, milk is one of the most convenient and affordable options for many families to acquire many growth-increasing nutrients. And make sure to make it an essential part of a healthy diet for your growing kids and teens.
So, how about adults? Should they keep drinking milk after the age of 18?
If you have already stopped growing, no amount of milk intake may make you taller. That is because your growth plates close themselves while your bones harden at the same time, indicating the end of further growth. However, it does not mean that you should not stop drinking milk. Milk still delivers many helpful nutrients, especially protein and calcium, which we know are essential for bone health as well as muscle repair and growth.
When is the best time to drink milk?
Milk is considered to be sleep-inducing and best consumed at night according to Ayurvedic medicine. Drinking milk at night helps calm the nervous system, while the serotonin content in milk may make you get a good quality sleep. Also, the calcium absorption from milk works better at night due to minimal enzyme reactions. Ayurvedic medicine recommends everyone should consume milk except those who are allergic to it .
How about the morning? Does timing really matter?
In some cases, drinking milk at a particular time might help you acquire the most benefits.
For overall health
Savoring a refreshing glass of milk during your meals can significantly enhance your body's capacity to assimilate a myriad of health-enriching nutrients. As you partake in this nutritious ritual, you are granting your bones a potent dose of calcium, fortifying their growth and resilience. Simultaneously, the presence of potassium and magnesium in milk aids in maintaining optimal blood pressure levels, ensuring that your cardiovascular health remains in pristine condition.
What's more, it is worth noting that a substantial portion of dairy products available in the United States undergo fortification with the indispensable vitamin D. This vital nutrient plays a pivotal role in facilitating the efficient absorption of calcium within your body, further cementing the foundation of your overall health. So, embrace the timeless tradition of enjoying a glass of milk with your meals, and watch as your body thrives in its newfound vitality.
For muscle mass and weight loss
Milk is rich in protein, so it may enhance metabolism and increase fullness after meals, resulting in lower daily calorie intake and helping you lose weight. Besides, consuming fat-free milk 5 days per week after workouts may aid muscle mass and body composition, compared with those who do not drink milk .
How much milk should a kid drink?
The recommended amount of milk for children to drink daily is based on their age. Take a look at the table below!
Recommended daily milk intake
1 2/3 to 2 cups
2-3 years old
2 to 2 ½ cups
4-8 years old
2 ½ cups
Teen girls and boys
9-13 years old
14-18 years old
Milk should not be introduced until your kid is at least 12 months, and they should not drink more than 2 cups daily, or it might result in anemia and damaged iron absorption .
Which milk is best, cow’s milk or plant-based milk?
As previously discussed, cow's milk boasts an impressive array of essential nutrients that play a pivotal role in nurturing a child's burgeoning body. Notably, the fat content in cow's milk is instrumental in fostering brain growth and facilitating crucial neurological development. Consequently, it is no wonder that cow's milk stands as the preferred choice for children when it comes to meeting their nutritional needs.
But what about plant-based milk? Can it hold its own against dairy milk?
While it's advisable for children under the age of 5 to steer clear of plant-based milk options, there are circumstances where it can be a viable alternative. For instance, if a child is allergic to cow's milk or their family adheres to a vegetarian diet, opting for non-dairy milk is acceptable. In such cases, fortified soy milk emerges as the prime contender, as it closely mirrors the nutritional profile of cow's milk. Nevertheless, it's imperative to exercise due diligence by scrutinizing the nutritional facts labels of different brands. The ideal choice should feature additional vitamin D and calcium, all while avoiding any unnecessary sugar additives.
What are other dairy products?
Aside from milk, there is a huge range of dairy products to provide many nutrients the body needs to grow.
You easily find hundreds of cheeses, from firm to chewy, melty, and creamy, and combine them well with everything, like fruits, veggies, beans, whole grains, etc. Cheese is rich in calcium and phosphorus, which aid in building and strengthening strong teeth and bones.
Who does not love yogurt? Due to its versatility, you can eat it alone or combine it with fruits, nuts, or cereals. Yogurt delivers essential nutrients, including protein, calcium, zinc, vitamin B12, and so on. Also, it has probiotics that help maintain digestive health.
Butter is rich in calories and includes needed nutrients, like vitamins A, B12, D, E, and K. It is a great source of protein, which is helpful for supporting physical growth.
Is there anything else?
Part of the reason why it is necessary to add milk to your children’s diet to support their overall growth, you should pay attention to other factors that affect height growth.
That said, kids with poor nutrition may not be as tall as those with adequate nutrition. So, make sure every diet should include all the vitamins and minerals, especially protein and calcium needed for bone health and growth.
Getting regular exercise is necessary for proper physical growth since it helps strengthen muscle tissues and bones, maintain a healthy weight, and stimulate HGH production. Children and teens should get at least 30 minutes to 1 hour of exercise per day to make their bones stronger, denser, and healthier.
Getting enough sleep helps enhance growth and development in children and teens. When they sleep, their bodies will release the hormones they need to grow.
Poor posture from slumping and slouching might make you appear shorter than you are. And if you keep maintaining these poses over time, they can affect your actual height and cause pain in your neck and back. So, be mindful of how to stand, walk, sit, and sleep to have good posture.
In a word
Milk, often regarded as nature's elixir, boasts a wealth of nutritional treasures that can profoundly impact our well-being. Within its creamy embrace lie a symphony of essential elements, from the allure of calories to the embrace of protein, the fortitude of calcium, the radiance of vitamin D, the enigmatic IGF-1, and a treasure trove of bioactive nutrients. These elements, like harmonious notes in a grand symphony, have the potential to orchestrate a magnificent crescendo in growth and development, especially when it comes to the aspirations of our budding youth.
As devoted parents, it becomes our sacred duty to serve as guiding beacons, illuminating the path toward a wholesome and vibrant lifestyle for our children. By nurturing their bodies with the nourishment found in milk and instilling in them the values of a health-conscious existence, we set the stage for the realization of their loftiest ambitions, including the attainment of a towering stature that reaches for the stars.