The importance of milk in our health: benefits and nutritional properties

Milk has been part of our diet for millennia. Source of calcium, fats, vitamins, proteins of good quality and minerals, has always become the food par excellence; in the food base in the food of many peoples and civilizations.

It is, as we will see, one of the most important sources of calcium, so specialists recommend drinking milk daily from birth, to help form and maintain bone mass in our children.

The percentage of milk fat varies depending on the season of the year in which it is obtained, since it has 2.9% in summer and 4.9% in winter.

Although if you have enough fat there are processes that help reduce it and use it to make other products. While there are different types of milk depending on their treatment (an issue that will be echoed in the not too distant future), the most common is whole milk, as it is usually sold in stores and hypermarkets.

Nutritional benefits of milk

High content of proteins of high biological value

When we talk about a certain food - or drink - providing high biological value (or good quality) proteins, it means that it contains all the essential amino acids, which are those that our organism is not capable of producing or synthesizing by itself, and it is necessary to provide them through food.

In the particular case of milk, it is a food that provides precisely all the essential amino acids. Among them stands out the presence of leucine, which promotes the healing of skin, bones and muscle tissue, lysine, useful for the production of antibodies and for the formation of collagen, and isoleucine, essential to stabilize and regulate glucose levels and energy, and the formation of hemoglobin.

High calcium content

Milk is considered as the main dietary source of calcium, thanks mainly to the presence of other components naturally present in it (such as proteins, lactose or phosphorus), which offer the possibility of having a high bioavailability; and for its high content of this mineral.

Provides bioactive peptides

The bioactive peptides found in milk seem to play an important role in metabolic regulation and modulation, may have, on our body, some beneficial activity against high blood pressure (antihypertensive), against high cholesterol (hypocholesterolemiante), besides being antioxidant, antimicrobial and immunomodulatory.

That is, the bioactive peptides contained in milk provide interesting properties with benefits on our immune, digestive and cardiovascular systems.

Interesting contribution of vitamins

In addition to vitamin D, it becomes a good source of vitamin A and B vitamins, highlighting the presence of vitamin B12 and rivoflavin. The vitamins of the B complex are fundamental for our nervous system, participating in the synthesis of hormones and in obtaining energy.

While, vitamin A, is essential for our immune system, for growth and development, as well as for eye health.

Its importance in children and adolescents

As long as the child is not taking breast milk (the World Health Organization advises exclusive breastfeeding for at least the first 6 months of life, and if possible, during the first 2 years or more), milk is a food basic for children and adolescents.

The Nutrition Committee of the Spanish Association of Pediatrics published in 2016, and with the Spanish Nutrition Foundation (FEN) and the Ibero-American Nutrition Foundation (FINUT) a decalogue on theImportance of milk in the infant stage, collecting a total of 10 points on why milk is considered a staple in infant feeding:

  1. Basic food within a balanced and varied diet.
  2. It contains proteins of high biological value, which contribute to an adequate growth and development.
  3. Main dietary source of calcium for strong bones.
  4. It allows to reach an adequate intake of certain vitamins and minerals.
  5. Provides fatty acids.
  6. There is a certain relationship between milk consumption and physical stature in children and adolescents.
  7. Its nutritional value can not be replaced by vegetable drinks.
  8. There are many false myths about milk.
  9. An adequate diet allows to correct the intake of deficient nutrients.
  10. Milks of growth become a useful complementary alternative in the diet to reach the recommended intakes of essential nutrients in childhood.

Recent and complete scientific studies, such as the case ofDrinking flavored or plain milk is positively associated with nutrient intake and is not associated with adverse effects on weight status in US children and adolescents, highlight the importance - and the need - of the introduction of milk in the diet of children and adolescents, since in case of not doing it, they would suffer a lack of contributions of vitamins and minerals.

In addition, among other important benefits in infant feeding, thanks to its high content of calcium and vitamin D, milk prevents rickets, in addition to arthritis, osteoporosis and other problems directly related to the demineralization of bones.

In the case of calcium, for example, it has been shown that adequate intake is essential for the proper development and growth of bones during childhood. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) itself recommends a consumption of between 2 to 4 servings of dairy products per day.

How many glasses of milk should we drink per day (and how many servings of milk)

As we mentioned in the previous section, the World Health Organization recommends a consumption of between 2 and 4 servings of dairy products per day. However, depending on the age and physiological status of each person, their consumption should be higher or lower.

For example, the recommended daily amount of milk for children or adolescents is not the same as during pregnancy and lactation, or in people over 60 years of age. In all these stages, in fact, the nutritional needs for calcium are obviously much higher.

It is possible to establish the following recommended amounts:

  • From 0 to 6 years old (Early Childhood): 2 servings of dairy per day.
  • Schoolchildren (from 6 to 11 years old):from 2 to 3 servings.
  • Adolescents (from 11 to 14 years old):from 3 to 4 servings.
  • Pregnancy:from 3 to 4 servings.

During any other stage it is sufficient to consume 2 to 3 dairy products per day. Obviously, not only milk, but other dairy products such as cheese, yogurt, butter ...

Properties of milk, in summary

  • It contains both water soluble and liposoluble vitamins, among which we find vitamins of group B, C, A, niacin and riboflavin.
  • It also contains calcium, iron and proteins.
  • According to studies, drinking milk daily reduces the risk of breast cancer by 60%, especially in women.
  • It is recommended in cases of gastritis, since it is able to neutralize the acidity. In this case it is better to take it skim.

Images of Istockphoto. This article is published for informational purposes only. You can not and should not replace the consultation with a Nutritionist. We advise you to consult your trusted Nutritionist. ThemesMilk Food

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