Health Guidelines: Experts Say Kids Under Five Must Avoid Drinking Plant-Based Milk

Plant-based milk made from oats, coconut, rice, or other blends (except for fortified soy milk) lacks in essential nutrition, say experts.

Edited by Shubham Bhatnagar (with inputs from ANI)  |  Updated: September 24, 2019 11:26 IST

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Health Guidelines: Experts Say Kids Under Five Must Avoid Drinking Plant-Based Milk

Plant-based milk lacks in essential nutrition.

One of the most common advices by many doctors and all mothers is to have a glass of milk daily.   Milk has long been labelled as a complete health drink. For many, it is one of the most popular sources of calcium and other essential nutrients. While this healthy drink is given all the due credit as a healthy and nutritious beverage for kids, those under the age of five are advised to steer clear of plant-based milk. Surprisingly, plant-based milk made from oats, coconut, rice, or other blends (except for fortified soy milk) lacks in essential nutrition, which is imperative for early development of kids, as per the Healthy Eating Research guidelines. The guidelines released on Wednesday came from a panel of experts with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association.

The health guidelines further state that kids less than five years of age should also avoid drinking diet drinks, flavoured milk and sugary beverages as well as limit the consumption of juice (packaged). "More and more parents are turning to plant-based milk for a variety of reasons and there's a misconception that they are equal somehow to cow or dairy milk, but that's just not the case," CNN quoted Megan Lott, who helped develop the recommendations as the deputy director of the Healthy Eating Research, as saying. She further added that most plant-based milk is not enough to fill the daily key nutrition, like vitamin D and calcium.

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Kids less than five years of age should also avoid drinking plant-based milk.

"The guidelines do make an exception if a child has a dairy or cow milk allergy or is lactose intolerant or has religious rules or lives in a house that keeps a vegan diet, in that case, the parents should definitely consult with their pediatrician or dietitian," Lott said. 

These guidelines also state that kids must not drink low and zero-calorie drinks too. "We are finding more and more of these artificial sweeteners showing up in food marketed to young children and there is no research on these substitutes that show they cause harm, but there's really no research showing that they are safe," said Lott.

Artificial sugar-sweetened or caffeinated drinks, including packaged juices should be kept off kids' drink menu. The guidelines state that kids under one year should avoid drinking juice at all, whereas, kids who are between one and three years may have not more than half a cup a day, and for kids who are between 4 and 5 may have not more than half a cup to 3/4 a cup in a day.

And talking about daily milk consumption, the guidelines recommend kids between the age of one and two years to drink at least two to three cups of whole milk every day; whereas, kids between the age of two and three should drink not more than two cups of skim or low-fat milk in a day. Kids between the 4 and 5 years must drink not more than two and a half cups of skim or low-fat milk in a day.

For water, it's a half-cup to a cup for 6- to 12-month-old children, one to four cups a day for ages 1 to 3, and one and a half to five cups a day for 4 and 5-year-olds. "When some parents walk into a grocery store they may be overwhelmed by the options, but in daily life, the key message is, what we recommend is doable, even if it does take some persistence and cooperation," Lott opined.

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(This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.)

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