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Milk Is Best!

It's not just kids who need milk for good health, strong bones and teeth. Milk is for everyone. In recent years, milk has been the subject of zealous debate. Prodairy supporters proclaim it a wonder food, while milk critics are quick to refute. There is, however, little reason to sour on milk. Instead, many health organisations and experts point out the bountiful benefits this inexpensive and easily available food offers. Milk is often referred to as nature's all-in-one health drink because it is so packed with nutrients.

The Marvels Of Milk

To begin with, it is an excellent sources of protein, which is needed to form muscles. Milk also contains a host of essential nutrients: vitamins D, A, and B12; potassium, magnesium, phosphorus and riboflavin. These are vital for healthy bodily functions and development. Perhaps the most widely acknowledged and prized value of milk is the calcium it offers. This mineral is absolutely vital to the body. It is required for the proper functioning of the heart, muscles and nerves, and in maintaining blood flow.

Calcium is also critical for the growth and repair of bones throughout life. About 990 of the calcium in our bodies is found in our bones. A shortage of calcium may lead to osteoporosis, a condition in which the bones become thin and fragile. The effects usually show up in late adulthood. By then, the bones can get so brittle that they break even when mildly stressed, such as bending over or rolling over in bed. 

Solving The Calcium Crunch

Insufficient calcium intake can put anybody at risk for osteoporosis. This bone disorder is a growing problem worldwide/ Milk has much to offer in reducing the risk of osteoporosis. A powerful source of calcium, drinking just one 8 oz glass of milk provides about 30% of an average adult's daily calcium requirements.

Milk is thus chosen by United States-based National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) as the best source of calcium. The NICHD further points out that calcium from milk can be easily absorbed by the body. The natural presence of Vitamin D in milk also helps the body absorb calcium better, it adds.

Health scientists emphasise the need to start getting enough calcium right from infanthood through to adulthood to reduce osteoporosis risks. As Dr Duane Alexander, director of NICHD, puts it: "Osteoporosis is a paediatric disease with geriatric consequences." Experts explains that childhood and the teenage years are critical years for building up the "bone bank".

This is because most bone mass accumulates during these periods. By the time adolescents finish their growth spurt around the age of 17, approximately 90% of their adult bone mass will have been formed. Bones then continue to grow denser until around age 30, when peak bone mass is reached. Thereafter, bone mass and density may remain steady, or bone loss may begin to occur.

The more calcium that is in the bones when loss begins, the longer it will take before the bones become fragile. Adults should continue to take calcium so as to help maintain their bone bank. Thus, everyone - not only childbearing women and young children would have to watch their calcium intake.

How Much To Take

Viewed in terms of calcium requirement, the recommended daily intake for the average adult is 800 mg. In simpler terms, the International Dairy Foods Association says three 8 oz glasses of milk (one glass is equivalent to 300 mg of calcium) would adequately meet your daily calcium needs. Gynaecologists and obstetricians tend to advise pregnant and nursing women to increase their calcium intake. This is because the developing baby needs calcium to grow strong bones and teeth, and develop healthily. The baby will leach calcium from the mother's bones if there isn't enough in the diet. This, in turn, may impair the mother's own health later on.

So, Milk Everyone?

The NICHD recommends consuming low-fat (e.g. Marigold) or fat-free milk (skimmed milk) which have much of the fat removed while retaining all the nutritional content of whole milk. However, milk consumers have no lack of choices. From rich, creamy whole milk to flavored milk, there is ample variety for different tastebuds and dietary needs. Even those who are lactose-intolerant need not forgo reaping the goodness of milk.

Milk that has been treated to cater to their condition is easily available. Alternatively, nutritionists advise lactose-intolerant persons to adopt certain strategies when taking milk. These include drinking it in smaller servings or with other food, which can diminish lactose-intolerant symptoms. Milk products like cheese or yoghurt can also be easier to stomach. Consult your nutritionist who will be able to guide you on how you can include milk in your diet.

For infants, child experts unanimously agree that the foremost milk choice should be breast milk. Should you have to choose formula milk or are deciding which milk to give your young children, it is best to discuss with your paediatrician. He can factor in how well your child is eating and growing, as well as your child's preferences. As with pregnant women, it is important to serve children only pasteurised milk which has had harmful germs destroyed. jole and threaten? Try this three-pronged approach:

Alter The Taste

If the taste of white milk doesn't appeal, try flavoured milk such as chocolate or strawberry milk. Or use milk to make your coffee, Milo or Horlicks. To give it a refreshing taste, blend milk with fruits to make a smoothie or a milkshake. What do you do if you are lactose-intolerant? Ever experienced the unpleasant symptoms associated with lactose intolerance such as bloating, flatulence, nausea, etc, after a meal or a snack? Try Dairy Care, a patented natural digestive supplement that helps your body produce the lactase enzyme, which might be missing if you are lactose-intolerant.

Choose Milk Variants

Cheese is a more popular and highly palatable form of milk. It can be eaten on its own or used in cooking such as sprinkling grated cheese into spaghetti. Yoghurt and ice cream are other all-time favorite foods derived from milk. Limit ice cream though, as it is high in fat and sugar.

Disguise It

You can get really sneaky with milk and no one would even notice it's there. Mother of three, G Lee says she uses milk instead of water to cook Campbell soup. Her eldest son, who detests drinking milk, loves the thick texture of the milk-laden soup and downs it without fuss. You can also use milk to make sauces, pancakes, puddings or muffins. There is really little to stop you from receiving and enjoying this health drink Mother Nature has to offer. So, will you be making yours milk?


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