Is Dairy Necessary In Children?
India is the largest producer of milk in the world. And, India has always been a dairy loving nation with its various derivatives being used in our regular diets. The love for dairy goes back to our Hindu mythology wherein apart from the other examples, Lord Krishna – the makkhan-chor was also fond of the makkhan or butter made from milk. However, today more and more Indians are exploring veganism as a way of life wherein apart from animal foods like meat, fish, etc,dairy foods are alsoomitted from their diets. Now, if the children also follow that pattern of eating, then a child nutritionist would be able to help plan healthy food for kids which could take care of the nutrients missed out if dairy is excluded.
Also, today we see many children who are lactose intolerant, a condition wherein the milk sugar, lactose cannot be digested thus causing symptoms like abdominal pain and diarrhea. To help plan nutritious food for kids, parents of such children may also have to approach a nutritionist for kids.
Having said this, it remains a fact that dairy foods have a special role to play in a child’s growth and development. This is because they contain a variety of essential nutrients, such as calcium, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin B12, riboflavin, vitamin A, zinc, etc. Other than these essential nutrient delivery, dairy products are undoubtedly rich in protein of high biological value – a nutrient not sufficiently consumed by Indians as our diets are mainly starch or carbohydrate based. Also, calcium is a nutrient abundant in dairy which helps maintain healthy bones and teeth through life. Calcium along with vitamin D is involved in the skeletal growth and prevention of osteoporosis in adult life. Dairy provides around 55% of a child’s daily calcium needs.
Dairy consists of the following foods:
Milk, curd, cheese, paneer, and buttermilk.
Kids who are lactose intolerant can easily consume yogurt, hard cheese like parmesan cheese andlactose free milk, since these foods contain very less amount of lactose.
So, if your child is able to have dairy ensure that the recommended number of servings are served in the day for the nutrients needed for growth and development from it. If the child is not able to or chooses not to have dairy in the diet, a child nutritionist could suggest foods to compensate for the loss of nutrients by taking away dairy from the diet.