With milk, nutrients that children would otherwise need to get from different food sources are already packed into one healthy drink. So what happens when children do not drink milk?
The following are some of the possible health problems they could be facing.
As a major dietary source of easily absorbed calcium, milk is essential to developing healthy bones. So when children fail to get their significant supply of calcium from milk, they could suffer from rickets early on, or from osteoporosis later in life.
Rickets is a bone disease caused by a lack of calcium and vitamin D. Children’s bones become soft and bow-shaped. With weaker bones, bone fractures are more likely to occur as a result.
Several studies have also linked adult osteoporotic fractures to low milk consumption during childhood, simply because children get much of their calcium supply from it.
We know that milk is an excellent source of nutrition for children. Take milk away from the diet, and children may fail to get their share of those nutrients. If these nutrients, specifically protein and vitamin A, are not obtained from other dietary sources, we could have a malnourished child in our hands.
Protein-energy malnutrition (PEM) usually affects children in developing countries who do not consume enough calories or protein. Children with PEM may suffer from wasting disorders such as hair loss, loose and wrinkled skin, edema (organ swelling especially if the child is severely deficient in protein) and starvation resulting to muscle wasting. If not alleviated, PEM can lead to permanent organ damage.
Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) is another major form of malnutrition in the country. It is commonly due to inadequate dietary intake of vitamin A rich foods. Poor growth, lowered resistance to infection, night blindness and rough, scaly skin afflict those with VAD.
According to the 2003 National Nutrition Survey, 40.1 percent of Filipino children have low levels of vitamin A, up from 38 percent in 1998.
The worse news is that VAD can be deadly if not cured. The Department of Health estimates that at least 25,000 children die prematurely from the deficiency every year.
VAD also predisposes children to night blindness or nyctalopia. Children with nyctalopia have defective or reduced vision in the dark or in dimly lit places, especially after coming from bright light.
Thankfully, preventing these ailments is not difficult. Just keep kids nourished with a well-balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, and of course, milk.
- Written by Philippine Star
- Created: 11 February 2014