Nearly 40 percent of consumers are avoiding dairy products, according to a new NBJ survey. Of the kids who avoid cow’s milk, many may be at a greater risk of a vitamin D deficiency, according to a review of research.
“Vitamin D deficiency among children has resurfaced as a major health concern,” writes Dr. Lauren Milligan, a research associate at the Smithsonian Institute, in SPLASH! Milk Science Update, a publication of the International Milk Genomics Consortium, a non-profit managed by the California Dairy Research Foundation. Milligan references a study This is due to a combination of health professionals recommending that kids avoid the sun to prevent skin cancer, and, because there are very few dietary sources of vitamin D.
What’s the danger of vitamin D deficiency? Rickets, bone demineralization and other negative long-term effects.
Upon reviewing a handful of relevant studies, Milligan concludes that “there is strong evidence to suggest that avoiding cow’s milk negatively affects vitamin D status among North American children.” Because so many families are choosing dairy alternatives, education from health care providers about the potential nutritional differences and the need for supplementation is “clearly needed,” she writes. Two of the studies she sites suggest that the U.S. and Canada consider mandatory vitamin D fortification of milk alternatives. It wouldn’t be easy, she says, but “with something at critical as childhood bone health hanging in the balance, it seems well worth the effort.”
In the meantime, Packaged Facts reports that traditional milk marketers are seeking to reclaim momentum through premium and organic products, like Coca Cola’s new “super milk” fairlife.