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Advice to Children to "Drink Their Milk" Should come with Recommended Amounts

12/17/2012 For Release:  December 17, 2012

Young children who drink cow’s milk increase their stores of vitamin D, but decrease their iron levels. According to the study, “The Relationship Between Cow’s Milk and Stores of Vitamin D and Iron in Early Childhood,” in the January 2013 issue of Pediatrics (published online Dec. 17, 2012), two cups of cow’s milk per day is sufficient to maintain adequate vitamin D levels for most children, while also maintaining sufficient iron stores. Researchers looked at more than 1,300 children aged 2 to 5, assessing the amount of milk they drank per day as well as vitamin D and iron supplementation, time spent outdoors, skin pigmentation, body mass index and bottle use, all of which can modify the effects of milk consumption on vitamin D and iron levels. Blood samples were taken from the children to determine these levels. The authors found there is a trade-off for milk consumption in this age group:  It raises vitamin D stores but lessens iron stores. They concluded that two cups of milk per day is sufficient to maintain adequate vitamin D levels in most children, while having minimal impact on iron stores. The authors also noted that vitamin D supplementation is important for certain children based on the season, their skin pigmentation, and amount of time spent playing outdoors.

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The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org.