Amid the chaos of getting kids out the door in the morning and taming the hangry monsters that get off the bus in the afternoon, parents may be overlooking a critical part of setting their kids up for success during the school year: a nutrient-rich diet. One out of two kids ages 9 and up are not getting enough calcium, vitamin D and potassium - nutrients they need to grow, learn and play. And, most kids younger than nine are falling short on vitamin D and potassium.
Milk is the top food source for calcium, vitamin D and potassium, which is why experts, including pediatricians, recommend real dairy milk as part of kids' diets to ensure they have nutrients they need to be set up for success.
"As a mom, I know the chaotic reality that going back-to-school brings, but as a doctor, I know the most important thing I can do for my kids is make sure they're eating and drinking the right things each day," said Dr. Tanya Altmann, pediatrician, best-selling author and nationally recognized parenting expert. "As parents, we don't always know what our kids are eating and drinking once we send them out the door, which makes getting in a nutritious snack more important than ever. When my kids come home from school tired and hungry, I pour a glass of milk with their snack. It's my secret weapon to helping them get nutrients they may have otherwise missed."
Why Experts Recommend Milk
Experts recommend that kids 4-8 should get 2½ servings of milk or milk products each day and kids 9 and up should be getting 3 servings each day. But by the time kids are nine, three out of four are falling short on the recommended amount of milk and milk products. In fact, kids ages nine and up average a little more than one 8-ounce serving of milk per day.
Three of the nutrients in milk - calcium, vitamin D and potassium - are so important for kids' growth and development that the Dietary Guidelines for Americans identified them as nutrients of public health concern because many Americans, including school-aged kids, are not consuming enough. Missing these important nutrients during critical growing years could have serious long-term implications, including a child not reaching their full height potential, an increase in stress fractures during adolescence, and a greater chance of osteoporosis as an adult.
Experts also agree that milk remains a great way for kids to get their bone-building nutrients - even more so than non-dairy milks fortified with calcium, which don't have the same nutritional value as real milk. Only real dairy milk offers a full array of bone-building nutrients - calcium, vitamin D, potassium, protein and phosphorus - for only about 25 cents a glass.
Substituting milk with non-dairy calcium sources like fortified soy milk and leafy greens can lead to gaps in other key nutrients like protein, vitamin D, phosphorus, riboflavin, potassium, magnesium, vitamin A and vitamin B12.
Tame the Hangry
The good news is that serving milk isn't a food battle moms have to fight. Kids love milk, in fact 41 percent of kids would drink more milk.
When kids come home from school, they can seem like hangry monsters, looking for the closest snack to keep their hunger at bay. By pouring a glass of milk alongside afternoon snacks, moms can feel good knowing their kids are getting nutrients they need.
Back to School Confessions
To kick off the new school year, the Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP) is encouraging moms to share their own back to school-related confessions for the chance to win a school year's supply of milk for their family. To enter, parents can post their confessions to Instagram or Twitter, tagging @MilkLife and using #BackToSchool and #contest in the caption.
The contest runs from August 10 - September 30, 2018 and is open to parents or legal guardians of grade school-aged kids who are residents of the fifty (50) United States or the District of Columbia and are at least 18 years or older. For full rules, visit https://milklife.com/page/milk-back-school-contest-official-rules.
For more on the nutritional reality kids today are facing and tips for taming after-school hunger, visit PourMoreMilk.com.