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Dietitian Q/A

Because of the contents of some questions and the large number we receive, the MUSC Dietitians only answer selected questions. Although we discourage questions regarding personal health problems, scheduling an appointment with the outpatient dietitian to address these concerns is encouraged. Appointments can be made after a physician referral is received.

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 Question:  Almond Milk - Soy Milk- Whole Milk- which is best for a 3 1/2 year old boy.


All three, almond, soy and cow's milk, can be a part of a healthy diet for a child. Each can provide different nutrients to the child and you can certainly use all three types or just one. Below are some guidelines for each type.  

Almond milk  is cholesterol-free, lactose-free and a good source of protein. It is a naturally good source of potassium and vitamin E. It can be fortified so it may also be a good calcium and vitamin D source. Children that are allergic to tree nuts may need to avoid almond milk too. Almond milk has been reported to have to effect thyroid function, however, no research was found to back up this claim.

Soy milk is also cholesterol-free, lactose-free and a good source of protein. Like almond milk, it is a naturally good source of potassium and vitamin E. It can also be fortified with calcium and vitamin D. Soy is one of the most common allergies among children, so watch for signs of allergy when introducing any soy to the diet for the first time. Soy has been reported to have estrogen like effects in males and can also effect thyroid function. Research suggests that at moderate amounts there are no risks to healthy individuals as far as these are concerned.

Between the ages of 1 year and 2 years, whole milk can is appropriate for children that are not at risk of being overweight. Children between the ages of 1 year and 2 years that are at risk for being overweight and all children over the age of 2 years should be switched to reduced-fat (2%) milk. Since you are asking about a 3 1/2 year old, 2% milk would be the most appropriate option for cow's milk. Cow's milk is a good source of potassium, calcium and protein for growing children. It is also usually fortified with vitamin D, which most people, including children are deficient in.

As with anything, moderation is important. Children between the ages of 2 and 4 should typically have about 16 to 24 ounces of milk daily (this will also include any other dairy products such as yogurt and cheese). Therefore, all three types of milk should not exceed this amount alone or in combination for optimum health.

Answered: 03/13/2011

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