A Canadian study examined the levels of vitamin D in non-cow milk such as rice, almond, soy or goat’s milk; a popular alternative for the lactose intolerant. The research team examined 3,821 healthy children ages one to six. Researchers looked at differences in blood levels of vitamin D associated with drinking cow’s milk and non-cow’s milk.
Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to health problems such as bone weakness and, in severe cases, rickets.
“Children drinking only non-cow’s milk were more than twice as likely to be vitamin D deficient as children drinking only cow’s milk,” said Dr. Jonathon Maguire, a pediatrician and researcher with St. Michael’s Hospital. “Among children who drank non-cow’s milk, every additional cup of non-cow’s milk was associated with a five per cent drop in vitamin D levels per month.”
“It is difficult for consumers to tell how much vitamin D is in non-cow’s milk,” said Dr. Maguire. “Caregivers need to be aware of the amount of vitamin D, calcium and other nutrients in alternative milk beverages so they can make informed choices for their children.”
“Our findings may also be helpful to health care providers working with children who regularly consume non-cow’s milk due to cow’s milk allergy, lactose intolerance or dietary preference,” said Dr. Maguire.
Grace J. Lee, Catherine S. Birken, Patricia C. Parkin, Gerald Lebovic, Yang Chen, Mary R. L’abbé, Jonathon L. Maguire. Consumption of non–cow’s milk beverages and serum vitamin D levels in early childhood. Canadian Medical Association Journal, October 2014 DOI: 10.1503/cmaj.140555