Mention milk and one might immediately think of babies and children, as advertisements have shaped our minds that this is necessary for their growth. Although that is correct, that doesn’t mean milk is only beneficial during those periods in life. Milk is healthy at any age, as it is one of the most calcium-rich foods that we can take.
We all know by now that calcium is good for the bones and teeth, but it has other health benefits such as monitoring the fat levels in the body, ensuring proper muscle functions (including the heart), and lessening the risk of gum disease. Aside from calcium, milk is also a great resource of other essential nutrients such as potassium, phosphorus, niacin, vitamins A, B12, and D, riboflavin, and protein.
Despite milk’s advantages, a study from Nutrients this yearnoted that there is a low level of dairy intake amongst Filipino children, as over half of the nearly 3,000 respondents do not consume dairy products on a given day. Thus, they do not get the macro- and micronutrients their developing bodies need. The role of calcium also becomes more important as we age, as it helps decrease the risk of osteoporosis, risk of fractures, and even diabetes.
So, how much milk should one drink based on age then? If we base it on the amount of calcium needed daily, the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) has a guide assuming each cup of milk has 300 mg of the mineral:
CALCIUM IN MILLIGRAMS (mg)
CUPS IN MILK (per day)
750 (for females) | 800 (for males)
2.5 (for females) | 2.6 (for males)
For newborns, they are recommended to drink 16 to 24 ounces of milk per day, considering the serving size of milk is equivalent to 1 cup per 8 fluid ounces (fl oz.). Infants from 4-6 months old are prescribed 28 to 45 oz. per day, while those who are 6-12 months old can drink milk between 3-5 times per day.
The type of milk consumed matters too, as newborns can only take breast milk or infant formula. Whole milk is best for children 1 to 2 years of age since they require a higher-fat diet for proper brain development. A 2019 study in Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity noted that adults who drank low-fat milk experienced less biological aging than those who drank high-fat milk, hence the preference for nonfat or 1% milk not only just as part of a healthy diet.
Let go of the notion that milk is only for the young ones, given its numerous health benefits as we age. Drink up, but don’t forget that moderation is still key to retain good overall health.