Does your child get enough dairy?
I have learned the mantra of “three serves of dairy a day” by heart – but I had never stopped to actually ask “why do children need that magical amount of dairy?”, and “what happens if they don’t get it?”

Lahra Carey spoke to nutritionist Katrina Strazdins in search of the answers.

Why do we need to give our children dairy?

Dairy foods are a great source of calcium – and for young children, this is very important for the growth and maintenance of strong healthy bones and teeth.

“A recent study found that children who avoid milk may be at more than twice the risk of childhood bone fractures compared to those who drink milk regularly,” Katrina said.

Why three serves per day?

“Having three serves of dairy every day virtually guarantees that people will get the calcium they need. And it can be as simple as a glass of milk, a tub of yogurt and two slices or a piece of cheese,” Katrina explained.

The 1995/96 National Nutrition survey found that less than half of Australian children met their daily calcium requirements. However of those children who did consume three serves of dairy practically all of them met their daily requirement for calcium.

Yogurt is a good source of:

Calcium:

One 60g tub of some yohurts contains as much calcium as almost half a kilogram of broccoli, 50g of almonds or 7 slices of wholemeal bread.  That’s where serving up yogurt as a snack can provide the perfect solution.

Nutrients:

“Ensuring growing children get all the nutrients they need is critical for their growth and development. Yogurt is an important part of a growing child’s diet as it provides many of the essential nutrients he or she needs and of course children enjoy eating it,” she said.

“During growth and development, very young children should have whole milk as it is an important source of energy, essential fatty acids and fat soluble vitamins. That is why Yoplait Petit Miam is specially made for young children with this in mind, using whole milk.”

Protein:

Proteins are the body’s building blocks for growth and repair.

“The brain, skin, hair, nails, muscles and immune system all rely on protein to function properly everyday,” she said.

“Just one tub of Yoplait Petit Miam provides an average child up to three years of age with between one fifth and a quarter of their daily protein requirements.”

Vitamin D:

Some yoghurts also contain vitamin D which is a fat soluble vitamin that helps bones take up calcium.

“Few Australians would gain enough vitamin D from their diet. It was thought that most Australians get enough vitamin D through exposure to the sun but recent research suggests that this may not be true!” she said.

A word about sugar

Some sugars can be an important part of a healthy diet as they provide the fuel that young children need.

“Sugar and carbohydrates are in fact the body’s preferred energy source.”

“Much of the sugar in yogurt is lactose. Lactose is a naturally occurring sugar found in milk. There will also be some natural sugar from the fruit added to the yogurt. This is combined with some added sugar to create a flavour which children will enjoy,” she said.

Nutritionist Katrina Strazdin, at the time of this interview, worked for National Foods (one of Australia’s largest dairy companies) who produce Petit Miam which they market as a unique children’s yogurt because it is a fromage frais. Fromage frais simply means ‘fresh cheese’ in French.”  “As a fromage frais, Petit Miam is thicker and has a more spoon hugging texture. This appeals to children and mums as it is easy to eat without going everywhere which saves on some of the cleaning up.”

 
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