News and Notes from The Johnson Center

Got milk (or milk substitutes)?

JCCHD | Mon, April 29, 2013 | [Autism Treatment][Healthcare][Q and A ]

Almond Milk

Q: We are avoiding cow’s milk for my daughter and considering almond milk as a replacement.  Do I need to use any supplements to make up for the fact that she isn’t getting any cow’s milk?

A: There are two main things to consider when eliminating cow’s milk from a child’s diet.  First, take a look at the almond milk you are using because many brands of almond milk have higher sugar content than typical cow’s milk or goat’s milk. Make sure that you are not getting a lot of extra sugar with your milk, especially if you are using varieties that have added vanilla or sweeteners. (This is true of many types of cow’s milk substitutes, including rice, coconut, and soy milk.)

Second, if you are comparing the labels of the cow’s milk and almond milk (or any other milk substitute) and reviewing the nutrients, the primary nutrients you are looking at are calcium and vitamin D. Typically these nutrients are present in similar amounts, and if by comparing you confirm these nutrients are indeed similar in the two products, then there should not be a need to supplement.

Lastly, instead of substituting milk products, consider ways to get important nutrients (particularly calcium and vitamin D) through other healthy, low-fat, low-sugar options. The idea that a healthy diet for a child includes something called “milk” is a relatively recent concept, largely promoted for marketing reasons.   Cow’s milk is the perfect food for a baby cow.  The appropriate drink for a child after he or she has been weaned is water, which is critical for health and development.

Got water?