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Do milk powders for kids really help?

Do milk powders for kids really help?

Do milk powders for kids really help?

Health drinks provide only a few of the essential nutrients that are present in foods, fruits and vegetables. This is why focussing on a kids' diet would be better than relying on health drinks for them.

The malt-based drinks such as Horlicks, Bournvita, Complan and Boost are marketed as health drinks but are these drinks as healthy as shown in advertisements?

In these milk powders the primary ingredient is malt and the subsequent ingredient is always sugar which may add to consuming sugar above the prescribed limit. Sugar is highly addictive and quite often leads to children never drinking milk by itself. For example, 100g of bournvita contains 7g protein, 1.8g fat and 85.2g carbohydrates of which 32 g is sugar. The micronutrient content present in these drinks helps the body to perform and enhance physiological functions. Malt is the product obtained from germinating barley. The germinated grain then undergoes the stages of drying, grinding, extracting, filtering and evaporating to produce malt extract, with 78% to 80% solid content. Malting allows the starches in the grains to change into sugars, such as glucose and fructose.

Bournvita claims it helps build stamina and concentration but the ingredients include malt extract, sugar, cocoa solids, milk solids, caramel, liquid glucose, raising agent, emulsifier, vitamins, minerals, salt. It also contains artificial flavours.

Tips while choosing health drinks for your child

  1. Nutritional value is key while deciding the effectiveness of the child's health drink. The main source of protein in Horlicks and Bournvita is wheat, which means grain is the main source of protein. But in Complan, the main source of protein is milk and they use 52% milk solids. The milk protein is better than wheat protein, which means you get essential amino acids from Complan, but not from Horlicks or Bournvita. Also, Complan uses less sugar compared to Horlicks and Bournvita. All of them provide equal value of vitamins and minerals. 
  2. Before buying any health drink check its label if it's suitable for your kid. If a child is lactose or wheat intolerant then choose the ones free from these. 
  3. Ignore the glossy font; focus on the information given in small font at the backside of the package. 
  4. Check the name of the first ingredient which is the primary ingredient as it is used the most in the product. 
  5. Spot the hidden sugar like maltodextrin, glucose syrup solid, liquid glucose, sucrose, corn solids. 
  6. Count the number of ingredients and choose something that has less preservatives and other chemicals. 
  7. As per studies, consumption of food containing preservatives and too much sugar may affect a child's behaviour. So, sweeten your child's drink with natural ingredients such as fresh fruits, dry fruits like figs, dates, and raisins. Also, Sattu flour could be added for a protein boost. 
Shruti Gupta
Nutritional therapist in functional medicine.

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