There are many days in the year when the world marks important issues that affect millions of people for the purpose of creating awareness about the issues, sensitizing stakeholders to take action if needed and generally to get celebrate the good and eliminate the bad in our society. Today, June 1, is the World Milk Day.
Why is the World Milk Day important? Milk is usually the first food given to man; the breast milk is the greatest food a baby can have. It has the nutrients and other compounds to nourish a child for 6 months. After 6 months, Infants need to continue breastfeeding up till 2 years and beyond according to the National recommendation. A lot of women stop breastfeeding after one year and so supplementing with other milks become very important.
Since most of the milk taken in Nigeria is imported, it is very necessary for mothers, caregivers and other who purchase household items to scrutinize the type of milk they buy and make good choices.
A lot of formula milks try to mirror the breast milk because breast milk is the gold standard. Many of them are based on cow-milk and then modified and fortified to suit children since their bodies cannot utilize cow milk as good as they can utilize breast milk. The protein in cow milk is much higher than that of human milk and it is more difficult for the baby to digest. It also contains more sodium, potassium and less of iron, vitamin E, C, D and essential fatty acids. That is why you see some that formula milks have included omega 3 (DHA) and omega 6 fatty acids (AA) into their formulation along with other vitamins and minerals missing in cow milk. Some formula milks contain vegetable oils, skimmed milk, and emulsifiers.
Other kinds of milk that are available in the market for older children and adults are:
- Full cream Milk: This is whole milk, it is very rich in fat and tastes very creamy.
- Filled milk: This is milk (full cream or skimmed), that has been reconstituted with fats apart from dairy like vegetable (coconut) oils and it is cheaper compared to full cream milk. It is a form of blended milk for those who cannot afford other milks and it is formulated with vitamins and minerals like other milks.
- Skimmed milk: This is milk that fat has been removed from it. There are partial or semi-skimmed milks or fully skimmed milks available in the market. They are also called low fat, reduced fat, and fat-free milks.
- Condensed Milk: it is cow milk with water removed from it so that it is thick. Sugar is usually added and is called sweetened condensed milk.
- Evaporated milk: This is also condensed milk which has about 60% water removed from it but no sugar is added. It is usually homogenized, canned and then heat sterilized.
- Powdered Milk: This is just milk that has been dried to preserve it. It can be full cream, low fat or no fat.
Do not confuse milk for milk substitutes. Milk substitutes are coconut milk, soymilk, rice milk, and almond milk. People who cannot tolerate cow milk or for another reason cannot take them usually take milk substitutes.
Today’s theme is Raise a Glass and Nourish a child. Don’t forget to do this. You can also give a glass of milk to orphans and other vulnerable children who really need it. So, when next you are doing a charity event, you can consider adding milk to the list of items.