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Surprising Study Looks at Kids Who Drink Cow’s Milk vs Non-Cow’s Milk, and One Group Comes Up Short

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For anyone whose mom insisted on them drinking a glass of cow’s milk with every meal, you can now thank her for your height. A new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition says that children who don’t drink milk (or drink a non-cow substitute like soy or almond milk) are shorter than their cow’s milk drinking counterparts.

The study was based on 5,034 children between the ages of 24-72 months who took part in a long-term study from St. Michael’s and Sick Kids hospitals in Toronto. Their findings showed that the more non-cow’s milk a child drinks, the lower their height. Even kids who drank a combination of cow’s milk and non-cow’s milk tended to be shorter than average. Interesting!

According to the research, a three-year-old who drank three cups of non-cow’s milk a day is on average 1.5 centimeters shorter (that’s a little more than half-an-inch) than a three-year-old who drank three cups of cow’s milk every day.

Researchers said that even though their study wasn’t designed to look at why non-cow’s milk was linked to shorter heights, they suspect that it has to do with protein and fat content in cow’s milk. Two cups of cow’s milk contain 100% of the daily protein requirement for a three-year-old child, but two cups of almond milk contain only 25% of the daily protein requirement. The study’s lead author, Dr. Jonathon Maguire, noted that the nutritional content of cow’s milk is strictly regulated in the United States and Canada, while the nutritional content of most non-cow’s milks are not.

Dr. Maguire said that the study is important because height is a key indicator of a child’s overall health and development. So if you fancy your kids becoming basketball players, start pouring them a glass of milk or two every day.

(Image: iStock / shironosov)