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Milk after the 12th month: Fortified or not?

Nature itself has provided for the best diet for our children, which is breast milk.

If for some reason you cannot continue with breastfeeding, the next solution must be a quality milk that will be fulfilling your child’s nutritional needs depending on its age and according to international instructions. Fortified milk is specially designed for preschool children.

What is fortified milk?

It’s milk with added nutrients that are not naturally found in milk, such vitamins and minerals, that aim to increase its nutritional value.

Why do we need to fortify milk?

Unfortified milk contains B-complex vitamins, and minerals such as iodine, potassium and phosphorus. It also contains choline and fatty acids, essential for healthy growth and the brain’s performance. It is however poor in iron and vitamin D.

Why do we need to fortify milk with iron?

Iron is a mineral which is necessary for the composition of hemoglobin and as a result the transportation and storage of oxygen in the body. It helps with protein, hormones and neurotransmitters composition. Children under the age of 3 three years have increased need for iron, thanks to rapid physical growth. Low iron intake from foods may lead to anemia. Moreover, iron deficiency is responsible for poorer mental performance and slower psychomotor progress in young children.

Why do we need to fortify milk with vitamin D?

Vitamin D can be found in foods, but it can also be synthesized endogenously with the effect of sun radiation. But keeping children away from the sun and using sunscreen has led to the re-emergence of hypervitaminosis D incidents. Vitamin D deficiency leads to impairment of the mineralization of bones with calcium and phosphorus in the increasingly developed body of children. Recent studies have highlighted the central role of this fat-soluble vitamin for the immune system, since its lack has been associated with allergies and childhood asthma.

In conclusion, fortified milk is of highly nutritional value because it contains nutrients that are essential and ensure healthy growth rate for young children.

Indicative bibliography

  1. Akkermans, M.D., et al. (2016). “Iron and Vitamin D Deficiency in Healthy Young Children in Western Europe Despite Current Nutritional Recommendations.” J PediatrGastroenterolNutr 62(4):635-42.
  2. Dankers, W., et al. (2017). “Vitamin D in Autoimmunity: Molecular Mechanisms and Therapeutic Potential.” Front Immunol 7:697.
  3. Hollams, E., et al. (2017). “Vitamin D over the first decade and susceptibility to childhood allergy and asthma.” J Allergy ClinImmunol 139(2): 472-481.
  4. Akkermans, M.D., et al. (2017). “A micronutrient-fortified young-child formula improves the iron and vitamin D status of healthy young European children: a randomized, double-blind controlled trial.” Am J ClinNutr 105(2):391-399.
Pinelopi Loukeri
Pediatrician – Neonatologist
Breastfeeding advisor
Formerly at the A’ University Clinic of “Agia Sofia” Hospital

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