Trendy alternatives to dairy products, such as oatmeal and almond milk, could endanger the health of adolescent girls who could leak essential nutrients, warns food expert
- Professor Ian Givens said a plant-based diet means a lack of essential nutrients
- Dairy substitutes, with the exception of soy, usually do not correspond to cow’s milk protein
- The study found that almost half of adolescent girls had iron intake below the recommended intake
These are trending milk alternatives that have become an industry of millions.
But by drinking oat or almond-based substitutes and following a meatless diet, teenage girls can risk their health, a food expert warned yesterday.
The move to a more plant-based diet means that many lack essential nutrients, said Professor Ian Givens.
Milk substitutes, with the exception of soy, usually do not match the protein content of cow’s milk, while avoiding meat could lead to iron deficiency, he warned.
Teenage girls can risk their health by drinking oat or almond-based substitutes and following a meatless diet, a food expert warned yesterday (Picture of almonds and almond milk)
He added: “We already have a population of young women, especially in the United Kingdom, especially during adolescence, but also women in slightly older age groups who have a very low intake of some key micronutrients.
“I’m afraid there have been some very specific cases where young children have switched to these products and developed a kind of protein deficiency that you would not expect in Western societies.”
Professor Givens, director of the Institute for Nutrition, Nutrition and Health at the University of Reading, warned that, on average, almost half of women and girls do not get enough iron, partly because of reductions in red meat consumption.
“In fact, it’s happened in the last 20 to 30 years,” he told a news conference.
“It simply came to our notice then. If we look at some nutrients, such as calcium and iodine, we reach 30 percent of this population of young women who are far below the nutritional requirements for these two nutrients, and that is largely a function of reduced milk consumption. ”
The National Diet and Nutrition Survey by the Public Health England (now the UK Health Safety Agency) and the Food Standards Agency found that between 2008 and 2017, 49 percent of girls were 11 to 18 years old and 25 percent were 19 years old. up to 64 had an iron intake below the recommended daily minimum.
Dairy substitutes, with the exception of soy, usually do not match the protein content of cow’s milk, while avoiding meat could lead to iron deficiency, said Professor Ian Givens (Picture of vegan milk and oatmeal).
In 2020, customers spent £ 400 million on “alt milk” made from oats, almonds or soybeans – which is £ 100 million more than the previous year – according to Mintel.
Every third of us drinks substitutes, the most popular is oat milk.
Professor Givens said producers “are starting to try to enrich these products so that they are much closer to milk than they may have originally been.”
But he added: “I think there’s still quite a way to go … especially things like iodine, which for most people is the biggest single source of milk.”
There is also uncertainty as to whether the added calcium in the substitutes is as easily absorbed by the body as from cow’s milk, he said.