Cow’s milk contains a lot of essential vitamins that many nuts or oat milks do not, including high levels of protein and vitamin B12 for instance.
It is estimated that 92% of Americans are nutrient-deficient and nearly 50% are deficient in vitamin B12 which can lead to issues like pernicious anemia, vascular disease, stroke, autoimmune conditions, fatigue and dementia.
While almond milk is rich in calcium, many people are not aware about an equally important nutrient called iodine. One small glass of cow’s milk contains about 70% of the recommended intake of iodine which is essential for brain development in babies and regulating mood and metabolism in adults.
Studies have shown that milk derived from plants contains around 2% compared to cow’s milk.
While you can get iodine from eating edible products such as seaweed, cow’s milk until recently was the main source of iodine that was part of the standard western diet for decades.
Even though Western societies are some of the most iodine rich countries in the world, many of us need every scrap of iodine we can get hold of.
A 2011 study of British teenage girls found nearly 70 per cent had iodine levels well below the acceptable minimum. Iodine is needed to make thyroxine, a hormone released by the thyroid gland that controls how effective your body is at converting food into energy, also known as metabolic rate.
Persistently low levels of iodine lead to depletion of this hormone and the slowing down of vital bodily functions, including burning energy. It is what is known as a ‘hypothyroid’ state, which leads to weight gain and mood swings. More worryingly, iodine deficiency in a pregnant woman can impact the brain of the foetus – a 20-year study of 14,000 pregnant and post-pregnant women discovered that if an expectant mother was mild to moderately iodine-deficient, this had a significant effect on her child’s reading ability and IQ scores.
Another study, looking at almost 50,000 babies, found both maternal and newborn iodine intake to have a significant impact on the child’s neurodevelopment at 3 years of age. Low levels of the mineral were associated with delayed language development, behavioural problems and reduced motor skills in children. This happens because a lack of thyroid hormones dramatically halts the brain development of the foetus.
With many people that are still consuming milk, switching to low fat or skim milk products is not the answer as that the fat removal process rids the finished product of a host of vitamins, such as Vitamin A and Vitamin D. Some of these vitamins are added back in afterwards, but by no means all.