The importance of growing-up milk
Reduced protein intakes
The 2013 Nutri-Bébé study demonstrated that the protein intake of young children in France is too high. At the age of 3 years, in particular, the mean intakes are 42.2 g/d on average, i.e. 4 times higher than the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) recommendations.
However, protein intake is much less high in children consuming infant formula up to the age of 3 years: their average protein intakes were 19% lower than their non formula-drinking peers.
This tendency can be explained by the fact that growing-up milk has a lower protein content than cow’s milk: drinking 500 ml of growing-up milk each day allows young children to reduce their protein intake by 25 g.
Reduced sodium intakes
In France, the 2013 Nutri-bébé study highlights the fact that the daily sodium intake is above the EFSA recommendations from the age of 6 months and that it constantly increases: at 24 months old, children consume, on average, 3 times more sodium than the maximum recommended level.
However, once again, children drinking growing-up milk have a sodium intake that is 19% lower than that of other children. This is not insignificant since, just like excess protein, too much sodium can put a heavy strain on children’s kidneys. Furthermore, studies show that an excessive sodium intake in young children may promote a risk of high blood pressure in adulthood.
Increased iron intakes
Iron contributes to numerous functions in the body, with it therefore playing an essential role. For example, it is a component of haemoglobin, which enables oxygenation of cells, and of myoglobin, which carries oxygen to the muscles. In addition, it has been demonstrated that iron deficiency can cause anaemia, resulting in lower resistance to infections and a risk of abnormal cognitive development.
Again according to the results of the Nutri-bébé study, from 12 to 24 months, 45% of children have inadequate iron intakes and between the ages of 24 and 36 months, the figure is over 75%.
Children drinking growing-up milk in sufficient quantities consume an average of 9.1 mg of iron per day, i.e. more than the minimum of 8 mg/d recommended by EFSA.
Increased essential fatty acid intakes
In children whose bodies are undergoing intensive growth, fats are an essential source of energy (they represent 45 to 50% of the energy supplied by human breast milk or infant formulas). These fats have the capacity to generate ATP (adenosine triphosphate), but also to be stored to constitute energy and tissue component (membrane phospholipids) reserves. Finally, they are precursors of substances that regulate cell functions (prostaglandins, leukotrienes).
Some fatty acids are synthesised by humans whereas others cannot be and must be provided in the diet: the latter are called “essential” fatty acids; these are alpha-linolenic acid C18:3n-3 and linoleic acid C18:2n-6.
The 2013 Nutri-bébé study reveals the under-consumption of EFAs in young children from the age of 6 months. Moreover, when children reach the age of 2 years, 72% have linoleic acid intakes below the recommended levels and at 3 years, 77% have inadequate alpha-linolenic acid intakes.
Young children drinking growing-up milk have an essential fatty acid content well above the average since they consume, on average, 77% more Omega 6 fats and 71% more Omega 3 fats.
In conclusion, the 2013 Nutri-bébé study demonstrated that infants consuming infant formula up to the age of 3 years in addition to a diversified diet have their nutritional intake requirements better covered than infants not drinking growing-up formula. In fact, even in the event of well-managed complementary feeding following the recommendations to the letter, foods cannot cover all nutrient requirements because the contents are too low. When growing-up milk is consumed in sufficient quantities, it enables iron and essential fatty acid requirements to be covered in young children and contains less protein and sodium than cow’s milk.