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Milk For Brain Development: Why It's So Important

Milk For Brain Development: Why It's So Important

Milk is one of the most nutritious food sources known to man. The advantages of milk for brain development are plenty, apart from the other benefits it offers the body. We know that for the first few years of a child’s life, their main source of nourishment is milk; specifically, breastmilk. In fact, it remains to be an important component in the diet of people of all ages. In children, it helps form healthy bones and teeth while for adults, it prevents osteoporosis, or the loss of bone over time. It also benefits the heart and proper functioning of cells.

What’s in milk?

Milk is a rich source of calcium, which supports healthy bones and teeth. It contains proteins, fats and carbohydrates that are enough to meet humans’ needs. It contains various nutrients that each have their own functions that highlight the value of milk for brain development.

Health experts recommend including dairy products apart from milk, like cheese and yogurt, for a balanced diet. In older adults, milk supports heart health, reduces blood pressure levels, and guards against type 2 diabetes. It also curbs osteoporosis, a condition that especially affects women over 50 years old. Such women often have heightened calcium requirements. Milk also protects against tooth decay, plaque formation, oral acidity, and triggers saliva flow.

What are helpful nutrients in milk for brain development?

Nutrients present in milk include riboflavin, phosphorus, vitamin A and B12, potassium, magnesium, zinc, and iodine. Highlighted below are the ways some nutrients in milk for brain development work:

  • Magnesium facilitates nerve transmission, neuromuscular coordination, and prevents neuronal cell death.
  • Zinc helps neurons (nerve cells) communicate with each other. Meanwhile, a lack of this nutrient could damage protein synthesis needed for brain development.
  • Vitamin A is essential for learning and memory: a study suggests that it can curb cognitive decline related to aging. It also helps support neuronal plasticity, which is when the brain’s structure or function changes as a response to previous experiences. Neuronal plasticity helps with memory, skill learning, and storage of information. This is a particularly important perk of milk for brain development.
  • Vitamin B12 is crucial for the conversion of amino acids into neurotransmitters such as serotonin, melatonin, dopamine, noradrenaline, and adrenaline. B vitamins play roles in a variety of biological functions. They work in cellular functioning, metabolic reactions, brain function, energy production, DNA and RNA synthesis and synthesis of neurochemicals.

How does milk affect babies’ brains?

Research found that breastmilk intake improved childhood cognition. Breastfeeding for longer is also linked to higher IQ in school-age children. The same study focused on breastmilk for preterm infants suggested that it contributed to higher IQ, mathematical ability, and working memory at age 7. Babies’ brains develop very quickly in the first year of life. Breastmilk has nutrients that infant brains needs which baby formula doesn’t have.

What about in older adults?

A study revealed that glutathione levels are linked to the intake of milk for brain development. Glutathione, an antioxidant, is instrumental in battling oxidative stress, which could result in damaging reactive chemical compounds in the brain. It’s also linked to various diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Researchers say that oxidative stress was like rust building up on your car.

Key Takeaway

Milk is an essential component in the diets of infants, young children, teenagers, and adults. Apart from healthy bones and teeth, there are many advantages it offers ranging from cardiovascular health. The benefits of milk for brain development include improved learning, memory, cognition, and proper brain growth and communication between nerve cells.

Learn more Nutrition Facts here.

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Sources

Milk, https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/milk. Accessed 16 Mar 2022

The Science of Breastfeeding and Brain Development, https://dx.doi.org/10.1089%2Fbfm.2017.0122. Accessed 16 Mar 2022

Milk could be good for your brain, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150324101447.htm. Accessed 16 Mar 2022

B Vitamins and the Brain: Mechanisms, Dose and Efficacy—A Review, https://dx.doi.org/10.3390%2Fnu8020068. Accessed 16 Mar 2022

Significance of vitamin A to brain function, behavior and learning, https://dx.doi.org/10.1002%2Fmnfr.200900246. Accessed 16 Mar 2022

Neuronal Plasticity, https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/neuronal-plasticity#:~:text=Neuronal%20plasticity%20is%20generally%20defined,%2C%20%26%20Merabet%2C%202005).. Accessed 16 Mar 2022

Zinc, the brain and behavior, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7082716/#:~:text=Zinc%20plays%20an%20important%20role,protein%20synthesis%20during%20brain%20development.. Accessed 16 Mar 2022

The Role of Magnesium in Neurological Disorders, https://dx.doi.org/10.3390%2Fnu10060730. Accessed 16 Mar 2022

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Written by China Logarta Updated 3 weeks ago
Medically reviewed by Dexter Macalintal, MD