By Dr. Maria Simbra

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Many parents give their children milk because it’s loaded with vitamins that can keep the brain and bones healthy.

However, a new study shows there should be a limit.

The Sherwood family gets plenty of milk with their meals.

“Probably two to three glasses a day,” says mom Melanie Sherwood.

Milk is a great source of vitamin D and calcium, but a new study in the journal “Pediatrics” finds too much may be a bad thing.

Researchers looked at more than 13,000 children ages 2 to 5 and found two cups of milk a day is enough to maintain Vitamin D levels. More than that can affect iron levels.

Milk is not rich in iron, and milk can make it harder for the body to absorb this mineral from other foods.

“Excessive amounts of milk, which was more like three or four or more cups a day was associated with a decrease feritin level, and feritin is associated with your iron stores in your body,” says pediatrician Dr. Suzanne Kaseta.

Getting enough iron is important for children because it plays a critical role in early brain development. Low iron can also increase your risk for anemia.

Besides milk, you can get Vitamin D in other ways. Fatty fish like salmon is a good source. So is the sun. The study points out some children with dark skin may need supplements because their body doesn’t make enough Vitamin D when exposed to sunlight.

Melanie Sherwood says she has no plans to limit milk in her house.

“What the doctor says is good is what I go by,” she says.

And spending plenty of time outdoors also helps.

Whole milk is recommended for children under 2-years-old because the fat in it helps brain development. After age 2, most pediatricians suggest switching to two percent milk. It has all the same nutrients, without as much fat.


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