The North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition latest Position Paper on plant-based beverages emphasizes that plant-based beverages do not provide a similar nutritional profile as cow’s milk and thus may be harmful to children’s nutritional status, growth and development.
The position paper highlights the important role that cow’s milk plays in young children’s diets in providing key nutrients to promote optimal growth and development.
The protein that cow’s milk provides to young children is especially important. Both protein quantity and quality are important to consider. For example, a 250 mL serving of almond or rice beverage provides only 2% or 8% of the protein found in cow’s milk, respectively. The lower quality protein in plant-based beverages further reduces their nutritional value compared to cow’s milk.
Fortification of plant-based beverages with calcium and vitamins also varies as does the bioavailability of the added nutrients.
Education is needed to clarify that plant-based beverages are not nutritionally equivalent to cow’s milk.
A copy of the scientific paper published in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition can be accessed here: https://journals.lww.com/jpgn/Fulltext/2020/08000/North_American_Society_for_Pediatric.30.aspx