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Milk and Nutrition |  Nutritionist sounds the alarm about milk: – Undeserved bad reputation

Milk and Nutrition | Nutritionist sounds the alarm about milk: – Undeserved bad reputation

2023 was no exception: Norwegians' milk consumption continues to decline.

We are drinking significantly less skim milk and skimmed milk in particular, while there has actually been an uptick in the sale of whole milk and flavored milkshakes.

The Norwegian Health Directorate's draft consultation on nutritional advice presented on March 22 does not give much hope for increased sales in the future.

In this year's draft, the number of recommended daily servings of dairy products was reduced from “three” to “two to three”, in addition to launching plant-based drinks and dairy alternatives for the first time as a potential alternative to dairy products. .

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– Undeserved bad reputation

The fact that interest in milk is declining causes concern for clinical nutritionist Tine Megelbo Sundvoor.

She believes that the perception of milk by many Norwegians, that milk is “unhealthy”, is one reason why this trend continues.

– This is probably because many people believe that milk is not healthy. “I hope we can create a more positive image for such healthy foods that have received an undeserved bad reputation,” Sundvor tells Nettavisen.

As Netavisin reported on Friday Sales of protein-rich dairy products have skyrocketed in recent years, but it's not the proteins in milk that Sundvor worries Norwegians are missing.

Dairy products such as milk and yogurt, as well as white fish, are the only sources of iodine. In addition, milk is rich in calcium, which is important for building bones.

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– Norwegians drinking less milk is a problem, Sundvor says, because young women in particular get too little calcium and too little iodine.

Read more about why iodine is important for the body in the last paragraph.

– You should not dictate to people what to eat

Last month Nina Kathryn Johansen and others wrote Discussion post in Aftenposten She wondered if cow's milk was more natural and less processed than other milks, and wondered why there was no need to drink animal milk.

“So why don't we avoid environmental toxins, centrifuged milk fats and concentrated secret ingredients and instead opt for oat milk produced in Norway? Here, it's all on the packaging!”, the discussion post concludes.

Johansen has a master's degree in nutrition and is vice president of the Association for Medicine and Nutrition “Mat for helsen”. She explains to Nettavisen why she chose to write the discussion post:

– I'm not saying that you shouldn't drink milk if you want to, but it's not necessary. It's often made out as if milk is essential because it contains calcium and iodine, but that's not true, Johansen tells Netafsen.

Most plant-based milks contain added calcium, and many also contain iodine, in the same amounts as milk. This is our point of view. Of course, we shouldn't dictate to people what to eat and drink, but I think it's good for people to know that cow's milk is not essential, and not particularly sustainable, says Johansen.

Furthermore, she explains why she believes cow's milk is not a sustainable option.

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– Cow's milk requires a lot of resources. The concentrated feed that cows eat contains soybean oil and palm oil. Johansen says plant-based drinks are a more sustainable option.

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Especially important for pregnant women

Whether you get iodine through cow's milk or iodine-rich plant milk, there's no doubt that your body needs it.

The 2014 Health Directorate report stated that iodine plays an important role in regulating metabolic hormones and energy circulation in cells, in addition to stimulating the absorption of glucose in the intestines and the breakdown of fats and glycogen.

Sundvor tells Netavesen that most Norwegians have what is called “suboptimal consumption” of iodine. This is probably because we only have a few sources of iodine in our natural diet.

“Children and adults who do not have milk and fish in their diet currently do not have good sources of iodine in their diet in Norway, unless they take nutritional supplements,” says a 2014 Norwegian Health Directorate report.

Most types of table salt are enriched with iodine so Norwegians get more of it, but not in particularly large amounts.

– In Sweden, there is a lot of iodine in salt. It has been debated whether this is what should be done in Norway, but then it feels a bit strange to put something we need a lot into something we need less, says Sundfør.

The dietitian encourages everyone to make sure they get enough iodine, but for one group this is especially important:

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In pregnant women, iodine plays an important role in the development of the baby's central nervous system. If you don't consume enough iodine during pregnancy, in the worst case scenario, you risk the baby developing brain damage, warns Sundfør.

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