How to Choose a Plant Based Milk

I’m often asked by clients about plant based milks. Four years ago I gave up dairy and soya products while breastfeeding my son who had cows milk protein allergy (CMPA). Now there are far more milks to choose from, and they are much more easily available. Most high street coffee shops and cafes will now have at least one dairy free version available.

So what should you look for in a plant based milk?

  • There are lots of different types of ‘milk’, primarily made from nuts, coconut, oats, soya⁠.
  • They all taste pretty different, so shop around until you find a milk you like. ⁠
  • Try and avoid those with carrageenan as there is some evidence this is a stomach irritant.⁠
  • Rudehealth hazelnut milk is delicious for making hot chocolate, but isn’t fortified with calcium⁠.
  • Choose one that is unsweetened.
  • Oatly Whole and barista foam really well, and are great for making coffee. They also don’t split and curdle in tea.⁠
  • ⁠Infants that have CMPA can be changed onto a plant based milk such as @oatly whole (which is fortified and high in fat) from 12 months provided they are growing well.⁠
  • 50% of babies with CMPA are also allergic to soya, as the protein structure is very similar. ⁠

Iodine

Until recently iodine has been largely thought to be sufficient in our diets. However, research has raised concerns that pregnant and breastfeeding women are at risk of deficiency. Dairy products and fish are iodine rich foods, so people following a vegan diet are als at risk of iodine deficiency. , which is important in the diet of pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Depending on your life stage, people need different amounts of iodine per day.

  • Children 1-8years need 90 mcg
  • Children 9-13 years need 120 msg
  • Teenagers 14-18 years and adults need 150mcg
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women need 200 mcg

100mls of Oatly contains 22.5mcg. So an adult would need approximately 660mls of Oatly milk per day to meet all their iodine requirements (excluding any other foods/drinks). This is about 2 average cups of milk.

Alpro growing up milk has marginally more iodine at 24.5mcg per 100mls. So a child between 1-8 years would need to drink 370ml per day to meet their iodine requirements, but isn’t suitable for children with a cows milk protein and soya allergy.  Asda Free From Oat Drink also contains iodine.

Calcium

Calcium in our diets is incredibly important for our bone, teeth and muscle health. For many people most of their calcium requirement comes from eating dairy products. Therefore, it can be difficult to get enough calcium with dairy exclusion. If you are following a dairy-free diet, I recommend looking for a plant based milk that is fortified with calcium (for example Oatly, Alpro, Almond Breeze and Koko) for your main milk.⁠ Organic milks are not able to be fortified due to the rules classifying organic products. Therefore, Rude Health organic milks are not fortified with calcium.

Here is a handy list of the commonly available milks and their calcium content per 100mls of milk (approximately a 1/3 of a cup).

  • Full fat cows milk 124mg
  • Oatly Whole 120mg
  • Oatly Skinny 120mg
  • KoKo dairy free 120mg
  • Alpro Fresh Original Soya Milk Alternative 120mg

The BDA (Association of UK Dieticians) has a really handy table detailing calcium requirements so you can check if you are getting enough.

Have you read my blog about whether dairy is healthy?

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