When it comes to height, the Dutch people rule the world! The Dutch are currently the tallest people in the world. Quite fascinating is the fact that the average Dutchman is now 183cm (6ft) tall. Research suggests the growth in height is partly attributed to the heavy consumption of dairy products (Schonbeck et al., 2013 Pediatric Research).

According to in vivo studies, a possible explanation is that height growth is controlled by the mechanistic target of rapamycin complex C1 (mTORC1) (Laplante and Sabatini, 2012). When specific amino acids are deficient in the diet, mTORC1 senses the deficiency and represses protein and lipid synthesis and cellular growth (Laplante and Sabatini, 2012). Thus, a sufficient dietary intake of EAAs is necessary to meet the body’s requirements for normal height growth (Semba, 2016). Further human studies, particularly in children, is necessary to confirm this hypothesis.

Milk provides high quality protein essential for growth

Protein plays a role in building and maintaining body tissues, such as muscle and bone. Proteins consist of chains of amino acids which are classified as essential amino acids (n=9) and non-essential amino acids (n=11). Milk is considered a source of high quality protein as evidenced by its high digestibility factor and the surplus of essential amino acids(EAAS) as compared to the reference EAA pattern (FAO 2013).  The body cannot synthesize the essential amino acids itself and therefore these need to be obtained through food. The essential amino acids are: phenylalanine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, threonine, tryptophan and valine.

Milk protein and linear growth

The South East Asian Nutrition Surveys (SEANUTS) 1 study indicate dairy, as part of a healthy diet, plays an important role in children’s growth by providing essential amino acids (EAAs) with high bioavailability (Nguyen, 2018). Similarly, a systematic review of 12 studies conducted in Europe, USA, China, Northern Vietnam, Kenya, Indonesia and India found that dairy products, especially milk, stimulate height growth in children (De Beer, 2012). The authors noted that a daily milk supplement of approximately 245ml for a year resulted in additional linear growth of 0.4cm/year. Another study following American girls who consumed >3 servings of milk/day from the age of 10 years till adulthood, showed an additional adult height of around 5.6cm (Berkey CS, 2009).

Mother’s milk is the best

Breast milk is the best for babies and of course the gold standard for infant feeding. Rich in all essential nutrients including immunological factors, it provides complete nutrition for children to achieve their highest potential in physical growth and brain development. The World Health Organization recommends that infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life after which appropriate complementary feeding should be commenced while breastfeeding is continued  for up  to two years and beyond.  Afterwards, it’s important that milk remains a vital part of a child’s diet till adolescence and beyond.

Food consumption studies have shown little or no consumption of milk and milk products by preschool age children in some parts of Nigeria.  Furthermore, according to De Vries-Ten et al 2020, majority of protein in Nigerian diets comes from plant sources (staples), which are missing in some of the essential amino acids(EAAs), therefore they do not fulfil the daily protein requirements for children.  Studies have shown that high quality milk protein can bridge that gap(Semba 2016).  A well-balanced growing-up milk, tailored specifically to their nutritional requirements, can serve as a valuable addition to their daily diet  by providing substantial amounts of daily-required (essential) nutrients.

 Specially formulated in accordance with internationally recognized RDA guidelines, Peak 456 Growing-up milk with DHA  helps to provide  daily recommended intake of individual amino acids to support  physical growth and brain development in 4-6 year olds.

References

1. Nguyen Bao KL et al. The consumption of dairy and its association with nutritional status in the South East Asian Nutrition Surveys (SEANUTS). Nutrients 2018;10(6). pii:E759.

2. De Beer H. Dairy products and physical stature: a systematic review and meta-analysis of controlled trials. Econ Hum Biol 2012;10(3):299-309.

3. Berkey CS et al. Dairy consumption and female height growth: prospective cohort study. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2009;18:1881-7.

4. Schonbeck Y et al. The world’s tallest nation has stopped growing taller: the height of Dutch children from 1955 to 2009. Pediatric Research 2013;73(3):371-7.

5. Laplante M and Sabatini DM. mTOR signaling in growth control and disease. Cell 2012;149(2):274-93.

6. Semba RD et al. Child stunting is associated with low circulating essential amino acids. EBioMedicine 2016;6:246-52.

7. FAO Expert Consultation. Dietary protein quality evaluation in human nutrition. 2013. Available at: http://www.fao.org/ag/humannutrition/35978-02317b979a686a57aa4593304ffc17f06.pdf

8. WHO | Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding (pdf, 192kb) (WHA55 A55/15, paragraph 10. www.who.int/nutrition/topics/global_strategy/en/

9. De Vries-Ten Have J, Owolabi A, Steijns J, Kudla U, Melse-Boonstra A. Protein intake adequacy among Nigerian infants, children, adolescents and women and protein quality of commonly consumed foods. Nutr Res Rev. 2020:1-19.

 10. Semba RD. The rise and fall of protein malnutrition in global health. Ann Nutr Metab. 2016;69(2):79-88.

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