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Is Rice Milk a Healthy Alternative?

By Sarahlynne Davis

Rice milk is an alternative to cow's milk and is often chosen because a person is allergic to the cow's milk protein or is a vegetarian or vegan. It provides nutrients and is hypoallergenic, but it is also deficient in some important categories. Rice milk is tasty for drinking or putting on cereal for toddlers or older children, but it is not an adequate substitute for infant formula or breast milk. Check with your pediatrician about using rice milk for children.

Benefits of Rice Milk

Rice milk contains many nutrients. It is low in fat and high in niacin, vitamin B-6, iron, copper and magnesium. Rice milk does not contain lactose or cholesterol, which are found in cow's milk. Additionally, because it is made from rice, a low-allergy food, rice milk does not tend to cause allergic reactions. Rice milk is an excellent addition to a bowl of cereal and, according to, can be used as a thickening agent when baking.

Drawbacks of Rice Milk

Because rice milk is made from rice, it is very high in carbohydrates and sugar and very low in protein. Rice milk is also low in fat and calcium, other important components of a baby's development. However, it is possible to purchase fortified rice milk to obtain these missing nutrients.

Other Calcium Alternatives

Babies and young children need at least 350 to 500 mg of calcium per day, says Foodreactions. org. Do not rely only on milk to provide these nutrients. Choose green, leafy vegetables such as broccoli, spinach and kale and other foods such as salmon and nuts to provide the necessary calcium for a growing child.

Other Milk Alternatives

Soy milk or almond milk are other alternatives to cow's milk. Soy milk has 35 percent of the daily calcium and vitamin D intake, as well as soy protein. Almond milk contains protein as well as fat, but can be an allergen, since it is derived from nuts. When choosing a milk alternative, choose one that is vitamin-fortified so the child receives all necessary nutrients.

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