“So many parents, myself included, we have mom guilt, parent guilt. We feel like we are not doing enough. We are not playing enough. We are not teaching enough. We are not doing all the right things. But by supporting your child’s nutrition with Growing Years, you can just kind of take a little bit of the stress off,” Frances Largeman-Roth, a registered dietitian and nutritionist and mother of three children, told FoodNavigator-USA at a launch event for the milk hosted by Horizon Organic at the Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo.
She explained that Horizon Organic’s Growing Years was developed with pediatricians for children aged 1 to 5 years when they are transitioning from either breast milk or formula to cow’s milk and solids.
The beverage starts with a “solid base of organic whole milk, so you know that you are not getting any GMOs, any toxic pesticides or any added hormones,” and then adds three key nutrients that growing children need for healthy brain and body development, including 50 mg of DHA omega-3, choline and 1 gram of prebiotics per 8 ounce serving.
“DHA omega-3 is a fatty-acid that is essential for brain development, and choline acts as the transporter truck taking DHA around the body to all the cells,” she explained.
She noted that choline is “a nutrient that many people may not have heard of,” but which is present in foods like eggs, Brussel sprouts and cauliflower. Unfortunately, she added, “sometimes kids are not getting enough of these other foods, and so having [choline] in a food like organic whole milk that kids are supposed to get throughout the day anyway is an added bonus.”
She further explained that the addition of prebiotics to the milk also can help caregivers feel good about giving the beverage to their children because they “are the food that helps probiotics to thrive, and probiotics are the good bugs in our bellies we want to support.” She added: “If we don’t have a healthy gut, we don’t have a healthy immune system.”
She also noted that a strong immune system is particularly important for young children who are attending daycare, pre-kindergarten or kindergarten where they are “exposed to a ton of germs.”
Largeman-Roth said that the amount of prebiotics from inulin in one serving is not enough to cause gastro-intestinal discomfort in most children.
While the addition of the nutrients to whole milk may sound good on paper, Largeman-Roth admits she was initially worried that the addition of an algae-based omega-3 or fiber might make the beverage unpalatable for children. But she added, she need not have worried.
“When I first got my sample of Growing Years, my number on thing that I wanted to see for myself as a parent was, how does it taste? Because if it doesn’t taste good, your kids are not going to drink it,” she said.
After a side-by-side comparison, Largeman-Roth said she decided Growing Years tasted “just like other organic whole milk,” which for her “is a total win right there [because] you are getting all these added extra nutrients, but it still tastes just as yummy as a glass of whole milk.”
Largeman-Roth said that beverage’s price-point also makes it palatable for caregivers. At $5.99 for a half gallon, Growing Years is only slightly more expensive than Horizon Organic DHA milk and other regular Horizon organic milks.
“So, it is priced comparatively to other organic milks, and you are also getting a ton of other benefits. So, some people are giving their kids a prebiotic supplement or a probiotic supplement, and this is a product that is going to cover a lot of bases with just one … glass of milk,” she added.