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Milk Limits & Children

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The Sherwood family gets plenty of milk with their meals.

"Probably two to three glasses a day," says mother Melanie Sherwood. 

Milk is a great source of vitamin D and calcium, but a new study in the journal Pediatrics finds too much may be a bad thing. Researchers looked at more than 1,300 children ages 2 to 5 and found two cups of milk a day is enough to maintain vitamin D levels, more than that can affect iron levels.

"Excessive amounts of milk, which was more like 3 or 4 or more cups a day was associated with a decrease feritin level and feritin is associated with your iron stores in your body," says Dr. Suzanne Kaseta. 

Getting enough iron is important for children because it plays a critical role in early brain development. Low iron can also increase your risk for anemia.

Milk isn't the only way to get vitamin D. Fatty fish like salmon is a good source, so is the sun.

The study points out some children with dark skin may need supplements because their body doesn't make enough vitamin D when exposed to sunlight.

Melanie Sherwood says she has no plans to limit milk in her house. "What the doctor says is good is what I go by."

And spending plenty of time outdoors also helps.

Whole milk is recommended for children under 2 years old because the fat in it helps brain development. After age 2, most pediatricians suggest switching to low fat milk that has all the same nutrients, without the fat.

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