Whey Protein for Children's Growth | Importance and Benefits

Not all proteins are made equal - whey protein is the most effective source of protein to help children grow.

Whey Protein is Optimal for Growth

Researchers have identified whey protein and other dairy-derived proteins as the most effective at promoting growth compared to plant-based proteins. This is because whey protein is a complete protein, providing all of the 9 essential amino acids a child needs to grow and develop. Additionally, whey protein is easily digestible and absorbed by the body, making it an ideal protein source for children.

While genetics plays a large role in a child’s growth, we know that nutrition heavily influences a child’s final height. Protein intake is particularly important for children as it is essential for the development of strong muscles, bones, and other tissues, and it also helps to support the immune system. Additionally, protein is involved in producing hormones like Growth Hormone (GH).

Children who do not consume enough protein may experience growth and development delays and may also be more susceptible to illness and infection. A healthy child can utilize the nutrients they consume to grow, but a sick child utilizes those nutrients to heal and recover. A diet rich in protein can help children to achieve not only optimal growth and development now but can also promote healthy weight management and reduce the risk of chronic diseases as they enter adulthood.

While the main benefit is protein, whey protein also offers bone-building minerals and B vitamins. Calcium, potassium, and phosphorus are all needed to help with bone density and growth. In addition, vitamins B1, B2, and B6 play roles in the metabolism of macronutrients, which the body utilizes to support the nervous system, skin, eyes, and brain.

Who Needs Whey Protein Supplementation?

Studies have shown that protein supplementation can improve growth outcomes in children who are at risk for malnutrition. In the developed world, the concern is ‘undernutrition’ - children may consume enough calories but not enough of key nutrients to support growth. This is commonly due to picky eating, appetite suppression, and other feeding issues. This is when supplementing a child’s diet with whey protein shakes may be advised. 

The key is to serve children an appropriate amount based on their age and stage of growth. For example, children need more protein pound for pound compared to adults; however a protein shake made for adults is not appropriate for a child.

What Age Can Children Start Consuming Whey Protein?

Children as young as 2 years old can consume whey protein when dosed appropriately. Since the addition of whey protein is supplemental, it's vital to consider the composition of their diet and level of physical activity. Children who participate in sports and other regular physical activities need more calories and protein to ensure the high level of activity doesn’t impact their growth. 

It is not recommended that children under 2 years of age consume whey protein supplements because the focus should be on nutrition from breast milk, formula, and the introduction of solid foods. In addition, prioritizing a balanced diet in the earliest stages of development by successfully introducing new foods can help to prevent picky eating later in childhood. 

What If My Child Can’t Consume Whey Protein?

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI), about 2% of children in the United States are allergic to milk. Other animal proteins are excellent sources of protein - eggs, chicken, fish, and beef. If a child is picky or vegetarian, fear not plant-based proteins can still support a child’s growth.

While plant proteins are not as effective on growth as whey protein, combining two or more sources of plant proteins in a meal will provide the essential amino acids children need. 

Why Whey Protein in Healthy Heights Shake Mixes?

Healthy Heights products are designed by doctors and backed by science, so whey protein was the best choice among all the protein when creating a product line focused on children’s growth. Since children of different ages require different amount of protein, we have created option for children age 2 to 18 years old. Choose the optimal Healthy Heights shake for your child today!

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