My four year old has multiple allergies including dairy. He was breastfed but since the age of 15 months he had a soy formula and then from age 2 soy milk. He would now consume about 500mls a day.
I have just become aware of discussions about phyto-oestrogens in soy milk and that these may have possible ill-effects on children`s health and development.
Can you tell me anything about this? Should I be looking for an alternative such as rice milk?
We use soy milk here at home, and love it. There are a few things to consider, like any food, ‘too much of a good thing’ applies with soy milk. Yes, you could look at ‘mixing it up’ a little, all foods have compounds and nutrients that are best in a balance. A good example is cows’ milk, in excess the calcium can interfere with iron. The number one dietary guideline is variety, and it is an excellent way to help get a healthful diet.
So you could look at the new Vitasoy range of calcium-enriched milks (oat and rice). Alternate them, use one for one meal eg. brekky and another for dinner, or one on one day etc. This will broaden the range of nutrients and health compounds your toddler gets, as well as keep in check any excesses.
Just one other point on soy milks, I personally think that the brands made from whole soy beans are ideal. Those made from soy protein isolate tend to have a much longer list of ingredients to ensure palatability and so on. So check your ingredients labels well.
On the topic of phyto-eostrogens, it is my understanding that plant estrogens have a very week estrogenic effect in the body, that they in fact work on a receptor level. Basically, they don’t act as estrogen instead they have more of a ‘balancing’ effect in the body in terms of estrogen activity. I hope that makes sense. There remains some concern about plant estrogens, but to date I haven’t seen any strong or convincing evidence that they cause any issues, even in children.
Sanitarium have an excellent web site and their dietitians are fab, as is the research they send out on soy products. I would recommend posing this question to them via their site also, they are likely to forward you good hard evidence that soy is very safe.
I hope that is reassuring.
All the best,