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Diet & Nutrition > Foods > milo

Milo is made by Nestlé who are considered to be one of the worlds corporate criminals.

Most New Zealanders love the taste of milo mixed with milk (as well as eaten off the spoon, directly from the container!)  Many children will heap 2 or 3 big tablespoons full of milo and stir in some milk and then add some extra milo onto the top.  But is it really as good for us as Nestlé would have us believe? And what about all those added nutrients?

Nestlé milo review!

I’ve seen babies with milo in their bottle, and what could be wrong with this?

Nestlé tell us that milo has 6 essential vitamins and minerals? In fact, the “Good to know statement” on a container of milo tells us that “Every glass provides 50% of a child’s daily needs for calcium, iron and vitamins B1 and C”. Yes milo may have these nutrients added to it (as part of the special milo formulation) however the naturally occurring caffeine found in the cocoa beans may interfere with the proper absorption of these added nutrients. If parents think that they can rely on milo as a source of these nutrients to help with their children's daily nutritional needs, the child may end up becoming nutrient deficient, let alone all the caffeine they will be receiving in each cup full.

Nestlés website provides all kinds of interesting information, one being an iron chart which lists food sources of iron. It tells me that by having 1 heaped table spoons of milo I am getting 5.32mg of iron. The RDA (recommended daily allowance) of Iron per day for a child aged between 5 months and 10 years of age is 10mg per day. So this means they are saying you can provide ½ of your child’s daily Iron needs by giving them a serve of milo. I think it is a problem that milo is listed as a source of Iron. This is because the naturally occurring caffeine in the cocoa beans in milo can interfere with the proper absorption of nutrients, but particularly Iron and Calcium.

They talk about how milo carries the trusted National Heart Foundation Tick. It goes on to note though, that milo only gets the Tick when made using 15grams or 3 level teaspoons of milo, in 200ml of trim milk. Now who makes a drink of milo with only 3 level teaspoons per cup? I know I most certainly do not. Lots of people I talked to told me they use to eat milo out of the packet or container and when they made a drink of milo, they had at least 3 heaped dessertspoons full, equating to at least 30grams of milo. Their statement continues, “milo is an all-round better choice for you and your family, so now you can feel good about saying yes to milo!”

I talked to a lot of people about the amount of milo they add to a cup. I was surprised to hear from a number of people (adults) that they can only have 1 small teaspoon of milo per cup, as they feel far too stimulated from it. I asked them what they meant by this and they told me that there was no way they could have this in the late afternoon or evening, as they would have a problem sleeping. Remember this was adults who told me this. So if milo can affect adults like this, what does it do to our children when they have this as a drink before bed? Yet isn’t this one of the favourite times to drink milo?

I had a look on milo web site to see if they mentioned Caffeine. To their credit, they do. In their questions and answers section it states that milo contains a small amount of caffeine, as caffeine is a natural component of the cocoa bean. They go on to say that it contains about one fifth the amount found in a cup of coffee. So again they must be basing this on the 3 level teaspoons or 15 grams of milo powder, as is suggested as the serving size on the label.

I found a copy of a report called “Coffee and Caffeine”. This is an Evidence Based Nutrition Statement from The National Heart Foundation of New Zealand’s Nutrition Advisory Committee. In this document there is a chart called “Comparison of caffeine content of typically consumed beverages”. It lists the amount of caffeine found in 100ml of different caffeine containing beverages, such as coffee, tea, coca cola, Red Bull, V, etc. As an example of the caffeine content of some of the listed beverages, Instant coffee contains 44mg of caffeine per 100ml, a tea bag brewed for 1 minute contains 20mg of caffeine per 100ml and Red Bull and V contain 32mg of caffeine per 100ml. The same chart tells us that there is 36.7mg of caffeine in 100 ml of milo powder. Check it out for yourself, on page 9 of this document.

It’s no wonder they tell us “Mix up a glass of milo for a great-tasting and nutritious drink that gives you the energy to go and go and go.” We all know now that one of the main contributors to milo’s ability to help you to go go go is its caffeine content. Nestlé and Osteoporosis New Zealand have teamed up to support building strong bones in kids. They tell us “A glass of milo with trim milk is a good way to help build strong bones and teeth in children.” Remember the naturally occurring caffeine in the milo could interfere with the calcium that is in the milk and that has been added to the milo powder, so I wouldn’t recommend relying on this as a way to build strong healthy bones in children. A child’s daily calcium needs are absolutely humongous, with most age groups needing around 600-800mg per day and those 10 years and over needing around 12, 00-15,00mg per day.

We will all continue to love milo, with its unique chocolaty taste, but hopefully after reading this you are more informed about the caffeine content in milo, the advertising that is behind milo and what you can and cannot rely on with relation to its nutritional content.

Leanne James is a Professional Herbalist, Health Coach, Chartered Natural Medicine Practitioner and the owner of The Online Natural Pharmacy HealthyOnline



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