Plant-based milks are often touted as a healthy alternative to dairy, but are they everything they’re portrayed to be? This week’s Nutrition News covers the health implications of opting for plant-based over animal-derived, as well as the importance of vitamin K2 and glycine.

Read the latest research here.

Do plant milks lack essential nutrients?

Plant-based milks are a popular alternative to traditional dairy for a lot of people but a recent study has given cause for concern over the lack of essential nutrients that they contain. The study, reported by NutraIngredients, analysed 115 plant-based milks in Australia and found that the category is lacking several micronutrients, including vitamin A, protein, B12 and calcium, when compared to cow’s milk.

The study looked at a wide range of plant-based milks including nut, legume, grains, and coconut derived. In the comparison, the study’s authors found that only a third of the plant-based milks tested contained the same amount of calcium as cow’s milk and none of them were fortified with zinc or iodine.

While plant-based milks can be a healthy choice for people who struggle with dairy products, the study raises the question over the sector’s labelling, suggesting that it should be clearer what micronutrients the consumer may be missing out on.

Researchers demand RDI for vitamin K2

While there is published guidance on the recommended daily intake of vitamin K, there is currently no guidance on vitamin K2 specifically.

A recent research paper, as discussed by WholeFoods Magazine, has argued that it is necessary for K2 to have a different recommendation to K1 due to the different role it plays on “the absorption, carboxylation efficacy of K2 on vitamin-K dependent proteins, and even non-carboxylated mediated processes that K1 lacks”.

The researchers who have worked on the paper have been working on validating the health importance of vitamin K2 for over two decades and this latest paper has been published in an effort to get food manufacturers and regulatory bodies alike to recognise the vital difference between the two forms of vitamin K; describing their work as for “the betterment of global human health”.

The importance of glycine

Glycine is a non-essential amino acid, meaning it is produced naturally in the body. Its primary role is to synthesise proteins but it also plays an important part in the development of healthy muscles, tissues and the skeleton.

With the amount of attention vitamin D is getting at the moment, it can be easy to forget there are a number of important nutrients for bone health, glycine being one of them. This article from News-Medical.net goes into detail on all the ways the body needs glycine, including the support of bone health through the production of insulin and insulin-like growth factor 1, along with the synthesis of collagen.

As well as supporting healthy bones, glycine is also reported to be beneficial for muscle, tissue and neurological support as well as having a positive effect on sleep. Numerous studies have looked into the effects of glycine on these different areas in the body and, while more research is needed, the findings are positive.

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Alison Astill-Smith author Alison is Director and Founder of Metabolics who writes about Metabolics updates, events and natural healthcare. Her experience and passion for natural supplements and healthcare comes from her years of experience as a practising osteopath, having founded Metabolics in her search for high quality, natural products in her own work. Alison has been a qualified and practising Osteopath since 1981 and regularly gives seminars on a range of healthcare subjects to the wider practitioner community helping share her knowledge and experience.