Q. What is the difference between soy milk and regular milk?
A. Soy milk offers a nice alternative for individuals interested in a vegetarian diet, those who don’t like the taste of cow’s milk, individuals who are lactose intolerant, or for those wishing to try something new.
Soy milk is made from water-soaked soybeans that are ground up and then filtered. It is usually combined with a sweetener (often cane juice or rice syrup), stabilizers, and additional flavors. It is similar to cow’s milk in the proportion of protein and fat, although none of the soy fats are saturated, and it contains no cholesterol. The amount of carbohydrate or calories can vary depending on the amount of sweetener that is added, but it is often similar to that of cow’s milk. Many manufacturers enrich soy milk with additional calcium to resemble the levels in cow’s milk. Soy also contains isoflavones, which may be beneficial to health.
For children, soy milk is an acceptable alternative to cow’s milk; however, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends soy formula for infants only in cases of congenital galactosemia, for infants who are truly lactose intolerant (both extremely rare conditions), or for use by families who are strict vegans. Soy formula does not have any advantage over milk-based formula for the majority of infants and has no proven value in the prevention or treatment of colic or fussiness.
Tonia R. Cox, M.D., FAAP
Pediatric Diagnostic Associates
Memorial Health Partners
725 Glenwood Drive
Chattanooga, TN 37404
Ph. (423) 698-2229 (BABY)