Is Milo Really A Healthy Drink?

May 11 200914 Commented

Categorized Under: Health food nutrition

milo nestle

Nestle Milo Food Drink

We all love Milo

I don’t know about you, but I love the taste of MILO mixed with milk (as well as eaten off the spoon, directly from the container!) I remember as a child heaping 2 or 3 big tablespoons full of MILO into my cup, stirring in some milk and then adding some extra MILO onto the top, so I could end up with the chocolate mustache, like the boy in the MILO advertisement on TV.

Umm, what fond thoughts of this chocolaty goodness!? But is it really as good for us as Nestlé would have us believe? And what about all those added nutrients?

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Milo for everyone? 

I’ve seen babies with MILO in their bottle and what could be wrong with this? Don’t 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 childrens daily nutritional needs, the child may end up becoming nutrient deficient, let alone all the caffeine they will be receiving in each cup full.

Nestles 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 tbls 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 15 grams 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!”

How much Milo do you add to a cup?

Milo cup

Milo cup

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 10 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 (probably the added sugar too).

Milo and Nutrients

Heart Foundation Tick

Heart Foundation Tick

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 absorbing the nutrients that have been added to it.

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14 Responses to “Is Milo Really A Healthy Drink?”

  1. kamal says:

    I think the claim you make with regards to the caffeine content in Milo is terribly misleading. The numbers that you quoted were for 100g of Milo powder as opposed to 100ml of Red Bull drink. Surely nobody uses 100g to make a cup of Milo. I am baffled as to how you managed to overlook the 3rd column of the same chart, i.e. “mg per serving”. This would surely make for a much better comparison, though I would concede that the serving size mentioned seems a bit small. In this column it says that 1 serving of Red Bull contains 80mg of caffeine, whereas a serving of Milo contains only 2.2mg.

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  2. Hone says:

    Forgive me for the necro here but IMHO you make it sound like each cup of Milo contains 36.7mg of caffeine.

    Not sure if this was your intention and I can understand how choices of words can create misunderstandings. It’s just that I wanted to write something here to avoid any misunderstandings people may have when doing research and coming across your article.

    If you have a look at that document you linked you see it lists also lists the amount of caffeine per serving size. It tells us that in 6g of milo powder is 2.2 mg of caffeine.

    You said above that you asked around and find out that a more accurate serving size would be at least 30g.

    So to be more accurate in the average heaped serving size the caffeine amount would be at least 11 mg. From the table that’s over the amount of caffeine in a percolated 140ml cup of Coffee or the same as one 50g bar of Milk Chocolate.

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  3. Emmie Penny says:

    Rather efficiently written.

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  4. Tui says:

    agreed. thanx guys. My 2 littlies have just taken to it but we only drink trim milk and they do have their 3 teaspoons. I checked the web to see if this was ok thinking full cream would be better…very happy I checked this blog. thanks all.

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  5. Nive says:

    Great video, thanks for the information. Although I note that the standard product is made largely from malted barley, while on the website it clearly states that milo provides protein when consumed with milk (as one would expect) and that the protein comes from the milk. It is interesting to also note that the product is endorsed as low G.I through the University of Sydney public health programme and in association with Diabetes Australia. The info above on caffeine is also correct on review.
    Keep up the good work!

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  6. fred johnson says:

    Milo does not contain Caffeine, I am allergic to caffeine and have never had the terrible symptoms I suffer form a cup of coffee or tea.

    I think you have your facts WRONG

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    • Johann van Staden says:

      I comletely agree with Fred. I too am allergic to caffeine, and Milo is pretty much the only hot drink i can take without any complications. If i have ONE cup of coffee i can feel it buggering up my system, but not with Milo.

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  7. julia says:

    I am low in iron so I have started drinking Milo every morning but this gives me diarrhea. does anybody have this problem?

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  8. Jake says:

    You’ve completely misquoted the Heart Foundation document you refer to “Check it out for yourself, on page 10 of this document.” here.

    Instead of the mg of Caffeine in 100ml (of straight milo – not milk) You should be looking at the caffeine per serving. 6g of Milo per serving which equates to 2.2mg of Caffeine. As apposed to 66mg of Caffiene per serving of instant coffee.

    Soooo Milo ACTUALLY has 33 times less caffeine per serving than instant coffee.

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  9. Ryan says:

    My morning cup of Milo contains upwards of 60mg of caffeine. I use it as the sweetener in my French pressed Starbucks coffee. I wont give up my caffeine and if my Milo adds an extra bit of caffeine AND healthy stuff than I just became a customer for life! Milo’s carbs are a great way to start your day with some energy too, good brain food. Just dont add the milk… The amount of protein in a cup of milk isn’t enough to offset all the simple sugar added to make it tasty. Eat eggs for your protein.

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  10. Shaun says:

    I mix Milo with my oatmeal.

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  11. Matt says:

    I can eat half a 400g tin in one session easily, I love Milo!

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  12. Celine says:

    I am all hands up for healthy drinks for my kids but i doubt that Milo is an essential source for a start of the day. The cocoa and sugar in the 3 in 1 pack definitely not healthy for kids in this generation. Why worry about carb when every ‘new’ diet consume nowadays has high carb!!

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  13. John Diamond says:

    I think the numbers aren’t addind up for milo and instant. Firstly milo has more caffeine than instant coffee per 100mls. Then when shown the serving size of both milo is shown to have considerably less? ? Why is this? My other complaint is who uses 6gms of milo per serving? I don’t understand the numbers at the end but do have concerns feeding milo to children.

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