Cereal and Milk – a Unique Contribution to the Daily Diet

  • Corn flakes with milk in a heart-shaped wooden bowl

Cereal and milk is a leading source of nutrients in people’s diets, making it one of the most nutrient dense choices for the number of calories it provides.1 A bowl of breakfast cereal and milk (which boosts calcium intake) makes an important nutritional contribution: a bowl of Kellogg’s breakfast cereal with milk provides at least 25% of recommended intake of 6 B-group vitamins (thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, folic acid), Vitamin D (in kids and family cereals) and at least 15% of the recommended intake for iron, and less than 300 kcal in every single bowl (with milk).

Protein: Cereal and milk provides protein to help rebuild losses from daily protein breakdown

Calcium: Breakfast is an important time for milk consumption particularly as breakfast cereal is often consumed with milk. Teenagers and adults who eat breakfast cereals regularly consume more milk at breakfast than others. Milk intake varies across the Arab Gulf - for example, just 37% of school-aged children in Bahrain are reported to consume milk daily2, compared to 49% of Omani women.3 Calcium is needed for the maintenance of healthy bones, and eating cereals with milk is an effective way of increasing daily calcium intake.

B-Group vitamins: Breakfast cereals can make a significant contribution to overall daily vitamin intakes. B-group vitamins are essential for a variety of functions in the body, including metabolism, cell development, and the maintenance of a healthy nervous system.

Vitamin D: Vitamin D helps absorb calcium, so it plays an important part role in bone growth and maintaining bone health. This is especially relevant in the UAE, where 78% of the population have a Vitamin D deficiency4, and KSA5 where studies show a high prevalence of Vitamin D deficiency despite adequate exposure to sunlight.6 Check the nutrition label on the breakfast cereal to ensure that it contains Vitamin D.

Iron: Iron-fortified breakfast cereals make a valid contribution to iron status - important throughout the Arab Gulf, where 25-35% of the population is affected by iron deficiency anaemia.7 Eating foods rich in Vitamin C with iron-rich foods improves iron absorption, so include an orange or a glass of orange juice for instance with breakfast cereal and milk to help enhance iron absorption. On the contrary, tea consumed at breakfast may decrease iron absorption.8

Click here to download a factsheet on Vital Vitamin D


  1. Papoutsou S et al (2014) The combination of daily breakfast consumption and optimal breakfast choices in childhood is an important public health message. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 65: 273-279
  2. Musaiger AO et al (2011) Dietary and lifestyle habits amongst adolescents in Bahrain Food & Nutrition Research 2011. 55 7122- DOI: 10.3402/fnr.v55i0.7122
  3. Musaiger AO et al (2005) Health and dietary habits among women in Oman. Bahrain Center for Studies and Research, Bahrain.
  4. Dubai Health Authority. Vitamin D. Accessed on line August 2014 at: https://www.dha.gov.ae/uploads/062022/Vitamin%20D%20(EN)2022614455.pdf
  5. Alissa EM et al (2011) Effect of diet and lifestyle factors on bone health in postmenopausal women. Journal of Bone and Mineral Metabolism 29: 725-735
  6. Elsammak MY (2011) High prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in the sunny Eastern region of Saudi Arabia: a hospital-based study. East Mediterranean Health Journal 17: 317-22
  7. Mirmiran P et al (2012) Iron, iodine and Vitamin A deficiency in the Middle East; a systematic review of Deficiency and Food Fortification. Iran J Pub Health 41: 8-19
  8. Zijp IM et al (2000) Effect of tea and other dietary factors on iron absorption. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 40: 371-98.

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