Almond milk is a food generally associated with health benefits. Its protein content is lower in quantity to milk and has fewer fat and calories. It is also easier to store without spoilage. But almond milk can present risks for people with low thyroid function. It also is an inadequate substitute for infant formula.
The greatest documented risk of almond milk is replacing it for breast milk or infant formula. Because it contains only extract of almond in water, almond "milk" does not provide adequate nutrition for infants.
In 1991, an infant that had been fed primarily almond milk from the age of 2 1/2 months was diagnosed with low bone density, nutritional rickets, low muscle tone, and a visible goitre. All were traced to nutritional deficiency.
Severe iodine deficiency causes goitre, such as the one observed in the infant described above. Almonds are known goitrogens, which means they contain chemicals that inhibit thyroid function by interfering with iodine intake.
Many foods generally considered to be healthy are also goitrogenic. This includes cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower, spinach, soya peanuts and almonds.
While people with hypothyroidism are advised to avoid goitrogens. The goitrogenic effects are negated by cooking or light steaming. Most almond milk is produced raw, and can be heated to prevent any potential goitrogenic effects.