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We all started with milk. If not mama's milk, than supplement milk. So, it must be something good about it. In this article we will discover why milk is considered a complete and ideal food infants and why is so beneficial for children and adults.

All over the world milk is being considered as complete and ideal food: milk namely contains most of the principles of a well balanced diet. And not only raw milk- there are number of products that are used in our daily diet:butter, cheese, yogurt, paneer, etc.
According to the National Academy of Sciences, children and adults should drink 24 oz. of milk each day, actually teens should drink even more. Here follows explanation.

Minerals. Important minerals in milk are calcium, phosphorous, sodium and potassium.

Milk is one of the richest  sources of calcium. And as we all know calcium helps build and maintain strong bones, it's also importanta for nerve function, muscle contraction, and blood clotting. Phosphorus helps generate energy in the body's cells and influences bone mineralization, the strengthening of bones. Potassium is needed for muscle activity and contractions and it also regulates the body's fluid balance and blood pressure. Sodium is mineral that found only in small quantities in most natural foods, for example sodium high levels can cause high blood pressure and some other problems, and again if it's found in too low levels, other problems occur. Sodium is vital component of nerves as it stimulates muscle contraction. Sodium also helps to keep calcium and other minerals soluble in the blood, for that reason its role in every food is essential. Sodium also helps stimulating the adrenal glands and aids in preventing heat prostration or sunstroke. 

On the other hand milk is a poor source of iron, for that reason infant's diet must be added iron supplements in order to prevent anaemia.

Milk is rich source of vitamins: it contains valuable amounts of vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin and niacin, it also contains vitamin D and B12 (which is absent in vegetarian diet), but is a poor source of vitamin C and E.

Vitamin A is important for regulating cell growth and integrity of the immune system, it is also known that vitamin A  helps maintaining normal vision and skin. Thiamine or vitamin B1 helps with growth, digestion and maintaining healthy nerves and brain function, and maintains energy levels. Riboflavin or vitamin B2 helps produce energy in the body's cells and plays a vital role in the development of the nervous system.  Niacin or vitamin B3 keeps is as most vitamin of B group essential for development of the nervous system; besides that is keeps enzymes functioning normally and helps the body process sugars and fatty acids. Vitamin D promotes the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, and influences bone mineralization, the strengthening of bones, while B12 is essential for the growth and health of the nervous system and is linked to normal activity of folic acid and is involved in blood formation.

Protein in (cow's) milk is important for a number of bodily functions: protein is vital to brain development and the growth of body tissues. The protein content of cows and buffalo milk is about 3.2gm and 4.25gm per 100ml; in addition the milk proteins mainly consist of casein (about 80%) and whey (about 20 %). That means that proteins in milk have high biological value, and most of all different than is one of human milk: casein combined with calcium exists in milk in colloidal form and this is known as caseinogen. The addition of rennet or fermentation of milk leads to precipitation of insoluble calcium caseinate curds. For that reason there is a higher proportion of calcium and casein in animal milk (comparing to human milk) and hence the curds are harder and more difficult to digest than human milk.
Cow's milk provides approximately 67 calories per 100 ml. For example, calories in plane yogurt may be the same or a bit higher (69 calories per 100 ml) than the number of calories in milk, but yogurt is much easier to digest comparing to milk. 

There is a difference in fat level in skimmed (skimmed milk or non fat milk must by law contain less than 0, 5% lik fat) or milk that is not skimmed. Fat in milk is represented in the form of glycerides in emulsified form which can be separated by allowing milk to stand for some time after boiling, the fat rises to the surface as cream. When this cream is eliminated we get skimmed milk: milk that contains lower levels of fat. Most raw cow milk contains four percent or higher milk fat. Actually, percentage of milk fat varies based on the type of cow that produced the milk and other variables such as type of feed and time of year. Whole milk is the milk as it came from the cow and contains approximately 3.5% milk fat, while low-fat milk is available in two types: 2% fat, where 98% of the fat has been removed, and 1%, where 99% of fat has been removed. 1 cup of milk contains 2, 4 g fat (which is 3% of the content); in addition two third of fat in milk is saturated and one third is unsaturated.    

Milk also contains carbohydrates: one cup of whole milk contains 11, 3 g, while low fat or skimmed milk contain slightly higher levels- up t 11, 9 g, which leads to conclusion that milk is a great way to load up on quality carbs, but better choose low fat milk because of fat levels whole milk contains.  
Water is an essential part of milk structure: milk contains 85% water, which means milk is rich source of food, but also water.

Milk and diseases

  • Hypertension

Many studies suggest that fat-free of at least low fat milk helps reduce the risk of hypertension, of course as a part of low-fat diet. 

  • Bone health

All diary products, including milk, yogurt, kefir etc. help maintain healthy bones and ensure that you're not loosing bone density. Consequently, diary products are essential for people who suffer from osteoporosis.  

  • Colon cancer

Studies show that low fat milk and other diary products may help reduce the risk of colon cancer. Yogurt or kefir are in this case especially recommended because they are both easier to digest comparing to milk.