What is the Nutritional Value of Milk?

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  • Written By: Marie Cartwright
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 11 May 2019
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In Western society, milk is a basic part of many diets. Many discussions of the nutritional value of milk focus on its protein content and its calcium content. Many milks also are fortified with vitamins A and D, providing valuable nutrients that may otherwise be lacking in the diet.

One of the biggest components of the nutritional value of milk is its protein content. A single serving of milk, whether nonfat or whole, contains 8 grams of protein. The average adult requires from 40 grams to 70 grams of protein per day for energy, and nonfat milk can be a healthier source of protein than some other sources.

Calcium is almost certain to come up in any discussion of the nutritional value of milk. Dairy products are among the best sources of this bone-building mineral. Without a steady supply of calcium, a person may well develop osteoporosis as he or she ages. Per serving, milk delivers about 30 percent of an adult’s daily recommended calcium intake.


Milk also is a good source of vitamin D, which studies in the early 21st century are linking to immune system health. Vitamin D can be derived from exposing one’s skin to sunlight, but people trying to avoid skin cancers and premature aging of the skin avoid the sun. While sun avoidance has its own health benefits, it also can lead to lowered levels of vitamin D in the body. Milk makes up for some of that loss without the sun’s harmful side effects.

When consumed in the right amounts, one aspect of the nutritional value of milk is vitamin A, which is beneficial for the skin, the eyes and immune system function. Too little can damage one’s vision. At the same time, some studies have found that too much vitamin A can lead to an increase in the risk of bone fractures in older women. Others say the risk is only associated with particular forms of the vitamin. A serving of milk typically provides around 10 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A.

Milk comes with a variety of fat contents, from nonfat milk to whole milk, which has had none of its fat has been removed. Whole milk might taste good, but it also contains more calories and a high saturated-fat content. Some athletes and bodybuilders prefer whole milk, because its high caloric content aids in building muscle. For those who are less active or who have concerns about their weight, skim milk has just more than 100 calories a serving. Less than 10 percent of the daily recommended amount of saturated fat can be found in a serving of skim milk.

In some stores, goat’s milk can be found alongside traditional cow’s milk. Goat’s milk is a popular alternative dairy source for those who may have different nutritional needs. While goat’s milk is slightly higher in calories and saturated fat than cow’s milk, it is also higher in calcium. Those who have trouble digesting cow’s milk or who suffer from mild milk allergies often find goat’s milk is much easier on the stomach. This is mainly the result of a different protein structure.



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