• Wellness Workdays

Myth: Milk is Unhealthy


White milk being poured into a glass with a green, nature-like background.

Dairy alternatives are on the rise, which is overwhelming to some. You may wonder “what’s wrong with cows’ milk” or “is it really unhealthy?” Let’s take a deeper look into the myth of cow’s milk being unhealthy. Some people don’t realize that it has some great benefits to it!


Benefits of Milk

Milk is affordable and nutrient rich. It contains 13 essential nutrients including: calcium, protein, vitamin D, phosphorus, vitamin A, riboflavin, vitamin B12, pantothenic acid, niacin, zinc, selenium, iodine, and potassium. Let’s look and see what some of these nutrients do for us:

  • Calcium: helps keep bones and teeth strong and is required for muscle movement and nerve signals

  • Potassium: supports heart health and normal muscle functioning

  • Vitamin D: helps us absorb calcium and maintain a healthy immune system

  • Vitamin A: supports eye and skin health and helps maintain a heathy immune system

  • Vitamin B12: helps to keep body’s blood and nervous system healthy

  • Zinc: aids in immune system health and supports growth, development, and healthy skin

Calcium, potassium, and Vitamin D are all nutrients of public concern. luckily, milk is a leading food source of all 3 of them.


Dairy consumption, such as drinking milk, has been associated with lower risk of hip fracture in both adult men and women. It is also linked to improved bone health throughout childhood and into adulthood and an 8 percent lower risk of high blood pressure and stroke in adults.


Dietary Guidelines

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020 – 2025 the recommended daily intake for 9 – 18 years old, adults, older adults, and pregnant and lactating women is 3 cups/day. 2 -2 ½ cups/day is recommended for 2-8 years old, 1 2/3 - 2 cup/day for 12-23 months old.


It is recommended that choices be fat-free or low-fat. This can include milk, yogurt, cheese, and fortified soy beverages.


The Nutritional Breakdown:

Whole Milk

(3.25 % fat)

2% Milk

1% Milk

Fat Free Milk

Calories

150 kcal

~120 kcal

~106 kcal

~80 kcal

Protein (g)

8g

8g

8g

8g

Carbs (g)

12g

12g

12g

12g

Fat (g)

8g

5g

2.5g

0.1g

Note: Based on an 8 oz (1 cup) serving and numbers are approximations, there can be slight differences.


When looking at the nutritional breakdown it’s important to note that the main difference is the amount of fat in each type and the number of calories.


Milk Alternatives

Milk alternatives are a great option to choose when:

  • You have an allergy or intolerance to cow’s milk

  • It’s your personal/ethical decision

  • You have a medical reason

When milk alternatives are used, it’s important to keep in mind plant-based milks tend to be lower in nutrients than cows’ milk. Cows’ milk is high in nutrients including protein, vitamin D, calcium, and phosphorus. For example, a popular option is almond milk – it only contains 1 g of protein per cup whereas most cows’ milk contains 8 g of protein per cup.


To learn more about milk alternatives check out this blog. To learn more about how plant based milks compare to cows’ milk check out this article.


Learn more about Wellness Workdays and our wellness program offerings by downloading our brochure.


Written by Kelly Catlin, Wellness Workdays Intern


Sources:

Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020 – 2025

National Dairy Council

National Dairy Council

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Virginia School of Medicine