How many glasses of milk should you consume per day?

In this brief guide, we will answer ‘how many glasses of milk should you consume per day?’ Also, we will look into milk’s nutritional and functional profile.

How many glasses of milk should you consume per day?

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends including three 8-ounce servings of milk daily (or equal portions of other dairy foods like cheese or yogurt), which is justified to increase calcium intake and reduce the risk of osteoporosis and fractures (1).

However, there are some studies that go against it. Risks are associated with milk intakes of 3 to 4 servings per day, but not with cheese or yogurt (1). 

Is drinking too much milk harmful for you?

Based on this study, it suggests that drinking too much milk may be harmful to you. This study claims that drinking 3 or more than 3 glasses of milk per day may increase your risk of fracture particularly hip fractures and also doubles your risk of death.

The culprit here might be galactose – a monosaccharide that is broken down from lactose (milk sugar). This compound is associated with increased oxidative stress and low-grade inflammation. Experimental evidence in several animal species indicates that chronic exposure to galactose is deleterious to health and the addition of galactose by injections or in the diet is an established animal model of aging. Even a low dose of galactose induces changes that resemble natural aging in animals, including shortened life span caused by oxidative stress damage, chronic inflammation, neurodegeneration, decreased immune response, and gene transcriptional changes (2).

This study suggests that being an adult you need to limit your dairy intake to a glass of milk or a single serving of dairy.

The study revealed that the risk estimates of the outcomes associated with consumption of cheese or fermented milk products were in the opposite direction of estimates associated with milk consumption. Thus women with a high intake of cheese or fermented milk products compared with women with low intakes had lower mortality and fracture rates. For each serving the rate of mortality and hip fractures was reduced by 10-15% (2).

Despite this, if you are eating a well-balanced diet already and you are also trying to include 3 servings of dairy over your balanced diet, it may lead to overconsumption than your required need of many vitamins and minerals. Particularly calcium, in excess calcium leads to stone formation in your kidney. So it’s best to keep your dairy intake to 1 – 2 servings a day.

How to tell if you are drinking too much milk?

Since it is established that drinking too much milk may be harmful, here are some signs through which your body signifies that you are drinking too much milk;

You may experience digestive issues – people who are sensitive to lactose (not to be confused with lactose intolerant) having too much of it in their gut can lead to a ‘leaky gut’ – a condition when bacteria and toxins are able to leak through the intestinal walls.

This occurs when the protease inhibitors within milk can lead to an imbalance of digestive enzymes or overproduction of trypsin, which destroys the connection between intestinal cells.

You are constantly tired – having too much of something than its need may make you tired and lethargic (6).

You may suffer from acne – feeding too of something your body can’t tolerate, will lead to inflammation and that inflammation is exhibited on your skin too just like acne (5).

You may have a decreased bone mass – Although calcium is needed for healthy bones, too much milk leads to inflammation due to the high intake of lactose and therefore of galactose. A study suggests that too much inflammation can compromise your bone health and may also make them brittle (2).

You may experience symptoms of cardiovascular disease – based on a study  drinking too much milk increases your risk of cardiovascular disease and exposes you to a number of types of cancers. Trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO) is a metabolite of carnitine, choline, and phosphatidylcholine, which are present in food of animal origin. US scientists observed that cardiovascular patients with higher concentrations of TMAO have a higher risk for major adverse cardiovascular events such as death, myocardial infarction, or stroke than patients with low TMAO concentrations (3). 

What is the nutrient profile of milk?

We have heard from a young age that milk is packed with calcium, vitamin and animal proteins needed to have good health and proper growth. Here’s a peek at a single serving 1 cup or 244 gm of milk (1);

Calories146 kcal
Proteins8 grams
Fat8 grams
Calcium28% of RDI (recommended daily intake)
Vitamin D24% of RDI (recommended daily intake)
Riboflavin (B2)26% of RDI (recommended daily intake)
Vitamin B1218% of RDI (recommended daily intake)
Potassium10% of RDI (recommended daily intake)
Phosphorous22% of RDI (recommended daily intake)
Selenium13% of RDI (recommended daily intake)

What are the health benefits of milk?

Following are the health benefits provided by milk;

Nutritious meal

Milk is considered as a complete source of nutrition as it is packed with a wide array of nutrients including minerals, vitamins, proteins, healthy fats and antioxidants.

Good source of quality proteins

Milk protein contains all of the essential amino acids needed by the body. It helps to reduce age-related muscle loss and promotes muscle repair after exercise. Both soluble (whey) and insoluble (casein) proteins are considered to be of high quality. The amino acid profile of whey is especially rich in branched chain amino acids, i.e., leucine, isoleucine, and valine as well as lysine, whereas casein has a higher proportion of histidine, methionine, and phenylalanine. Milk proteins and several bioactive peptides resulting from their enzymatic hydrolysis have shown multiple biological roles that could exert a protective action in human health. These main biological actions include antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, antioxidant, antihypertensive, antimicrobial, antithrombotic, opioid, and immunomodulatory roles, in addition to improving absorption of other nutrients (4).

Promotes bone health

Milk contains a variety of bone supporting nutrients that are thought to influence production and maintenance of bone matrix such as high biological value protein, vitamins C, D, and K, as well as minerals like copper, manganese, and zinc,  in addition to calcium. This promotes better bone health (4).

Helps you gain weight

Adding milk, particularly whole milk, may help you gain weight. As whole milk contains all the essential nutrients needed by the body. However, some studies have suggested that milk whey proteins can exert interesting effects in glycemic control and insulin response, as well as in satiety, which would help decrease excessive food intake and thus prevent weight gain (4).

For a deeper insight into milk nutritional and health profiles, please refer here or here.


In this brief guide, we answered ‘how many glasses of milk should you consume per day?’ Also, we have looked into milk’s nutritional and functional profile.

Hope you found this guide helpful. If you have any comments or questions, please do let us know.


  1. Milk. The Nutrition Source. School of Public Health. University of Harvard. 2022.
  2. Michaëlsson, Karl, et al. Milk intake and risk of mortality and fractures in women and men: cohort studies. Bmj, 2014, 349.
  3. Rohrmann, Sabine, et al. Plasma concentrations of trimethylamine-N-oxide are directly associated with dairy food consumption and low-grade inflammation in a German adult population. J nutr, 2016, 146, 283-289.
  4. Pereira, Paula C. Milk nutritional composition and its role in human health. Nutrition, 2014, 30, 619-627.
  5. Dattner, Alan M. Cross-reactive inflammation to milk as a causal factor in acne. J Hum Nutr Food Sci, 2016, 4, 1096.
  6. Rowe, Peter C., et al. Cow’s milk protein intolerance in adolescents and young adults with chronic fatigue syndrome. Acta Paed, 2016, 105, e412-e418.