What element makes milk good for your health?

In this brief article, we will provide you with the answer to the question: “What element makes milk good for your health?”, discuss the types of cow’s milk and also talk about plant-based milk. 

What element makes milk good for your health?

Milk has several elements that are good for health, it is a high-protein, calcium-rich beverage that is essential for preventing osteoporosis and maintaining muscle mass. 

Milk differs depending on how it is produced, and in addition to cow’s milk, there are plant-based beverages known as vegetable milk, which are manufactured from grains such as soy, chestnuts, and almonds.

It is also an important source of: Riboflavin, phosphorus, vitamins A and B12, potassium, magnesium, and zinc.

Whole cow’s milk, or milk with its original fat, provides the following health advantages when consumed on a regular basis: 

  • It can help prevent osteoporosis since it is high in calcium and includes vitamin D.
  • Because it is high in protein, it aids in muscular building.
  • It includes oligosaccharides, which are nutrients consumed by the good bacteria present in the colon, hence it helps to improve the intestinal microbiota.
  • Because it is high in vitamin B complex, it helps the neurological system work better.
  • Because it is heavy in amino acids with anti-hypertensive characteristics, it can help regulate high blood pressure.

Whole milk includes the vitamins A, E, K, and D found in milk fat. Skim milk, on the other hand, loses essential nutrients since it has no fat.(1, 2)

Are all types of milks equally good for health?

No, the types of milk are not equally good for health. Milk fat content has been the subject of much debate.

Despite not clear evidence on the pejorative effect of saturated fat in cardiovascular health, together with the continuous concerns of the consumer when searching low-fat and lower-calorie products, the minimal risk has motivated the dairy industry to create lower-fat content milk versions.

Milk fat can vary from 0.2% to 3.5%. An intermediate product, the semi-skimmed milk version, has 1.6% of fat.(1)

There are also many factors that can impact milk quality. Milk-fat composition can be altered through the nutrition of dairy cows, and possibly by selective breeding. For milk-fat percentage, around half of the observed variation between cows is estimated to be due to genetic variation (5)

Both the concentration and composition of milk fat are influenced by the diet. Concentration is reduced by feeding diets that contain large proportions of readily-fermentable carbohydrates (starch) and unsaturated fat.

Conversely, the percentage of fat in milk can be increased by feeding rumen-inert fats. In ruminants, in contrast with non-ruminants, dietary fats have little effect on milk fat composition. Nevertheless, subtle changes in composition and manufacturing functionality can be affected by feeding different fats.(6) 

The processing operations like thermal treatment, chemical treatment, biochemical processing, physical treatments, nonconventional treatments, etc. may exert positive or negative influence on nutritional quality of milk proteins. 

On one side, processing enhances the nutritive and therapeutic values of protein while on other side intermediate or end products generated during protein reactions may cause toxicity and/or antigenicity upon consumption at elevated level. (7)

What elements make plant-based milks good for your health?

The elements make plant-based milks good for your health varies, according to the composition of the plant-based milk, the advantages of choosing plant-based milk are numerous:

It is low in harmful fats; is high in healthy fats (mono and polyunsaturated); has a balanced dosage of salt and potassium; is an ally against constipation and bad cholesterol, and has a low glycemic index (blood sugar).

In addition to its nutritional value, vegetable milk has the benefit of being made from a variety of grains, oilseeds, fruits, and tubers, resulting in a variety of tastes.

They are high in minerals and vitamins, and they aid in the healthy functioning of the body, particularly in people with digestive or viral issues.

Vegetable milk is a beverage created by crushing grains with water. In addition to coconut vegetable drinks, the most popular vegetable beverages are prepared from grains such as soy, rice, chestnuts, and almonds. 

It is crucial to note, however, that each of these beverages has its own set of nutrients and advantages that are not comparable to those of cow’s milk. 

You may select what works best for you and, of course, you should always diversify your consumption to consume different minerals and vitamins, taking advantage of the unique advantages of each form of plant-based milk. (4)

What is the health role of milk protein?

In addition to its contribution to protein intake, milk is a valuable source of proteins with multiple functional roles and some have potential protective effects in health.

Soluble proteins consist of whey proteins which are 20% of the protein fraction, whereas the insoluble proteins are known as caseins and represent 80% of milk protein.

Both can have different effects in blood amino acid levels due to the differences in digestion and absorption rates. This also affects their influence in protein synthesis, which can have a major impact in muscle hypertrophy in sports practice and in muscle wasting prevention (1)

What is the health role of milk fatty acids?

Milk fat content has been the subject of much debate. 

Despite not clear evidence on the pejorative effect of saturated fat in cardiovascular health, together with the continuous concerns of the consumer when searching low-fat and lower-calorie products, the minimal risk has motivated the dairy industry to create lower-fat content milk versions. 

Milk is commonly referred to as a conjugated linoleic acid source, which is a group of octadecadienoic isomers derived from linoleic acid, which result from biohydrogenation reactions performed by ruminant animals’ gastrointestinal microbiota. 

This group of fatty acids has been deserving additional attention due to their health benefits in the cardiovascular system, immune function, in addition to anticancer properties and hypolipidemic effects (1)

What is the health role of milk Vitamins and Minerals?

Milk has always been recognized as a valuable source of specific micronutrients, mainly calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin B2. Other micronutrients can be found such as magnesium, zinc, and selenium.

The main role attributed to calcium is related to bone health, in fact it is important to note that calcium has a crucial role in the formation of peak bone mass from childhood until the end of adolescence and the beginning of adulthood.

Vitamin A is known by its importance in growth, development, immunity, and eye health

Vitamin D has several benefits, namely anticarcinogenic, cardioprotective, and immunomodulatory effects and, nevertheless, is crucial in calcium absorption, thus in bone mass formation, and can be determinant in osteoporosis prevention

B complex vitamins are important enzymatic cofactors and participate in several metabolic pathways like energy production from nutrients, neurotransmitter, and hormone synthesis.(1)

What elements in milk are possibly not good for your health?

The elements that possibly may harm your health are due to Milk not being a food easily digested and absorbed by all, since there are metabolic diseases and allergies, for which the main treatment is the exclusion of milk from the diet, such as lactose intolerance and cow’s milk protein allergy. 

About 75% of the world’s population has symptoms of lactose intolerance.

Lactose intolerance affects people of all ages due to the deficiency of lactase enzyme, causing poor digestion of lactose, and as a consequence, some symptoms such as flatulence, abdominal pain, and diarrhea after ingesting milk and dairy products.

Unlike intolerance, cow’s milk protein allergy occurs mainly in the first three years of life. This allergy is a reaction of the body against the protein components of milk, which causes the release of antibodies, histamines and other defensive agents. (2)


In this brief article, we provided you with the answer to the question: “What element makes milk good for your health?”, discussed the types of cow’s milk, and also talked about plant-based milk. 


  1. Pereira, P. C., & Vicente, F.  Milk Nutritive Role and Potential Benefits in Human Health. Nutrients in Dairy and Their Implications on Health and Disease, 161–176. 2017.
  2. Silva, A. R. A., Silva, M. M. N., & Ribeiro, B. D.  Health Issues and Technological Aspects of Plant-based Alternative Milk. Food Research International, 108972. 2020.
  3. Augustin, M. A., Clarke, P. T., & Craven, H.  POWDERED MILK | Characteristics of Milk Powders. Encyclopedia of Food Sciences and Nutrition, 4703–4711. 2003.
  4. Reyes-Jurado, F., et. al. Plant-Based Milk Alternatives: Types, Processes, Benefits, and Characteristics. Food Reviews International, 1–32, 2021
  5. Van Arendonk, J. A. M., van Valenberg, H. J. F., & Bovenhuis, H.  Exploiting genetic variation in milk-fat composition of milk from dairy cows. Improving the Safety and Quality of Milk, 197–222. 2010.
  6. Palmquist, D. L. (n.d.). Milk Fat: Origin of Fatty Acids and Influence of Nutritional Factors Thereon. Advanced Dairy Chemistry Volume 2 Lipids, 43–92. 2006.
  7. Borad SG, Kumar A, Singh AK. Effect of processing on nutritive values of milk protein. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 57(17).2017.

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