Nutrients in milk
Milk is a source of protein, vitamins B2 and B12 and the minerals calcium, phosphorus and potassium. Additionally, milk contains a mixture of nutrients that are important for various functions in the body.
What role does milk play in a healthy diet?
Milk and milk products have been included in the recommendations for a healthy diet all over the world. Milk is globally considered to be an important foodstuff for people in all stages of their lives, from childhood to adults and elderly.
Recommendations for milk and milk products
In the UK, milk and dairy foods, such as cheese, yoghurt and quark, are included in the food-based dietary guidelines, the 'Eat Well guide'. Public Health England in association with the Welsh Government, Food Standards Scotland and the Food Standards Agency in Northern Ireland have developed these recommendations for each food category.
Nutrient density of milk
Milk is considered as a food with a relatively high number of nutrients for the quantity of energy it provides, known as the nutrient density. What is the nutrient density exactly and how is this calculated?
Milk has a protein content of about 3.5%. Some dairy products contain more protein: for instance, dairy cheese spread contains on average over 11 g protein per 100 g and cheddar cheese an average of 25 g per 100 g. Protein contributes to the maintenance of normal bones and the growth and maintenance of muscle mass.
Quality of milk protein
Protein quality is determined on the basis of three characteristics, being: the quantity of protein in a foodstuff, the quantity of essential amino acids in the protein and the digestibility of the amino acids in the small intestine.
What is the difference between full-fat and skimmed dairy?
The main difference between full-fat milk and skimmed milk is the fat content and therefore the calorie content. The level of nutrients in milk is independent of the fat content, and equal in full and skimmed milk.
Lactose: the natural milk sugar
Lactose is naturally present in milk. the amount of lactose varies between dairy products. For example, yoghurt and buttermilk contain less lactose than milk and hard cheeses contain hardly any lactose.