Nutritional importance of milk

The nutritional value of milk is extremely high. We need milk from a very young age in order to build and sustain a strong and healthy body.

Milk contains a great variety of nutrients (proteins, carbohydrates, fats, minerals and vitamins) in large amounts which are directly available for absorption by the body.

The major importance of milk and its products on development and remaining healthy, throughout all stages of life (childhood, adolescence, adulthood), is underscored by the recommendations of the World Health Organisation that classify Dairy as a special food group, recommending the intake of 2 or 3 servings daily as part of a balanced diet.

Proteins make up the body’s main building block. They ensure that it functions well and that muscles develop properly. The intake of 2 glasses of milk a day covers 25% of an average person’s daily needs in proteins.

Milk is the only food in nature that contains casein, a protein of extremely high biological importance.
The nutritional value of casein surpasses the classical meaning of nutritive and extends to the functionality and effect on the body’s physiology and health. According to data from recent scientific studies, the properties of casein derived peptides include:

  • enhancing the body’s natural defence
  • regulating  blood pressure
  • helping to cope with stress

It has also been shown that peptides deriving from casein have sedative properties. This explains why most of us offer a glass of milk to a restless child.

Milk is the only food in nature that contains lactose, a carbohydrate which is a useful source of energy. Lactose is slowly broken down in the body into glucose and galactose and constitutes an important source of energy for the body.

The uniqueness of lactose is also due to the fact that the products of its decomposition (galactose) are used to make substances that constitute nutrients for children’s developing brain and nerves.[/one_half][one_half_last]Milk is an excellent source of vitamins
Milk contains fat-soluble as well as water-soluble vitamins.  Most foods, such as fruit and vegetables, contain mainly water-soluble vitamins while olive oil contains only fat-soluble ones.  Two glasses of milk cover an important part of daily needs in vitamins A, B12, B1, B3, Pantothenic acid.  As compared to other animal products, milk also contains a small amount of vitamin C, a valuable antioxidant and necessary for the formation and development of tissues.

  • Vitamin A helps development and vision.
  • The B complex vitamins are necessary for development, the nervous system and red blood cell formation.

The intake of dairy products is the body’s main source for the requisite amount of Calcium (e.g. 2 glasses of milk cover 75% of daily needs in Calcium).

Milk’s calcium content and the ease with which it is absorbed by the body, compared to the poor absorption of vegetable calcium sources, helps “build” and protect the skeleton from osteoporosis and keep teeth healthy.

Calcium is also useful:

  • in maintaining normal blood pressure
  • in transmitting nervous stimuli and contracting muscles

Does calcium spur weight loss?
Apart from the above properties of Calcium, recent studies show that the intake of 1000 – 1200 mg   of calcium (3-4 servings of semi and skimmed dairy products daily) seem to contribute to regulating body fat and weight loss.