For thousands of years, milk has been a source of food for infants, children, and adults. Milk of domesticated animals, especially cows, buffaloes, goats, and sheep, is used for human consumption, either as such or in the form of dairy products (yogurt, butter, cheese). Milk has high nutritional value as it contains carbohydrates, proteins, fat, vitamins, and minerals. But did you know that milk is 80-90% water?
Milk contains about 5% of carbohydrates in the form of lactose which provides energy.
The protein in milk is considered as ‘complete’ protein as it contains all of the essential amino acids. About 80% of milk protein is called casein and it can increase the absorption of minerals, such as calcium and phosphorus. The reminder whey protein reduces blood pressure and is a popular muscle building supplement (bodybuilders take note!).
The cow’s milk has about 3-4% fat while the buffalo milk is 7-8% fat. The energy is stored in the form of fat and acts as a buffer between the organs. The fat in the form of linoleic and linolenic acids is essential for the synthesis of hormones that are responsible for blood clotting (wound healing) and the immune system.
Milk is also a good source of vitamins B2 (35% daily requirement value (DRV)) and B12 (45% DRV). Adequate vitamin D levels support the production of serotonin, a hormone associated with mood and sleep. Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with depression, chronic fatigue, and PMS. Since milk is a regular drink across the world, it is fortified with Vitamin D due to prevalent deficiency. Vitamin D and calcium help in teeth and bone building and prevent osteoporosis.
Calcium also has a role in muscle contraction, nerve transmission, and blood clotting. Phosphorous helps in maintaining body pH, storage and transfer of energy, and nucleotide synthesis. Small amounts of minerals – copper, iron, manganese, potassium magnesium, selenium, and zinc are found in milk and these minerals help the body use carbohydrates, protein, and fat.
A small glass of milk (100 mL) fulfils a partial daily requirement of carbohydrates, proteins, fat, vitamins and minerals. Well, if you don’t like to drink milk, it can be substituted with derived products such as cheese, butter, paneer and yogurt. Milk is the easiest source of wholesome nutrition. Drink up milk!