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The Nutrition of Whole Milk

Whole milk has the same nutrition as other milks such as skimmed or 2%. The only aspect that is different in whole milk is the fat content. When milk is labeled in percentages that number refers to how much of its content is made up of butter fat. For example, whole milk contains approximately 3.25 percent of butterfat; 2 percent milk has 2 percent butterfat and skimmed does not have any. This article discusses five nutrition components of whole milk.


Vitamin D

Whole milk contains 40IU of vitamin D, which is 10 percent of the recommended daily amount for adults. Vitamin D is most notable for promoting bone growth and development. A deficiency of vitamin D can lead to rickets, a bone growth disorder (very uncommon in the United States). Vitamin D deficiency can also contribute to osteoporosis in elderly people. Vitamin D can also be an effective treatment for depression and anxiety disorders.


Whole milk has a high fat content. Whole milk contains approximately 8 grams of fat per 8 ounce glass. Five of the fat grams come from saturated fat. The fat content is the least nutritious aspect of whole milk. Saturated fat does not provide any health benefits. In fact, saturated fat is metabolized differently than other fats and causes plaque build-up in your arteries; this can cause high blood pressure and heart disease. Saturated fat can also cause weight gain and some types of cancer. The consumption of saturated fat should be limited, and if possible avoided altogether.


Whole milk contains 113mg of calcium per 8 pounce serving. Calcium is important for a variety of health reasons. Milk advertisements often discuss the importance of building strong teeth and bones. Your body needs a certain amount of calcium everyday in order to function properly. When you do not consume enough calcium, you body "takes" calcium from your bones. This is why it is important to get enough calcium. It is a lesser known fact that calcium plays a role in cardiovascular health. Researchers believe that calcium can decrease the risk of blood clots and stroke.


Whole milk contains approximately eight grams of protein per serving. Protein is important for muscle growth and development. Whole milk can be a good source of protein if you are trying to gain weight or are a vegetarian and do not obtain your protein from meat. It should be noted that fat free milk and 2 percent milk contain the same amount of protein as whole milk.


You have probably heard of the tryptophan in turkey, but you might not know that it is also found in whole milk. Tryptophan is an amino acid which is responsible for that sleepy feeling you get after a Thanksgiving dinner. The tryptophan found in whole milk is important in regulating mood through brain chemicals like serotonin. Tryptophan is also important for the production of some neurohormones.

While whole milk contains many important nutrients, its high saturated fat content makes it less appealing than other forms of milk, like skimmed. Unless you are trying to gain weight, whole milk should be consumed sparingly.  

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