Milk 101 Nutrition Facts and Health Effects

Medically Reviewed on 8/17/2022
Milk 101 Nutrition Facts
Low-fat dairy products without added sugar can be a healthy complement to any diet.

Milk is a common item that is enjoyed in a variety of ways worldwide. A mother's milk is the first food humans are given after birth. We continue to consume milk and milk products from cows, buffalo, and goats as adults.

Protein and calcium, two very important elements that the body uses for growth and maintenance, are found in milk. Additionally, milk is a source of many minerals and micronutrients, which our bodies need.

What is the nutrition content of milk?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has provided the following nutritional data for one cup (eight ounces) of reduced fat (two percent) milk:

Table. The nutritional content of milk (one cup; 8 ounces)
Nutrient Amount
Calories 122
Fat 4.6 grams
Sodium 95 mg
Carbohydrates 12 grams
Fiber 0 grams
Sugars 12 grams
Protein 8 grams
Calcium 307 mg

What are the nutrients found in milk?


Milk is an abundant carb source because of its lactose content. Milk has a low glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL) despite its carb content. GI and GL of one cup of two percent milk are both 27.


At eight grams per cup, milk is a good source of protein. All nine of the necessary amino acids that humans require are present in milk proteins.

Milk contains 18 percent of whey protein and 82 percent of casein protein. Although milk coagulates, as it does when making cheese, it separates. If you need to avoid dairy, look for “casein” and “whey” on food labels because these protein isolates are used in many other food products.

Minerals and vitamins

Milk is extremely abundant in:

  • Calcium
  • Phosphorus
  • Riboflavin
  • Vitamin B12

Additionally, milk in the United States is fortified with vitamin D.

In addition, it is a good source of:

  • Zinc
  • Pantothenic acid
  • Selenium
  • Potassium
  • Thiamine


Nonfat milk has the fewest calories per cup (90), whereas whole milk has the highest (149), making it a useful source of protein for people following a low-calorie diet. Be aware that milk with flavors or added sugar probably has more calories than milk without them.


According to the USDA, there is no difference between a “portion” and a “serving.” See Answer

5 health benefits of milk

The human body requires the good health components included in milk, which also aid in avoiding several chronic illnesses.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises consuming dairy products as part of a healthy diet. Calcium, protein, and vitamin D are all components of milk and other dairy products that support healthy bones and muscles. The FDA suggests selecting dairy products with less fat and no sugar or sweetener added.

Five health benefits of milk include:

  1. Strengthening bone density: Milk and other dairy products provide calcium and vitamin D, both of which are crucial for strong, healthy bones and may help prevent osteoporosis (weakening of the bones that can cause fractures). Consuming dairy products during adolescence and childhood is associated with a lower incidence of osteoporosis in later life.
  2. Reduces the risk of hypertension: A link between poor dairy consumption, osteoporosis, and hypertension (high blood pressure) was discovered in the research of more than 3,000 women. A review study reported that taking calcium supplements marginally lowers blood pressure in people who do not have hypertension, suggesting that they may have a preventive effect.
  3. May reduce cancer risk: There is conflicting evidence about calcium's potential to lower the risk of certain types of cancer, such as breast, ovarian, and colorectal. Overall, however, calcium from dairy products and dietary supplements may provide some defense against these malignancies.
  4. Strengthening muscle mass and performance: Older women (aged 70 to 85 years) who consumed 2.2 servings or more of milk, yogurt, and cheese per day showed improved body composition and physical performance than those who had 1.5 servings or less. Milk consumption after resistance training increased muscle mass and strength and reduced fat in younger women.
  5. Weight-controlling aid: According to the results of certain studies, which included more than 18,000 women older than 45 years who began at a healthy weight, eating dairy products may assist women in this age range avoid weight gain.

What are the side effects of milk on health?

Milk may not be advised in individuals:

  • Who follows a vegan or paleo lifestyle.
  • Who have acne-prone skin.
  • Who possess a sensitivity or allergy to casein (milk protein) or lactose (the sugar found in milk).
  • Who have reservations about dairy farming practices and how they may affect the environment and have reservations regarding the likelihood that milk may contain hormones such as estrogen.

Some claim that humans are the only species that continue to consume milk after weaning, suggesting that drinking milk is needless and unnatural.

Artificial hormones present in milk

Some people are concerned that estrogen and growth hormones found in dairy milk may hurt them.

In 2016, scientists discovered that mice exposed to high levels of estrogen in milk experienced hormonal abnormalities. Estrogen levels were far higher than what is typically found in cow's milk.

Scientists have not yet discovered any evidence to support the idea that the hormones in dairy milk can harm humans.


According to some research, drinking a lot of milk may make you more likely to get some form of cancer

Dairy alternatives are available for people who do not want to drink milk.


Foods That Aren't as Healthy as You Think See Slideshow

What are the sensitivities, intolerances, and allergies related to milk?

Milk is consumed by many people without any negative consequences. Others, however, can experience a negative response.

A milk sensitivity/allergy

Lactose intolerance differs from a milk allergy. A person who has a milk allergy may experience an aberrant immunologic reaction if they consume milk, in which case their immune system will manufacture allergic antibodies such as immunoglobulin E.

Milk consumption for these individuals may result in the following:

A strong allergic reaction may cause abrupt, lethal anaphylactic shock. A person needs immediate medical assistance if they begin to swell or have trouble breathing after touching or ingesting milk.

If you have a milk allergy, you should stay away from dairy foods including butter, whey, yogurt, and cheese.

Intolerance to lactose

Some individuals struggle to digest milk because they do not produce enough of lactase enzymes. Lactose, a sugar found in milk, is broken down by lactase. This may occasionally only be a short-term issue, for instance, if you have an infection.

Consuming milk can make someone with lactose sensitivity experience bloating, gas or diarrhea.

However, each person has a different level of lactose intolerance. Although some people might be able to eat yogurt and hard cheese, which contain a tiny amount of lactose, others might not be able to consume even a drop of milk in their coffee.

Enzymes have been added to lactose-free milk to aid with lactose digestion. This could reduce or get rid of the symptoms.

Sensitivity to casein

Milk contains the protein casein. Consuming milk might cause digestive and generalized inflammation in people who are sensitive to casein.

A nutritionist is available to anyone who thinks dairy products might be the source of their problems. If you're unsure whether a dairy-free diet is right for you, try an elimination diet or be tested for food sensitivity.


If a person does not have an allergy or intolerance, low-fat dairy products without added sugar can be a healthy complement to any diet.

In addition to a variety of vitamins and minerals, including calcium, milk offers protein, which is essential for bone health. However, these nutrients can be found in other foods.

Experts advise against consuming full-fat milk for people trying to lose weight and those at risk of cardiovascular disease.

High quantities of sugar or artificial sweeteners, binders, coloring, and other additives can be found in flavored milk. These are typically not healthy choices.

Anyone who wants to consume milk but is unsure if it's a good idea can consult a dietician or their doctor.

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Medically Reviewed on 8/17/2022
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