Milk naturally contains essential nutrients, such as protein, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, iodine and vitamins B2 (riboflavin) and B12. These nutrients support various functions in the body.
A glass (200 ml) of semi-skimmed milk contains a mixture of various nutrients (1)*.
- 6.8 g protein
- 240 mg calcium
- 190 mg phosphorus
- 320 mg potassium
- 38 mg vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
- 8 mcg vitamin B12
* The average nutritional value can differ between countries. Please have a look at the country specific food composition database.
Together with physical activity protein in food contributes to the maintenance of bone mass and growth and maintenance of muscles (2). Milk, yoghurt and cheese are naturally rich in protein. 80% of the milk protein is casein and 20% whey protein (3). Casein is also called the ‘slow protein’ and whey the ‘fast protein’. This is because whey generally provides an amino acid peak in the first two hours after consumption, whereas the amino acids in casein appear over a period of approximately 6 hours and therefore have a lower peak value. As milk protein contains all essential amino acids, the protein is of a high quality for the body (4).
Vitamins B2 and B12
Vitamin B2 and B12 supports the normal functioning of the nervous system and energy metabolism. Vitamin B2 also contributes to the maintenance of skin, vision and normal metabolism of iron. Vitamin B12 is only found in animal products such as dairy, meat, fish and eggs. Algae and seaweed contain a substance similar to vitamin B12, but this substance has no vitamin effect. (5)
The mineral contributes to the maintenance of bones and teeth (6). 99% of the body’s total calcium content is stored in the bones. When the body needs more calcium than it obtains from food, calcium in the bones can be used to keep the amount of calcium in the blood at an adequate level (7). Calcium contributes also to the normal function of muscles, neurotransmission, coagulation of blood and energy metabolism in the body (6). Milk is naturally rich in protein and is an important source of dietary calcium.
Just like calcium, phosphorus contributes to the maintenance of bones and teeth. 85% of the total amount of phosphorus in the body is stored in the bones. Phosphorus also supports normal energy metabolism. (8)
Contributes to the normal functioning of the muscles and the nervous system. Potassium also plays a role in maintaining a normal blood pressure. (9)
Vitamin D is present in oily fish and in smaller amounts in meat, eggs and full-fat dairy, such as Dutch-type full-fat cheese and butter. In some countries milk is fortified with extra vitamin D in order to increase the intake of this vitamin. Vitamin D contributes to several functions in the body including the maintenance of normal muscle function and the maintenance of normal bones and teeth. (10)
- EFSA Food composition database and Dutch food composition database (NEVO-online 2016)
- EFSA 2010;8(10):1811 and 2011;9(6):2203
- Schaafsma, G. en Steijns, J.M. (2000). Dairy ingredients as a source of functional foods. Book: Essentials of functional foods (chapter 8). 2000, United States, University of Minnesota.FAO, 2013
- EFSA 2010;8(10):1814
- EFSA 2009; 7(9):1210-1272 and EFSA 2010;8(10):1725 2011;9(6):2203
- Heaney, R.P. (2009). Dairy and bone health. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 2009; Vol. 28, No. 1, 82S–90SJ.EFSA 2009; 7(9):1219
- EFSA2010; 8(2):1469
- EFSA 2009; 7(9):1227 2011;9(6):2203