Is Milk Good for You?

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  • Infographic

Milk contains 13 essential nutrients like high-quality proteincalcium, vitamin D and more.

Milk's nutrients help our bodies function properly. For example:

  • Protein helps build and repair muscle tissue
  • Calcium and vitamin D help build and maintain strong bones and teeth
  • Protein, zinc, selenium and vitamins A and D help support a healthy immune system.

Milk also contains B vitamins, which can help your body convert food into fuel:

  • Vitamin B-12
  • Riboflavin (B2)
  • Pantothenic acid (B5)
  • Niacin (B3)

Resource: Download this infographic for a closer look at the nutrients that can be found in a cup of low-fat milk.

Types of Milk

You may be familiar with the primary types of dairy milks you can purchase at the store: whole milk, reduced-fat milk (2%), low-fat milk (1%) and fat-free milk (skim). Fat level aside, all dairy milk (including chocolate milk) contains the same 13 essential nutrients – the only difference is the amount of butterfat they contain. How is this done? Before milk is bottled, all of the fat is removed. It’s then re-added to the milk in the various percentages. None of these milks are watered down.

Since these nutrients can vary slightly depending on your favorite milk brand, check the nutrition facts label on the package to learn more. (Side note: If you do look at the packaging, you may notice the food labels look a little different. While the nutrients in milk haven’t changed, the Food and Drug Administration is updating how foods, including milk, should be labeled.)

More Milk Facts

Checking out the label may have you asking other questions, too, like:

Does milk have added sugar?

White milk does not; the sugar in milk comes from the naturally occurring lactose. An 8-ounce serving of regular milk contains 12 grams of natural sugar – the same amount as you’d find in a small banana. Chocolate milk and other flavored milks may have some added sugar.

What is carrageenan?

Carrageenan is a seaweed extract that can be used to thicken foods, such as chocolate milk, yogurt and ice cream.

What do milk fat percentages mean?

Milk fat percentages (specifically 1% and 2%) refer to the amount of fat in the milk by weight. Whole milk, which is the closest to what it would be coming from a cow, is about 3.5% fat; fat-free or skim milk contains very little fat (less than 0.2%!).

What is ultra-high temperature milk?

UHT milk is real milk that has been ultra-pasteurized (that is, heated at or above 280 degrees for at least 2 seconds) and packaged in a way that it can last for several months on the shelf unrefrigerated.

Why is vitamin D added to milk?

It all goes back to 1922, thanks to a discovery that found adding vitamin D to calcium-rich milk could help build and maintain children’s bones.

Have more questions about milk? We dive into the other common questions here.