Humans are the only mammals to drink milk from their birth to death. 

When we are born, our digestive system can only and only digest human breast milk. All the necessary nutrients for survival are packed into human breast milk. But that too, is sufficient only till 6 months of age beyond which it’s less useful, infact thinking that our babies will be strong if breast feeding done for longer time is not true at all. As babies dietary requirements grow, breast milk is very insufficient to provide enough nutrition and if babies take breast milk they won’t take any other food as their stomach is full.

But then should we substitute with cow’s milk? What about the bone health?

We all know the following:

  • Cow’s milk is rich in Calcium. 
  • It helps in improving bone integrity. 
  • It’s a wholesome nutrition and also provides high proteins. 
  • It also has good amount of fats which is essential for children’s overall development (with doubtful use in adults). 
  • Good source of vitamin D (whole milk).

Nutrition content of Milk

Skim milk or low fat one cup (244gm)

Calories - 103

% Daily Value

  • Total Fat 2.4 g
  • Saturated fat 1.5 g
  • Polyunsaturated fat 0.1 g
  • Monounsaturated fat 0.7 g
  • Cholesterol 12.2 mg
  • Sodium 107.4 mg
  • Potassium 366 mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 12 g
  • Dietary fiber 0 g
  • Sugar 13 g
  • Protein 8 g
  • Vitamin A – 0%
  • Vitamin C – 0%
  • Calcium 30%
  • Iron 0%
  • Vitamin D 0%
  • Vitamin B-6 5%
  • Vitamin B-12 18%
  • Magnesium 6%

*Per cent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

One Cup 244gm of Whole milk

Calories 148

% Daily Value*

  • Total Fat 8 g
  • Saturated fat 4.6 g
  • Polyunsaturated fat 0.5 g
  • Monounsaturated fat 2 g
  • Cholesterol 24.4 mg
  • Sodium 104.9 mg
  • Potassium 322.1 mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 12 g
  • Dietary fiber 0 g
  • Sugar 12 g
  • Protein 8 g
  • Vitamin A – 7%
  • Vitamin C - 0%
  • Calcium – 27%
  • Iron – 0%
  • Vitamin D 31%
  • Vitamin B-6 5%
  • Vitamin B-12 18%
  • Magnesium 6%

One cup of breast milk (just for comparison)

Calories 171

% Daily Value*

  • Total Fat 11 g
  • Saturated fat 4.9 g
  • Polyunsaturated fat 1.2 g
  • Monounsaturated fat 4.1 g
  • Cholesterol 34.4 mg
  • Sodium 41.8 mg
  • Potassium 125.5 mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 17 g
  • Dietary fiber 0 g
  • Sugar 17 g
  • Protein 2.5 g
  • Vitamin A 10%
  • Vitamin C 20%
  • Calcium 7%
  • Iron 0%
  • Vitamin D 1%
  • Vitamin B-6 0%
  • Vitamin B-12 1%
  • Magnesium 1%

*Per cent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

So what’s the problem with milk? All looks good.

Robbing you of calcium

Milk is said to acidify body pH, when body tries to nullify this effect guess what is needed. It’s the calcium and the best source of calcium in our body is bones. So our bones loose the calcium just to nullify the acidity and it’s lost in the urine. Net result is negative calcium balance.

Cow’s milk is for calves. It’s designed for them. Compare the above nutrition data you will see high Sodium and high proteins. Both of which is not good for calcium absorption. High sodium (Na) is responsible for acidic pH and also it competes in renal tubules for reabsorption with calcium. Also high levels of proteins increases the acidic levels in blood and thereby calcium excretion.

Interesting fact is all the countries where milk or dairy products are available and taken in large quantities are the ones suffering from osteoporosis. Take for example Switzerland and the USA where average consumption of milk and dairy is 3-4 cups per day, are the ones with largest percentage of osteoporosis. On the other hand China and India where average milk and dairy consumption is less than 0.5 cups per day are the ones with less percentage of populations suffering from Osteoporosis.

Milk and Heart

We know for a fact that whole milk is high in fats, which causes heart diseases.

Well smoking, drinking and high sugars in diet are more dangerous that just blaming the cow’s milk. When the fat is removed from milk the remaining fats is sent to make cream, butter etc. One study showed that those who drink skim milk will get what they discarded in form of cheese, cream or butter form so net result is lost.

Milk and Cancer

Milk and dairy products does increase the risk of cancer, esp. Breast, ovarian and prostate cancer.

Cow’s milk contains Insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1). Studies have shown convincing evidence between IGF-1 and breast as well as prostate cancer. Men with high levels of IGF-1 have four fold increases in chances of prostate cancer.

Physicians Health Study, data of 21,660 participants found increased risk of prostate cancer who took >2.5 servings of dairy products as compared to ,0.5 servings daily.

Also dairy has high content of estrogenic metabolites which increases the risk of breast and ovarian cancer. Dairy product intake contributes to 60-70% estrogen content in the diet.

Life after Cancer Epidemiology Study- 1893 females with early-stage invasive breast cancer, higher amounts of high fat dairy product consumption were associated with higher mortality rates. Even as low as 0.5 servings per day increased the risk significantly.

Milk sugar lactose is toxic to ovarian cells. Iowa Women’s health study found women who drank more than once sup of milk per day had 73% greater chance of developing ovarian cancer than women who drank less than one cup of milk per day.

Lactose intolerance

Enzyme lactase breaks down milk sugar lactose in to glucose and galactose. Nursing children have the enzyme galactase in them which breaks down or digests galactose. We lose the capacity to digest lactose as we age. Many people have mild form of lactose intolerance with symptoms like gastrointestinal distress, diarrhea and flatulence. Milk consumption in lactose intolerant individuals is avoided, if need be there are tablets available which needed to be consumed before taking in the milk.

Contaminants in Dairy

I am talking about known or contaminants before packaging. The ones seen in the news channel people mixing oil paste and colors and God knows what else is just plain bad luck or bad governance.

We all know how can a cow milk all year around? Well many ways are there, some humane and some inhumane. One of the inhumane ways is bring the calf near and before it even touches the cow take her away or put a spiked collar on the calf so it will hurt the cow and she will herself kick the calf away. Many other such inhumane ways exist. One of the humane ways is using the hormones and growth factors, which are dangerous for humans. They disturb our normal hormonal balance.

Also treating infections in cows like mastitis (which is rampant) or inflammation of the mammary glands, antibiotics are used. These antibiotic traces are often found in the samples of milk and dairy products.

Pesticides like dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls are contaminants known to be present in the milk. Now our 1/4th to ½ of dioxin intake is from milk or milk products. Our bodies do not have mechanisms to digest these and so they keep on accumulating which damages our immune systems, reproductive systems and central nervous systems. They are also known to cause cancer.

Also plastic bags contain melamine which is dangerous for kidneys and urinary tract due to high nitrogen content. Also alfatoxins present as contaminant is carcinogenic.

What is more problematic is these toxins are not destroyed on pasteurization.


Well milk consumption in infants is directly linked to type 1 diabetes (insulin dependent diabetes mellitus). A 2001 Finnish study on 3000 infants showed early introduction of dairy products in diet leads to increased susceptibility to type 1 diabetes. American Academy of Pediatrics observed upto 30% reduction in type 1 diabetes in infants who avoid milk in first three months of life. They recommend no milk till 1year of age.

Children and milk

Breast feeding mothers on cow’s milk have colicky babies. Also, antibiotics present in the cow’s milk are passed from breast milk to the babies.

Colicky baby

Food allergies and chronic constipation are also linked to cow’s milk.

What about calcium? From where do we get calcium?

Well, now you see the above reasons are enough for me to stop drinking or giving milk to my kids.

Then what about calcium? Am I propagating supplements?

No. I am not. Our regular wholesome diet minus milk generally gives us 600mg of calcium. Daily requirement of calcium is 1000mg in children and adults greater than 4 years of age, 1200 in lactating and post menopausal women.

Food recommended

  • Dark green leafy vegetables- methi (fenugreek), lettuce (palak)
  • Green peas (one small bowl)
  • Black eyed peas (chawali) (one small bowl)
  • Oranges
  • Juices fortified with calcium
  • Fat free yoghurt (yes its dairy product but minus all the above mentioned contaminants)
  • Soy milk
  • Broccoli
  • Salmon fish

What to avoid-

  • High sodium in diet. Reduce salt. Processed foodstuff is very high in Sodium.
  • Cola drinks.
  • Coffee in moderation. Not more than 3 cups per day.
  • Do weight bearing exercises. Like walking or aerobic exercises or dance, weight lifting. Swimming is good for cardiovascular fitness but not for increasing calcium content in bones. Fact- One week of bed rest of just sitting and no exercises causes such a loss of calcium that requires one year of extensive or increased amount of exercise to fill in the deficit. So regular exercise is a must.
  • Avoid smoking as capillary circulation is hampered so calcium in muscles and bones is reduced.
  • High animal protein diet. Including protein supplements. I think Indians are already low on proteins so this statement stands true for people taking large protein supplement servings.

The American society of food and drugs recommends daily intake of 3 cups of milk daily. It’s present since 1994. No updates are made since. Also, most of the research is done post-2002. So high time recommendations are upgraded.

Is it the milk and dairy industry which wants us to not know the truth? Who knows?