Cows milk, some see it is a wonderful calcium containing super-food. Others say it is a fattening, mucous stimulating, allergy causing disaster. Let's break this issue down by looking at the pros, misconceptions and cons of milk.
Pro: Milk is easily available.
Pro: It contains protein.
Pro: It is a food based calcium source.
Pro: It contains some Vitamin A, B6, Biotin, and Potassium.
Pro: May benefit teeth.
Misconception: Milk’s protein is easily accessible, and healthy? Milk proteins such as a hydrolyzed whey, or whey isolate have to be separated out of the milk, and than sold separately. So the muscle building, immune supporting milk properties are not necessarily available in the glass of milk you drink, but rather in the protein powder sold at the health food store. Colostrum and lactoferrin are health promoting milk products that again are sold separately. Why are processing these products out of the milk? Because milk can be intolerant to many (lactose), increase mucous production, and create allergies. One protein, he casein, may be the milk product, which is causing people issues.
Misconception: It is a good food based calcium and vitamin source? Milk contains a decent amount of calcium, but is it absorbing into the teeth and bones? America is the number one calcium consuming country in the world (milk and cheese), and has the highest rate of bone loss or osteoporosis. Countries like Viet Nam, India, and Japan where found in a Harvard study to consume far less calcium and have a much lower rate of bone loss and osteoporosis. Their sources of calcium include green leafy vegetables and for the most part exclude milk products. Green leaf vegetables are loaded with minerals and vitamins including calcium, and from research appear to prevent bone loss better.
Con: First, we are the only species to consume another species milk, and second, we are the only species to consume milk beyond its childhood. The inter-species and adult consumption transfer from cow to human may be adding to obesity, type I diabetes, and chronic food allergies.
Con: Pasteurization, homogenization, hormones, chemicals, and preservative’s can make the milk from the local farmer's cow, very different than the store-shelf, industrialized version in the store.
Conclusion: I personally do not recommend dairy products as a source of nutrients to my patients. In general, for most people, I suggest they avoid dairy. For infants like my daughter I used goat’s milk and added liquid B vitamins, vitamin D, fish oil. Probiotics, and additional Folic acid until she gets to 4 years of age. But even with goat, I will decrease using it as she gets older.