Meet the Milk Minerals (And Vitamins!)
Updated: Mar 21
We all know milk is part of a healthful diet, but have you ever stopped to wonder what exactly is in that ice-cold glass of creamy goodness? This can be a complex answer depending on how deep one wishes to go into the nutritional science of dairy, but this is the rundown on the minerals and vitamins inside milk.
Snowville Creamery minimally processes our milk because we believe nature got the recipe right. This minimal processing preserves as much of the nutritional components of milk as possible while ensuring any potentially harmful elements are removed. In particular, the higher heat treatments used in Ultra High Temperature (UHT) pasteurization causes loss of some water-soluble vitamins.
Additionally, storage can affect the nutrition of milk. Light exposure can decrease riboflavin (B2) and Vitamin A. It’s best to store milk in opaque containers, such as Snowville’s paperboard cartons, to maximize vitamin retention and avoid clear glass containers or bottles.
Milk is a good source of six minerals and has small amounts of four more: copper, iron, manganese, and sodium. In this section, we’ll talk about the ones that are a good source and why they’re beneficial.
This is the mineral that comes to mind when people think about milk nutrition, and for good reason. The most abundant mineral in the body, it builds strong bones and teeth and keeps them that way. It’s also essential to keep your heart, muscles and nerves working right.
Magnesium is crucial for many functions in the body. It works like a helper molecule to assist with over 600 reactions in your body. These include converting food into energy, creating new proteins, create and repair DNA and RNA, muscle contraction and relaxation, and regulating neurotransmitters to help send messages from your brain throughout your body.
During exorcise, it can move blood sugar into your muscles and reduces lactate, boosting your performance. This also means it helps support healthy blood sugar levels. There is evidence low levels can be linked to low mood and depression and can reduce anxiety symptoms. Magnesium can help lower blood pressure levels and reduce risk of heart disease and stroke as well. Additionally, it has anti-inflammatory benefits, may prevent migraine attacks, improve PMS symptoms, support better sleep, and promote bone health! As you can see, magnesium is certainly a mineral you’ll want to include in your diet and most people just don’t get enough.
Your nervous system, kidneys, muscles, and heart will thank you for getting your phosphorus. Bones and teeth stay strong thanks to this mineral (like several others). It also helps muscles contract and aids in muscle recovery after exercise. It helps the kidneys filter and remove waste as well as assists with better nerve conduction. Phosphorus plays a role in making DNA and RNA and helps process carbohydrates, managing the body’s energy use and storage.
Bananas aren’t the only good source of potassium! So is milk. Its primary function is to maintain the amount of fluid in our cells. It’s the counterpart of sodium, who manages fluid outside of cells. It assists in keeping your blood pressure in healthy ranges. And what it’s most famous for is helping with muscle contractions. People with low levels of potassium may suffer from muscle cramps as well as fatigue, constipation, muscle paralysis and irregular heart rates.
A mineral the body only needs a small amount of, Selenium is also essential. It is a part of proteins called selenoproteins that helps protect against infections, cell damage, and make DNA. You also need selenoproteins as they hold a role in reproduction and metabolism of thyroid hormones. This is why you’ll find the highest concentration of it in the thyroid glands.
Feel a cold coming on? Zinc is your friend. It helps your immune system and metabolism. It also plays a role in your sense of taste and smell and assists in healing wounds. Getting zinc within 24 hours after symptoms of a cold start can shorten the duration. Some research also suggests zinc may slow age-related macular degeneration.
Milk contains quite a few vitamins in addition to the minerals listed. Some are only in very small amounts, and those include vitamins B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin C, folate, vitamin E, and vitamin K. Here are the ones which are in greater abundance in milk, though the amount can vary based on the kind of milk you drink.
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)
All the B vitamins help the body convert food (carbohydrates) into fuel (glucose) and assists in metabolizing fats and protein. Sometimes called the “anti-stress” vitamin, it may help your body withstand stressful situations and boost immune health.
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
Like B1, B2 helps break down proteins, fats, and carbs, maintaining the energy supply in your body. It can help maintain the mucus membranes in your digestive system, promoting healthy liver, eyes, nerves, muscles, and skin. With B2, you’ll absorb and activate iron, folic acid, and B1, B3, and B6 better. B2 prevents cataracts and perhaps migraines. It assists in hormone production by the adrenal glands and fetal development.
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)
An essential vitamin your body can't produce, B12 supports normal nerve function, red blood cell formation, and DNA synthesis. With B12, you’ll find yourself with an energy boost, improved memory, and it may help prevent heart disease. It’s not yet understood why, but it helps synthesize and metabolize serotonin, which regulate mood. It helps preserve neurons in your brain, which is why memory often improves.
Essential for preserving eyesight, vitamin A is needed to convert light that his your eye into a signal that goes to your brain. Researchers are also studying vitamin A for a decreased link in some cancers such as Hodgkin’s lymphoma, cervical, lung, and bladder cancers. It plays a role in maintaining mucus barriers that are your body’s natural barriers, which also means it’s also great for acne.
Consumed in food and also created by our bodies, vitamin D helps the body absorb and keep calcium and phosphorus, critical for building bone. Observational studies show a link between higher vitamin D blood levels and lower type 2 diabetes instances. Much of the body contains specific receptors for vitamin D, meaning there may be more benefits than we know about this vitamin. Studies so far have shown it can reduce cancer cell growth, control infections, and reduce inflammation. In fact, some scientists hypothesize that vitamin D deficiency may contribute to developing multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, and other auto-immune diseases where the body attacks itself. Although you can get vitamin D through sunlight, with limited sun in winter and our increasingly indoor life, few people can get enough through this way alone.
The Wrap Up
Milk provides a plentiful resource of drinkable nutrition. The various components inside all combine to create a resume of health. More importantly, it’s delicious, too! So grab a carton or pint of Snowville’s milk and drink to your health!