The Benefits and Risks of Drinking Milk

Milk is one of nature's main sources of calcium and is very important for babies. Calcium is essential for bone formation and maintenance, among other things. In this article, discover the benefits and risks of drinking milk.
The Benefits and Risks of Drinking Milk
María Vijande

Reviewed and approved by the pharmacist María Vijande.

Written by María Vijande

Last update: 15 December, 2022

You’ve probably always heard that drinking milk is essential for growth. Also, it helps your bones and teeth stay healthy. However, drinking milk and consuming dairy products can also cause certain health problems.

Nevertheless, it’s not all bad news. After all, consuming milk is also beneficial in many ways. We’ll explain more throughout this article.

What are the benefits of drinking milk?

A girl drinking a glass of milk.

Milk has been a part of the human diet in most civilizations for thousands of years. In fact, humans began consuming milk about 11,000 years ago, when we started domesticating livestock. However, milk for human consumption is often treated with ultra-high temperature processing, which causes slight variations in its composition.

Milk is one of nature’s main sources of calcium. It’s very important for babies. Calcium is essential for bone formation and maintenance, among other things.

Also, this food provides other important minerals. This is why milk is one of the most complete foods there is.

Also, milk is a raw material for the production of many dairy products such as butter, cheese, yogurt, cream, or curd. Since the number-one consumed milk in the word is cow milk, we decided to focus on its composition:

The composition of milk

  • Water: The majority component. Milk is made up of 80-87% water.
  • Carbohydrates: Lactose is the main sugar in milk. This component is one of the reasons why it’s risky to drink milk.
  • Proteins: The proteins in milk are considered of high biological value and contain many essential amino acids. Milk is made up of 3-4% protein.
  • Fat: This makes up 3 to 6% of milk. However, this varies greatly depending on cow nutrition and breed. Overall, 90% of the fat in milk is in the form of triglycerides.
  • Vitamins: Among all the vitamins milk contains, vitamin A, vitamin D, riboflavin (B2), cyanocobalamin, and thiamine are worthy of special mention.
  • Minerals: Milk is very rich in minerals which are usually in the form of salts. Milk contains calcium, potassium, phosphorus, iodine, sodium, chloride, magnesium, and zinc.

The risks of drinking milk

As we mentioned earlier in this article, consuming milk also carries many risks that should be considered. Some of them are:

1. Lactose intolerance

A man who suffers from lactose intolerance.

1 in 2 people is lactose intolerant. As we mentioned above, lactose is the main sugar in milk. However, most people don’t know they’re intolerant to this substance and continue consuming milk.

In this regard, a high percentage of the world’s population is lactose intolerant. Thus, lactose intolerance isn’t a disease, but a normal state. This is because, between the ages of two and four, our body begins to stop synthesizing the enzyme lactase, which is responsible for the digestion of lactose.

Since humans usually continue drinking milk, the lactose they consume isn’t digested, meaning it remains in the intestine where it’s fermented by colon bacteria. This leads to gas, pain, and sometimes diarrhea.

2. Calcium malabsorption after drinking milk

Consuming animal proteins makes the blood’s pH acid. As a reaction, the body uses part of the calcium in the bones to neutralize the acidity. It’s been shown that consuming dairy products or calcium-rich foods isn’t a protective factor against the risk of fracture.

Although milk contains essential nutrients, you don’t need to drink milk to get them. In fact, vegetables are some of the most calcium-rich foods.

3. Drinking milk increases the risk of allergies and asthma

Cow’s milk has three times more proteins than human milk, and some of them are very hard to digest.

In some people, these proteins (such as casein) adhere to intestinal lymphatic vessels, which prevents the absorption of nutrients. Thus, they can cause immune system problems, allergies, and asthma.


It’s important to know if you’re lactose intolerant or not to avoid any milk consumption-related complications. However, consuming this food moderately (only after ruling out lactose intolerance) is beneficial for the body.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.