Milk is available to the consumer in a variety of different forms. Many commercial milk products are fortified with several vitamins and minerals to provide the consumer with the highest benefits possible. Milk is also available in fat-free, low-fat and full-fat versions, whose vitamin and mineral content may differ. Since the United States Department of Agriculture recommends making most of your milk servings low-fat, the following vitamin and mineral content will describe 8-oz. of low-fat milk.
One of the most well-known nutritional benefits of milk is its calcium content. An 8-oz. serving of low-fat milk provides 305 mg of calcium. Adults should aim to consume between 1,000 and 1,200 mg of calcium daily. Calcium helps build strong bones and teeth, ensures that your muscles contract properly and nerve signals travel efficiently. According to “Nutrition and You” by Joan Salge Blake, calcium may also help lower blood pressure and decrease your risk for obesity.
An 8-oz. glass of milk also provides approximately 230 mg of phosphorus, which is approximately one-third of an adult’s daily need of 700 mg. Phosphorus combines with calcium to form a compound called hydroxypeptide. Hydroxypeptide provides the structure that gives bones and teeth their strength. Phosphorus also plays a role in storing energy from carbohydrates, protein and fat and helps maintain the pH of your blood, according to “Nutrition and You” by Joan Salge Blake.
Most milk is now fortified with vitamins A and D. An 8-oz. glass of fortified milk provides approximately 145 mcg RAE of vitamin A. Adult women require 700 mcg RAE of vitamin A, whereas adult males require 900 mcg RAE. The most important function of vitamin A is its role in vision. Vitamin A also plays important roles in reproduction, keeping the immune system healthy and cell differentiation.
Fortified milk contains an inactive form of vitamin D called previtamin D. When you drink milk, the inactive form of vitamin D travels to your liver where it is converted to the active form of vitamin D that your body can use. Fortified milk is one of the few sources of vitamin D in the diet. An 8 oz. glass of fortified milk contains 117 international units, or IU, of vitamin D. Adults require 200 to 600 IU of vitamin D daily.
Vitamin D contributes to the health of your bones by regulating the action of calcium and phosphorous. According to “Nutrition and You” by Joan Salge Blake, sufficient intake of vitamin D may also help prevent diabetes and some types of cancer.