‘Got Milk?’ Famous people from Angelina Jolie and Rihanna to Tony Hawk and Jackie Chan do.

Actors, musicians, cartoon characters and athletes have all supported the advertising campaign asking us ‘Where's your moustache?’ Their faces can be seen with a milk moustache in magazines, on TV and on billboards around the world.

But, getting milk isn’t the only sales pitch. ‘Milk -- it does the body good’ is another slogan most doctors are happy to hear repeated.

So...what is it about milk that is so good for the body.

The most well known health benefit is calcium - if you listened to your mom while growing up you know that milk (and other dairy products) are the best places to get calcium. Strong bones, strong teeth, proper blood clotting and proper nerve functions are just some pros of milk that can be credited to calcium.

Milk is also the source of many vitamins. Vitamin B12 and Vitamin B6 help with body tissue such as blood cells and immune response. Vitamin A helps with vision and healthy skin (also present in carrots – what’s up doc?). Niacin is essential for growth and development. Riboflavin and phosphorus are required for making energy in our cells. Zinc helps our bodies build protein. Magnesium and Potassium are important for muscle activity and contractions. Vitamin D is also present, but more is added during processing because we don’t usually get enough. It’s important because it allows our bodies to absorb the calcium.


Did You Know?
It was understood that Vitamin D was of critical importance to our health in the 1930s, and milk suppliers realized they could increase the natural, but low, levels already present in milk. Since the 1940s milk in Canada and the US has had Vitamin D made through a chemical process added as a nutritional supplement.

With all the nutrition, those poster people for milk have an easy sell job!


Did You Know?
It’s usually yogurt or a milkshake that makes the ‘milk moustache’ as the thicker beverage sticks to the upper lip better and makes a much more obvious moustache for photographing.

The trip from the cow to the carton sitting on the grocery store shelf involves a sterilization process, or else it wouldn’t do the body much good. Raw milk can be a home to pathogens (disease-causing organisms), such as campylobacter, escherichia, listeria, salmonella, yersinia, and brucella. These bacteria can cause illness which includes diarrhea, stomach cramps, fever, headache, vomiting, and exhaustion


Did You Know?
Some people say raw (unpasteurized) milk is a healthier option as the pasteurization process can get ride of some of the nutrients. However, in 2002 nearly 200 people (it was 300 in 2001) in the US became sick after drinking raw milk. And in Canada it is illegal to sell raw, or unpasteurized milk. And anyone who has traveled can tell you those rules are in place for a reason as food borne illnesses are nasty. The best way to kill the bacteria is by heating it up, but boiling milk would also affect its nutritional value and also how it tastes. The middle ground between boiling the milk and leaving it alone is pasteurization.

By heating up the liquid (because pasteurization is almost always for a liquid) the bacteria are nearly completely killed, those that survive are useless because their enzymes are disabled due to the heat. It means the milk can last longer as it’s not just food borne pathogens in milk, but those that spoil the milk – pasteurization stops both kinds.

Milk can be pasteurized by heating to 62 degrees C for half an hour or as done in Canada where the milk is heated to 72.8 degrees C for 15 seconds then cooled to 4 degrees very quickly. Milk that goes through this process still needs to be kept cold, but in countries where there isn’t enough constant electricity to have refrigerators, milk can undergo a special type of pasteurization.

In this so called ultra high temperature (UHT) pasteurization the temperature is raised to 141 degrees C for one-to-two seconds completely sterilizing the product. This creates a product that doesn’t need to be kept cold, the boxes of milk that can be kept in a cupboard.

With all of the natural and added goodness milk is an amazing beverage. So drink up, unless you have lactose intolerance – but that’s another story.

References and Links:

Dairy Goodness: http://www.dairygoodness.ca/...

Dairyland: http://www.dairyland.ca/nutrition_info.htm

US Food & Drug Administration: http://www.fda.gov/fdac/features/2004/504_milk.html

Standing Committee on the Scientific Evaluation of Dietary Reference Intakes, Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Vitamin D and fluoride. Washington DC: The National Academies Press, 1997

CBC – Food Safety: www.cbc.ca/news/background/foodsafety/raw-milk.html

A.W. Norman. (2000). Vitamin D and Milk. Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences, University of California. http://vitamind.ucr.edu/milk.html

Angela Hill BSc, BJ, is a journalist and photographer currently working at a daily newspaper. She has no patience with food photography and was a little scared by the thought of an exploding hot dog. She spends her time photographing people and hopefully exotic places.


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