Milk is among the food items that are consumed globally. The primary reason for its popularity is that milk is readily available and is rich in various nutrients such as protein, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. Europe has the highest consumption of milk and dairy products, with data indicating that milk and dairy products contribute 9 percent of the dietary energy supply of people in Europe. Dietary protein supply from milk and dairy products in Europe is around 18 percent and dietary fat supply is 14 percent. People in Oceanic and American continents also have a high consumption of milk and dairy products.
Globally, a number of animals are used to source milk such as cow, buffalo, goat, sheep, camel, reindeer, moose, mare, yak, etc. However, the most commonly used animals are cows and buffalos. Of the two, cow milk is considered to provide optimal health benefits. Globally, there are two main breeds of cow, namely Bos taurus (humpless cattle) and Bos indicus (zebu cattle). Around 35 percent of cows globally are from the Holstein-Friesian breed. This breed is preferred because of their high milk production. Their milk also contains higher levels of protein, which is another advantage to dairy farmers.
Cow milk is preferred, as it is rich in protein and minerals like calcium and phosphorous. Cow milk protein is also of better quality, as it supplies all the essential amino acids, including lysine. Cow milk is essential for people with a vegetarian diet since plant based food is deficient in essential amino acids. For example, if you consider wheat, it supplies only 57 percent of the required quantity of lysine. Similarly, other plant based foods may lack the required level of essential amino acids such as leucine, valine and isoleucine. Amino acids are the building blocks of life, which is why cow milk is essential for ensuring optimal health.
Cow milk also supplies healthy fats, which are needed for our immune system, nervous system, and various other critical functions in the body. On an average, cow milk supplies around 3-4 grams of fat for every 100 grams of milk. Cow milk supplies various vitamins as well such as retinol, carotene, vitamin A, vitamin E,thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, folate, biotin, vitamin B12, vitamin C and vitamin D. The various minerals found in cowmilk include calcium, iron, magnesium,phosphorous, potassium, sodium, zinc, copper, selenium and manganese.
With such a rich nutrient profile, cow milk is considered a complete food. It is a must for people who want to live a healthy and active life.