The following is input from a visitor to our healthy eating website.  We appreciate hearing from our readers with questions, comments or guest blogs since the compendium of healthy eating information is large and complicated and is growing and changing all the time.  

Please feel free to add your feedback in the comments section if you have information or questions that will help further our pursuit of a healthy eating lifestyle! 

Thank you to everyone who has contributed!

A2 Cow's Milk

by Jane
(Ruckersville, VA 22968)

Jane's Question:

Our local Whole Foods has carried an array of products from a local dairy in our area for many years. We've recently learned that the dairy is in the process of converting their entire operation to cows with the A-2, A-2 gene makeup. I plan to do more research, but would appreciate your thoughts. No one in our family has issues with lactose intolerance, etc., so I'm wondering if we should embrace or avoid these new "Super Moos"?!

Thanks so much!

Jane Brown

Suzy's Answer:

Thank you for this great question! I have looked into this issue, since one of our local dairies has begun selling milk which is advertised as only having the A2 protein. (The fact that it is local and sold in recyclable glass bottles is also a plus for me.)

It's all about the type of protein.

There are two main proteins in milk--casein and whey protein. The A2 issue deals with the casein type, which is the most abundant of the proteins in milk, accounting for about 80% of the protein.

To make it more complicated, there are different types of casein in milk, but the one at play here is the beta-casein, which accounts for about 30% of the protein in cow's milk. A1 and A2 are forms of beta-casein.

In the distant past, cow's milk contained only the A2 form of beta-casein. However, the milk that is available in grocery stores today has mostly the A1 variety.

So, the question then becomes, what is the difference?

Most of the studies on A1 vs. A2 milk have been funded by interested parties, namely the A2 producers, so keep that in mind when considering the results.

According to these studies here are the pros of A2 milk:

A2 beta-casein from cow's milk more closely resembles the protein found in breast milk.

beta-casein may cause stomach discomfort (similar to lactose intolerance) due to how it is digested.

In one study, people who drank the A1 milk had higher levels of inflammation in their body.

A1-beta casein may make sensitive people more prone to bowel issues such as diarrhea.

Participants in one study experienced more "brain fog" after consuming A1 milk than those who drank the A2 variety.

There are other claims made by A2 milk producers, but the studies were small and some have been contradicted by larger studies, so I won't mention them here.

Take away

My take is that if a person has digestive issues related to milk that might be helped by switching to A2 milk, it is worth a try.

Also, if you find the studies about the health benefits of A2 milk compelling, it may also be a reason to switch.

Other factors to consider

For me, the most important factors in choosing which milk to buy are (1)how the dairy cows are fed and cared for, (2)if they are given drugs that could end up in the milk and (3)how the milk is packaged.

For those who can afford to be choosy, I recommend buying only USDA organic milk or locally produced organic milk that is not packaged in plastic.

Grass-fed cows that spend at least part of their time out in the sunshine and fresh air will require fewer drugs to keep them healthy and will also produce a healthier product.

In addition, if the milk is packaged in plastic, the plastic will get into the milk and into your body.

The downside is that organic products are generally more expensive than conventional ones and may not be possible for some consumers.

I hope this helps, Jane, and thanks so much for visiting our healthy eating website and for getting in touch!

Warmest regards,

Suzy Staywell

Click here to post comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Ask Suzy.