Milk is full of essential vitamins and minerals. It is available in several forms, from fat-free to whole milk. All varieties of milk provide beneficial nutrients, but whole milk has more fat and calories. You need three cups or equivalents of milk foods each day for a healthy balanced diet, suggests MyPyramid.gov.
Vitamins and Minerals
Milk is best known for its ability to keep your bones and teeth strong. Minerals like calcium, phosphorus and potassium, as well as vitamin D, are all found in milk. Calcium not only makes your bones strong and hard, it also helps blood flow and allows nerves to carry messages to and from the brain. Vitamin D helps with the absorption of calcium. About 85 percent of the phosphorous in the body is utilized in bones, but the rest of it provides structure to cell membranes and helps give energy to all cells, explains the Linus Pauling Institute. Potassium is crucial for heart function, as well as muscle and skeletal movement. You need 1,000 mg of calcium, 600 IU of vitamin D, 700 mg of phosphorous and 2,000 mg of potassium daily. Nutrient content varies based on the type of milk you have.
Whole milk is 3.25 percent fat. An 8 oz. glass provides 150 calories, approximately 8 g of protein, 8 g of fat and 11.5 g of carbohydrates. More than half of the fat in whole milk is saturated, which can increase your risk of LDL cholesterol, leading to heart disease, explains the Mayo Clinic. This serving provides 276 mg of calcium, 124 IU of vitamin D, 205 mg of phosphorous and 322 mg of potassium.
Reduced fat milk has 1 to 2 percent total fat. Each 8 oz. glass contains about 120 calories, 8 g of protein, 4 g of fat and 11.5 g of carbs. Additionally, this serving provides 293 mg of calcium, 120 IU of vitamin D, 224 mg of phosphorous and 342 mg of potassium, reports the USDA.
Skim or fat-free milk has less than .5 g of fat per serving. Each 8 oz. glass has around 90 calories, 8.5 g of protein and 12.5 g of carbs. Additionally, it provides 316 mg of calcium and 120 IU of vitamin D. Skim milk is rich in phosphorous and potassium; one serving contains 255 mg of phosphorous and nearly 420 mg of potassium.