Dairy products make up an important part of a healthy diet, and dietary guidelines released by the United States Department of Agriculture recommend consuming 3 cups of them daily. Each 16-ounce portion of whole milk provides two-thirds of your daily dairy intake, and also contains essential nutrients that benefit your health. However, whole milk is also high in fat, so if you want to limit your calorie and fat intake, nonfat or low-fat milk may be better choices.
Protein, Carbs and Energy
A 16-ounce portion of whole milk contains 298 calories, or 15 percent of your daily calorie intake based on a 2,000-calorie diet. Consuming 16 ounces of whole milk provides you with about 24 grams of carbohydrates -- a source of fuel for your tissues and cells -- and 15 grams of protein to help build healthy and strong tissues. This makes up approximately one-quarter of the daily recommended protein intake for an average 150-pound individual, according to guidelines published by the Iowa State University Extension.
Calcium and Potassium
Drinking 16 ounces of whole milk contributes a significant amount toward your daily mineral intake, especially the minerals calcium and potassium. Both minerals play essential roles in nervous system function and support the function of your heart. Calcium also helps maintain healthy bone density, while potassium contributes to muscle function. Each 16-ounce portion of whole milk contains 551 milligrams of calcium -- 55 percent of your recommended daily intake -- and 644 milligrams of potassium, 14 percent of the recommended daily intake.
Vitamins B-12 and D
Whole milk also boosts your intake of essential vitamins, including D and B-12. Each serving provides you with 249 international units of vitamin D -- 42 percent of your recommended daily intake -- and 2.2 micrograms of vitamin B-12, or 92 percent of the recommended daily intake. Vitamin D allows your body to utilize the calcium from your diet and, as a result, supports nerve function and bone health. Vitamin B-12 also supports nerve function, and it plays a role in new blood cell production.
Whole milk's high fat and saturated fat content means that it's best consumed in moderation, as part of a balanced diet. Each 16-ounce portion contains 16 grams of total fat, including 9.1 grams of saturated fat. This makes up almost 60 percent of your daily saturated fat intake limit in a 2,000-calorie diet, according to guidelines from the American Heart Association. Saturated fat has a harmful effect on your blood cholesterol, increasing the levels of "bad" cholesterol -- the type that contributes to cardiovascular disease -- in your bloodstream. If you really enjoy the taste of whole milk, drink it as an occasional treat and opt for low-fat milk most of the time.
- USDA ChooseMyPlate: How Much Food from the Dairy Group Is Needed Daily?
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Milk, Whole, 3.25% Milkfat, With Added Vitamin D
- Iowa State University Extension: Protein
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Calcium
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Potassium
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin B-12 (Cobalamin)
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin D
- Harvard School of Public Health: Fats and Cholesterol: Out with the Bad, In with the Good