Got Milk Questions?

Milk labels can be very confusing, so today I’m going to try to clarify some of the common misconceptions with milk.  The following are the answers to some questions my patients frequently ask:

  1. What is the difference between Fat-Free Milk and Skim Milk?  There is no difference.  Skim, fat-free and non-fat milk are all terms used to describe milk that has 0% fat.
  2. Whole milk is often labeled as “Vitamin D Milk”, so is it a better source of vitamin D than skim milk?  No, 1 cup (8 ounces) of skim milk has the same amount of vitamin D as 1 cup of whole milk.  While the vitamin D is removed from skim milk along with the fat, skim milk is then fortified with at least 400 IUs  of vitamin D per quart.   
  3. Whole milk is best for children, right?  Whole milk is the best choice for children up until the age of 2 years old.  After that, it is best to start to switch children to lower fat versions.  The fat in milk is a saturated fat which is an “unhealthy” fat that can lead to heart disease down the road.
  4. How much of an impact on my weight can there be from switching to a lower fat milk?  Reduced fat milk is lower in fat and calories.  The following is a chart that demonstrates this difference:
Type of Milk Calories Fat (gm)
Skim Milk (0%) 80 0
1% Milk 100 2.4
2% Milk 120 5
Whole Milk (3.25%) 150 8

So, if you switch from whole milk to skim milk, you would save 70 calories per cup (8 ounces).  If you drink 2 cups of milk per day, you would save 140 calories each day.  This change alone would lead to a 14-pound weight loss at the end of the year by saving 51,100 calories and 2,920 grams of the unhealthy saturated fat.  This shows how small changes can’t make big differences!