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What is in Raw Milk?

Raw milk is composed of proteins, milk sugar, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, milk fats, nonfat solids and water. Raw milk is a living food. Research studies have shown that unaltered raw milk in its natural state allows proteins, minerals, fats, enzymes, carborhydrates to be metabolically available; therefore, the body can more readily use all of the nutrition1.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)2 and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)3, unpasteurized raw milk might carry unsafe bacteria (i.e., listeria, salmonella, and Escherichia coli).


Composition of Raw Milk

Raw milk contains approximately 87.4% water and 12.6% milk solids (3.7% fat, 8.9% milk solids nonfat; consisting of 3.4% protein, 4.8% lactose and 0.7% minerals and other minor components)4.

Components4 (g/L)
Total solids 125
Proteins 34
Casein proteins 28
Whey proteins 6
LF (mg/L) 10-50
Fat 31
Lactose 48
Oligosaccharides 0.03-0.06
Riboflavin (mg/L) 1.57
Ash 7
Calcium 1.14
Phosphorous 0.93

Raw Milk is Local


We are a product of what we eat and the environment we live in. Cows and other animals are not any different in this regard. Ultimately, the cows breed, what a cow consumes and the quality of the environment they live in ultimately determines what is in raw milk.

Essentially, what is in raw milk is local. Local farm practices such as breed, genetic selection, diet, concentration of cows, environment, and health all play a role in the composition of raw milk. Seasonality also plays a role. If you want to know what is in raw milk you are buying, ideally you would need to visit your local dairy farmer and ask some of these questions yourself. What do the cows eat (e.g., grass-fed, grain, soy)? Are the cows injected with antibiotics or other substances to increase milk production? Are cows treated with chemical-laden ointments to deal with chronic infections? What are the living conditions of the cows? What is the concentration of cows in the area they live in? What standards are being used to produce raw milk?


Pasteurized Milk

Louis Pasteur and Claude Bernard completed their first pasteurization test in April 18625. The pasteurization process was originally conceived to preserve wine and beer. Milk pasteurization involves heating milk to 145 - 150o F for approximately 30 minutes6 or to 164 - 168o F for approximately 15 seconds7. A vast majority have milk sold and consume in the United States is pateurized. You can do this in your own kitchen!


Nutritional Value of Raw Milk vs. Pasteurized Milk1

Raw Milk Pasteurized Milk
Protein 100% of protein remain available in raw milk, and all 22 amino acids, including 8 that are essential are 100% available in raw milk. Protein-lysine and tyrosine are altered by heat with serious loss of metabolic availability in pasteurized milk. This results in making the whole protein complex less available in pasteurized milk for tissue repair and rebuilding.
Carbohydrates Carbohydrates in raw milk a easily utilized in metabolism. This is due to the fact that the carbohydrates in raw milk are still associated naturally with elements. Test results indicate that heat has made some changes to the carbohydrates in pasteurized milk making the elements less available metabolically.
Fats All 18 fatty acids (e.g., saturated and unsaturated fats) in raw milk are metabolically available in their natural state. Research indicates that fats are required to metabolize protein and calcium. Fats are altered by heat in pasteurized milk, especially the 10 essential unsaturated fats.
Vitamins 100% of vitamins remain available in raw milk. Among the fat-soluble vitamins in pasteurized milk, some are classed of vitamins as unstable and therefore a loss is caused by heating above blood temperature. This loss of Vitamin A, D, E and F can run as high as 66%. Vitamin C loss usually exceeds 50%. Losses on watersoluble vitamins are affected by heat and can run from 38% to 80%.
Minerals All 100% metabolically available in raw milk. Major mineral components are calcium, chlorine, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and sulphur. Vital trace minerals in raw milk are 100% available. Calcium in pasteurized milk is altered by heat and loss in metabolism may run 50% or more, depending on pasteurization temperature. There is a loss of enzymes that serve as leaders in assimilation minerals.
Enzymes All enzymes remain available in raw milk. Less than 10% of enzymes remain in pasteurized milk.


1 Aajonus Vonderplanitz, Ph.D., and William Campbell Douglass, M.D. (February, 2001), "Report in Favor of Raw Milk"
4 Amita Chand (April, 2006). "On-farm Fractionation of Milk Components".
5 Hwang, Andy; Huang, Lihan (2009-01-31). Ready-to-Eat Foods: Microbial Concerns and Control Measures. CRC Press.
6 Koel, Jaan (2001). "Paving the Way for ESL". Dairy Foods.
7 Rich, Robert (September 5, 2003). "Keeping it raw". The Mountain View Voice (Embarcadero Publishing Company).