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Don’t SKIMp on Milk!

What kind of milk do you drink? Are you still buying skim milk because you believe it is the healthier option?  Not only is skim milk not the healthier option, but in fact, fat free dairy offers little to no nutrition benefit.  Here are 3 reasons not to SKIMp on milk!

1.  Fat Soluble Vitamins- Need FAT for delivery

If you remove the fat from dairy (or any other food) you are likely removing most of the nutrition as certain vitamins known as fat soluble vitamins- A, D, E and K, are found in fat.   Drinking skim milk means the fat has been removed and thus so has most of these key nutrients.  Whole milk is rich in healthy fats as well as these vital nutrients.  Even if the milk you are drinking provides trace amounts of these vitamins through fortification you are likely not utlizing them as they require FAT for delivery and  absorption.

Many dairy farmers also need to fortify milk with fat soluble vitamins as most milk sold in the US today is derived from dairy farms where cows are grain fed and limited to no access to the outdoors.  Cows get vitamins A, E and K from eating grass and vitamin D from exposure to the sun.  While Vitamin D is fortified in milk, it is a chemically synthesized from of Vitamin D and essentially useless to the human body.  This is yet another great reason to buy organic milk from pasture raised cows.

Lastly calcium requires vitamin D “on board” to be absorbed.  As stated above the vitamin D found in conventional milk is likely fortified and a chemically synthesized version (vitamin D2) that the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded to be an invaluable form of supplementation in humans.   Therefore, the calcium dairy should provide may not be absorbed as well due to the lack of adequate amount and form of vitamin D present.

2. Lower Calories= Less Satiety 

When the low fat and fat free “craze” began, one of the benefits touted was lower calories which many equated to weight loss.   It is true that gram for gram fats provide the most calories at 9 cal/gram as compared to carbohydrates and proteins that provide 4cal/gram.  Simple math should mean that fat free and low fat products provide less calories than their fat containing equivalents, however  research is now finding that low fat foods may decrease satiety and fullness and result in increased calorie consumption in later meals.   As fat provides satiety, removal of the fat leads to increases in hunger and thus eating more later in the day.  With respect to milk, a study published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood scientists found that kids who drank lower-fat milks were actually more likely to be overweight later on.

Another area of concern with dairy is the removal of fat and replacing those calories with sugar for taste.  Most food manufacturers flavor food using three ingredients: fat, sugar and salt.  If fat is removed, sugar or sugar substitutes are often used to improve flavor- cue flavored milk!  Most schools removed full fat milk from their menus and replaced it with low fat plain, chocolate or strawberry flavored milk.  While the milk provides 3g less of saturated fat it also provides 13g more of sugar!  This addition of sugar increases waist lines, risk of diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

3. Healthy Fats,  They Do the Body Good!

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends full fat dairy until the age of 2 as infants require healthy fats for neurological and brain development.   Interesting to note that cognitive and neurological function continue to require fats LONG after the age of two, yet many jumped on the “fat is bad” bandwagon despite research to support this claim.

Fats have many crucial roles in the body and the removal of healthy fats from the diet has been linked to increased risk of many diseases associated with inflammation such as Alzheimer’s, depression, neurological disorders, and autoimmune disorders.  One cherry picked epidemiological study published by Ancel Keys decades ago, lead to the fear of fat and despite current research debunking its findings people continue to avoid and fear fat.  The most dreaded of all fats by many are saturated fats, but again the fear is unfounded.  Saturated fats have significant roles in heart, lung, immune, bone and liver health.  Saturated fats are also involved in hormone production and have a positive influence over cholesterol by increasing your good cholesterol (HDL) and changing the particle size of cholesterol to more large buoyant particles which means less cardiovascular risk.  Cholesterol and fatty acids are needed  for hormone production, healthy cell membranes, vitamin D synthesis, and the transportation of both vitamins and minerals.


Bottom Line: Stop fearing fat!  Skim milk may provide less calories (only plain) but it also provides way less nutrition.  Choose organic, full fat dairy!


The information provided in this post is for education only and is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor should it be used as a replacement for seeking medical treatment.

Copyright © Jaime Coffey Martinez, MS RD    Nutrition CPR, LLC