What Is A2 Milk? Nutrition and Benefits

Some people are sensitive to dairy or have been diagnosed with lactose intolerance. People with lactose intolerance don’t make enough lactase, which can lead to symptoms like gas, bloating, flatulence, stomach cramping, and diarrhea. Avoiding dairy products or taking Lactaid (lactase enzymes) is recommended to manage symptoms. However, eliminating all dairy products can leave a gap in your diet. A2 is a newer milk variety that seems to be better tolerated by some lactose-intolerant people, although it is actually not lactose-free. Keep reading to learn more about this gut-friendly beverage.

What is A2 milk?

A2 milk is a cow’s milk that only contains a beta-casein protein called A2. This differs from traditional cow’s milk, which contains both A1 and A2 beta-casein protein and can be harder for people to digest. When A1 beta-casein is broken down, it creates a peptide (a short chain of amino acids) that can cause inflammatory responses in the gut, similar to symptoms of lactose intolerance.

The beverage was pioneered by a New Zealand business called The A2 Milk Company. Since 2000, the company's founders have been interested in working with cattle exclusively carrying the A2A2 gene (the only cows that can produce A2 milk). Now, farmers worldwide, including in Canada, have purchased their own cattle and are marketing their milk as a gut-friendly option.

Although the protein makeup in A2 milk varies from regular cow’s milk, it still contains lactose. Companies and brands that sell A2 milk clearly state that their product is inappropriate for people diagnosed with a protein allergy or lactose intolerance. If you have a sensitive stomach and choose to try A2 milk, you may have fewer digestive symptoms, but there’s no guarantee.

A2 milk nutrition

Let’s compare the nutritional values of A2 milk against regular cow’s milk. The following information has been pulled from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrient database. All serving sizes are approximately 240 mL (8 fl oz).

NutrientsLow-fat A2 milk (1%)Low-fat regular cow's milk (1%)Whole A2 milk (3.5%) Whole regular cow's milk (3.5%)
Protein 11 g8 g8 g8 g
Fat2.5 g2.5 g9 g8 g
Carbohydrates14 g13 g13 g12 g
Calcium 401 mg310 mg300 mg306 mg
Vitamin D 101 IU104 IU 95 IU 96 IU
Potassium 509 mg391 mg401 mg374 mg

Overall, the nutritional values are fairly similar. The fat content varies depending on the milk fat percentage (usually listed as MF% on a milk carton), but the protein is consistently 8 g per serving. The exception is low-fat A2 milk, which offers slightly higher amounts. Interestingly, low-fat A2 milk also has slightly more calcium content, but these beverages share a fairly equal nutritional composition.

Is A2 milk healthy?

A2 milk is similar to regular cow’s milk and offers comparable nutritional benefits. However, research demonstrated that people with lactose maldigestion who drank A2 produced less hydrogen and experienced less gas and flatulence.

There is no evidence that A2 milk is better for the general public than regular milk. As a consumer, you should know it can be more expensive, which is a barrier for some people. However, if you miss dairy and are sensitive to lactose, you may reach for A2 as your go-to milk option.

Benefits of A2 milk

A2 milk is currently being researched for its potential health benefits in digestive health and sports nutrition.

Dairy milk products are frequently recommended to athletes because they’re a natural source of carbohydrates and protein that can aid muscle repair. A2 milk might be a good option for athletes with a sensitive stomach because it provides the same nutritional benefits as milk but may have fewer digestive symptoms.

Can A2 milk support heart health?

It was hypothesized that A2 milk could lower cholesterol, but recent findings suggest no link between A2 milk consumption and better cardiovascular outcomes. Choosing foods with lower amounts of saturated fats is recommended to optimize your cholesterol levels. For this reason, you may be better off drinking skim milk or other low-fat options (like 1% milk).

A2 milk vs. regular milk: are they different?

Consumers state that A2 milk tastes the same as regular milk. The creaminess varies on the milk fat content, but both types of drinks have the same milky taste.

The protein content in all cow milk is largely from casein sources but also partly whey. Only some dairy cattle can produce A2 milk, and cattle breeds like Jersey, Normande, and Brown Swiss are more likely to carry the A2A2 gene than traditional Holsteins.

Due to the protein present in cow’s milk and A2 milk, it is not an appropriate option for anyone living with a milk protein allergy. Although it contains unique properties, A2 milk still has protein, which could trigger an allergic reaction.

Final word

A2 milk is a newer food product with only one type of casein protein, making it unique from regular cow’s milk. It may be easier for some people to digest, but everyone’s experiences will be unique.

People with lactose intolerance should not assume they can tolerate A2 milk. Although some people have found it easier to digest, it still contains lactose, and it’s impossible to know how your digestive system will react to the product. Trying lactose-free milk might be a better option.


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