How Much Calcium In Low Fat Milk


How Much Calcium In Low Fat Milk? Calcium is an important mineral for proper cell function in the human body. It’s often used as a key ingredient in a variety of supplements, foods, drinks and candies because it’s beneficial to our health. Calcium is the most abundant mineral in your body, with more than 99 percent present in your bones and teeth. Calcium also plays a critical role in blood clotting, nerve transmission and muscle contraction. Since it’s significant for bone health, many people are concerned about consuming enough calcium. Milk is a great source of calcium, so let’s take a look at how much calcium is in low fat milk.

How Much Calcium In Low Fat Milk

Yes, nonfat milk (also called skim milk and fat-free milk) provides the same vitamins and minerals as whole milk — with no fat. Because the fat portion of whole milk does not contain calcium, you can lose the fat without losing any calcium.

Reduced-fat (2%), low-fat (1%), and nonfat milk have vitamin A and vitamin D added, since these vitamins are lost when the fat is removed. Natural levels of vitamin D are low, so most milk producers add vitamin D to whole milk. Check the nutrition facts label to learn more about vitamins and minerals in milk

Does Low-Fat Milk Have Less Calcium?

Calcium is an essential nutrient important for your nerves, muscles, hormones, bones and teeth. Insufficient amounts of dietary calcium can cause osteoporosis, a condition in which bones become porous and weak. According to the Office of Dietary Supplements, many teenage girls and older adults in the U.S. fall short of meeting their dietary calcium requirements. Milk and other dairy products are good sources of calcium; however, the amount of calcium found in dairy products varies by type and fat content.

Calcium Requirements

The amount of calcium you need each day varies depending on your age and gender. According to the Institute of Medicine, adults require 1,000 milligrams of calcium each day; however, men older than 70 and women older than 50 need 1,200 milligrams per day. Women over age 50 and men older than 70 generally have a higher risk for osteoporosis and consume less than desirable intakes of calcium, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements. Children ages 9 to 18 require 1,300 milligrams of calcium, children ages 4 to 8 need 1,000 milligrams and children ages 1 to 3 require 700 milligrams of calcium each day.

Calcium In Milk

Most varieties of cow’s milk contain between 275 and 300 milligrams of calcium per cup, or about 30 percent of your daily value. Reducing fat content in milk slightly increases its calcium content. This is because the fat in milk doesn’t contain calcium, according to KidsHealth. One cup of whole milk contains 276 milligrams of calcium, while 1 cup of 2-percent or fat-free milk contains 293 milligrams or 299 milligrams of calcium per cup, respectively. Although the fat content in milk only slightly affects its calcium content, choosing low-fat or fat-free milk instead of whole milk can significantly reduce your daily calorie intake for healthy weight management.

Other Sources Of Calcium

Milk isn’t the only good source of calcium. Other foods with similar calcium contents include buttermilk, yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese, calcium-fortified juices, calcium-fortified soy milk or almond milk, tofu and calcium-fortified ready-to-eat cereals. About 43 percent of Americans take dietary supplements containing calcium, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements.

It’s best to obtain at least some of your calcium from foods, because most high-calcium foods are also high in protein. A study published in a 2004 edition of “Obesity Research” found that increasing dietary calcium accelerated weight loss and fat loss during periods of calorie restriction; weight and fat losses were greatest in subjects who consumed a diet high in dairy foods compared with subjects who consumed a standard diet plus calcium supplements.


Although it’s important to consume enough calcium each day, too much calcium can lead to health problems such as constipation, kidney stones and interference with zinc and iron absorption. To avoid possible health complications from excessive calcium, don’t exceed tolerable upper intake levels of 2,000 milligrams for adults older than 50; 2,500 milligrams for children ages 1 to 8, adults ages 19 to 50, pregnant women and breastfeeding women; and 3,000 milligrams of calcium each day for children ages 9 to 18.

Which Type Of Milk Is Healthiest?

Whole, non-fat, reduced, skimmed, almond, soy, rice — the grocery store milk aisle keeps expanding. We’ve come far from the days of simply choosing plain or chocolate. The many options can seem overwhelming when all you want is something to pour over your morning cereal or put in your coffee. So, what’s the skinny on milk?

The Basics Of Cow Milk

The USDA recommends about three cups of milk a day for adults and children age 9 and older to help meet daily dietary needs for nutrients such as bone-strengthening calcium and vitamin D. But what type of cow’s milk is best for you? It depends on what you want and need in your diet.

Nearly every store carries whole, reduced-fat and skim milk, but some might not know what those terms really mean. When milk is processed, different levels of fat can be taken out (or skimmed).

  • Whole milk is cow’s milk that hasn’t had its fat content stripped. The milk retains its fat (about 3.5 percent) and is slightly thick.
  • Reduced-fat milk retains 2 percent of fat.
  • Skim milk, (also known as fat-free or non-fat milk) contains no fat at all. This processing lowers calories and slightly alters the milk’s taste.

Reduced-fat and skim milk lose nutritional benefits when processed. Most producers then fortify their milk with solids to restore vitamins and thickness, although fortification is controversial. In addition, the practice of giving cows added growth hormones (rBST) to aid in milk production is also contentious.

Some milk producers have started offering rBST-free milk that comes from grass-fed, free-range cows to address these concerns. According to the Cleveland Clinic, not only do grass-fed cows make milk with significantly more beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, but because they are less stressed than conventionally raised cows, they also tend to produce more milk and richer milk.

The Benefits

Milk provides several key dietary requirements, but the levels of nutrients in each milk type can vary slightly.

Reduced-fat and skim milk retain roughly the same amount of protein as whole milk but lose some of their vitamin content during processing and fat removal. Vitamins A and D, which are fat-soluble, are added back through fortification.

Here is a breakdown of the amount of protein, potassium and calcium found in a single serving (one cup) of each type of milk.

  • Whole milk contains 8 grams of protein, 9 percent of your daily value of potassium, and 27 percent of your daily value of calcium.
  • Reduced-fat milk contains 8 grams of protein, 9 percent of your daily value of potassium, and 29 percent of your daily value of calcium.
  • Skim milk contains 8 grams of protein, 10 percent of your daily value of potassium, and 29 percent of your daily value of calcium.

Here is a breakdown of the amount of vitamin A and vitamin D found in a single serving (one cup) of each type of milk.

  • Whole milk contains 5 percent of your daily value of vitamin A and 24 percent of your daily value of vitamin D.
  • After fortification, reduced-fat milk contains 9 percent of your daily value of vitamin A and 29 percent of your daily value of vitamin D.
  • After fortification, skim milk contains 10 percent of your daily value of vitamin A and 25 percent of your daily value of vitamin D.

Which Is Better For Health?

Reduced-fat milk and skim milk have fewer calories and higher amounts of vitamins than whole milk (thanks to fortification). They also have less saturated fat, which has been shown in studies to raise your “bad” cholesterol and put you at a higher risk for heart disease. But reduced-fat milk and skim milk often contain more added sugar than whole milk, which is also a no-no.

While skim and reduced-fat milk might seem appealing to those who are trying to lose weight, there is a lot of debate as to whether they are more beneficial than whole milk for weight loss.

  • The large amount of added sugar in skim and reduced-fat milk is a problem for some.
  • Others take issue with possible health implications of the fortification process.
  • Studies say the saturated fat in whole milk might help you feel more satisfied and full longer than drinking reduced-fat or skim milk.

Whichever type you prefer, when picking the type of cow’s milk that’s the best fit for you, weigh the benefits of each and determine which one fills the requirements of your personal nutritional needs and preferences.

The Basics Of Milk Alternatives

If dairy isn’t an option for you (based on your taste preference, or if you are a vegan, vegetarian or have lactose restrictions) there are several milk alternatives available on the market. Like reduced-fat and skim milk, some vitamins and nutrients are usually added to the milk alternatives through fortification, although with non-dairy components.

With all varieties, choose the unsweetened versions. Milk and milk alternatives can double their amount of sugar if they are sweetened with added sugars.

1. Almond milk 

Almond milk is plant-based and made by grinding almonds into a pulp. The pulp is mixed with water and then strained. Almond milk is consumable by vegans and is naturally lactose-free.

Even though almonds are a good source of protein, almond milk is not. A cup of unsweetened almond milk has about 1 gram of protein compared to 8 grams of protein per cup of cow’s milk. But on the plus side, almond milk is much lower in calories and sugar compared to cow’s milk and contains very little saturated fat.

It’s a good source of vitamin A and potassium and is often fortified to be a good source of vitamin D. Almond milk naturally has calcium and is also fortified with it, which makes it substantially higher in calcium per serving than cow’s milk.

2. Soy Milk

Soy milk is created by the suspension of soybean flour in water. This widely used milk alternative is plant-based and consumed by both vegans and the lactose-intolerant.

It’s a good source of protein (as much as cow’s milk), and is much lower in calories than whole milk (it has about the same calories as reduced-fat milk). It also contains very little saturated fat.

Soy milk is a good source of vitamin A and potassium, and is often fortified to be a good source of calcium and vitamin D.

However, soy is also a common allergen, so people who are allergic to soy should not drink soy milk. Also, most of the soy in the U.S. comes from genetically modified plants, which is a concern to some. In addition, too much soy may be a problem for people with thyroid disease or other conditions.

What about soy milk and breast cancer? The latest research is mixed. Says the Susan. G. Komen website, “The effects of soy in people with breast cancer are unclear. Some research finds that soy might ‘feed’ certain breast cancers because it can act like estrogen. Other studies have found that soy seems to protect against breast cancer. The difference in effects might have something to do with the amount taken. Because there isn’t enough reliable information about the effects of soy in women with breast cancer, a history of breast cancer, or a family history of breast cancer, it’s best to avoid using soy until more is known.”

3. Rice Milk

Rice milk is made from milled white or brown rice. It’s the least likely of all of milk products to cause allergies, which makes it a good choice for people with allergies to dairy, soy, or nuts.

Rice milk can be fortified to be a good source of calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin D. However, rice milk is high in sugar, carbohydrates and calories and is low in protein.

The Bottom Line

Milk can be a powerhouse component of a healthy diet. It’s best to determine your personal dietary needs when picking the milk type that is right for you. As always, consider things like your current weight, your current diet, your level of activity and other factors like age.

Consult a dietitian for any questions you have about your personal nutrition, your dairy intake, alternative non-dairy resources and any changes you want to make in your diet.

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