A1 vs. A2 Milk: What’s the Difference?

| Kelsey | | 5 Comments

A2 milk does not look any different than A1 milk when placed side-by-side. To the uninitiated, one looks just as good as the other. While they may appear similar, there is a marked difference that can mean the difference between enjoying a tall glass of milk and having unpleasant side effects afterward. That is because, despite appearances, one of these kinds of milk is not like the other.

A1 milk has something A2 milk is missing, and that is not necessarily a good thing. Raw milk aficionados familiar with both know exactly what A2 milk is lacking: the 67th amino acid in the chain. If you are asking yourself, “the 67th what now?”, let me explain.

What does A1 and A2 mean?

Before I can take a deep dive into which is better, I should probably explain what A1 and A2 mean. Both are proteins found in the casein family. Cow’s milk consists of 80 percent casein protein, which provides the human body with all the amino acids it needs to build healthy muscle. Casein is a superior form of protein. The body digests it more slowly than other proteins, which can make it more effective at reducing appetite.

Both contain 209 amino acids. As I already mentioned, where they differ is in the 67th amino acid in the chain. A1 milk has a histidine amino acid, whereas A2 milk has a proline amino acid. Why does this matter? Well, when A1 milk breaks down during digestion, it creates the peptide BCM-7. Peptides can impact our blood pressure, immune system, and even how our blood clots. It also can cause what some people like to call “intestinal discomfort.”

A2 milk is bio-available, which means the human body can absorb lots of it without unpleasant side effects. It also does not have the penchant for creating BCM-7.

All cows produce some A2 beta-casein, but only a few breeds produce only A2.

Which is better for dairy allergies?

An estimated 6.1 percent of people in the U.S. alone have a diagnosed dairy allergy. But are they allergic to all milk, or something in specific kinds of milk? Some scientists believe it is the latter of the two. Some people mistakenly believe it is the lactose in milk that causes them digestive upset. Lactose is basically the natural sugar found in milk and other dairy products.

Lactose intolerance and dairy allergy are not the same things. Some people who believe they are lactose intolerant find they still cannot consume lactose-free milk products without unpleasant side effects like bloating, diarrhea, and gas. If this describes you, it is possible you are not lactose intolerant at all, but rather have an A1 beta-casein allergy. Scientists believe that since it takes less time to digest A2 milk than A1 milk, it can reduce gastrointestinal inflammation and other GI issues.

Where does A1 milk come from?

A1 milk comes from dairy cow breeds that originated in Northern Europe. This includes Ayrshire, British Shorthorn, Holstein, and Fresian cows. When consumers go to the grocery store or anywhere else that sells milk in the U.S., they most likely see A1 milk options on the shelves. Roughly 12,000 retailers now sell A2 milk as an option, including big box stores like Costco, Kroger, Meijer, Publix, Target, Trader Joe’s, Walmart, and Whole Foods. Depending on where you live, consumers also can buy A2 milk directly from homesteaders and small dairy farms with cows that produce A2 milk.

Health benefits of A2 milk

Another advantage A2 milk has over A1 milk is its health benefits, especially when consumers drink A2 raw milk. We drink raw A2 milk here on our homestead from our Jersey cow. Avoiding pasteurization keeps all the nutrients intact in our milk (and there are a lot of them). Raw Jersey milk has seven vitamins and minerals the human body needs to flourish, including calcium, vitamin D, and phosphorous. Why are all these nutrients and vitamins important? They help build and maintain healthy bones. Just one cup of raw A2 milk contains 146 calories, 8 grams of protein, and 8 grams of healthy fat.

Some evidence exists to support that drinking raw A2 milk reduces the rates of allergies and asthma, as well as eczema and respiratory infections. It loses these benefits once heated past 149 degrees Fahrenheit, which is why I recommend drinking raw A2 milk instead of a pasteurized version. Only 11 states allow the retail sale of raw milk and milk products. They include Arizona, California, Connecticut, Idaho, Maine, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Washington.

Another perk of drinking raw A2 milk is it can help prevent weight gain. It has been drilled into our heads that skim milk is what we should drink if we want to keep the pounds off. Nothing could be further from the truth. Skim milk contains added sugars, which commercial dairies put in there to help it taste more appealing. Why do they need to do that? Well, skim milk lacks butterfat, which is where all the tasty stuff is in milk. So, to make up for removing all the yummy goodness that naturally comes in milk, dairy producers add sugar (aka, empty calories).

A2 milk wins hands down

If you have not figured it out yet, our household is pro A2 milk for these and many other reasons not listed here. Raw is best, but if you cannot get your hands on it, the next best thing is to buy a commercial version if it is available in your state.

In our kitchen, we only use cultures from Cultures for Health.
Get yours here and start culturing today.

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Hi there! I’m Kelsey! I am a wife, a mother and homesteader. I’m also a Certified Natural Health Practitioner so health is very important to me. I love to help people with their health journey. A HUGE part of that process is through high quality milk. I am a massive proponent of rich, high quality milk from Jersey Cows.

Comments (5)

  • I am new to considering a milk cow. I have wanted one for years, to no avail. We have black angus cattle herd. So I am not completely new to have cows around.
    We would pasteurize because a cousin became very ill from not doing this and also my husband wouldn’t have it any other way. If pasteurization kills the vitamin C and other nutrients besides harmful bacteria then is there still a benefit to having your own milk cow? My children and myself have allergies, can’t have dairy(me), skin issues(eczema). I don’t drink milk at all and haven’t for 20 some years. My kids get sinus infection from it when they drink more than once or twice a week. My friend has a milk cow and her family is skinny and trim. I have noticed this among others whom I know that buy fresh milk as well (from Amish). We live very naturally because that is how I was raised.

    • HI Amber!

      First, even if you pasteurize, I still feel it is better than buying store bought. You can do a low pasteurization or a flash pasteurization that won’t kill as much of the good stuff. Milking cleanliness is also so important. We have been drinking raw milk for years and have never had a problem. We regularly get our milk tested for Mastitis, bacteria and overall cleanliness of our milking process. So we have no hesitation. But you can definitely pasteurize if that is what you would like to do.

      For the allergy part, take a look at my story. You can make Keffir from your milk which has no lactose and the probiotics are fantastic for you.

      Happy milking!

  • What questions should i ask a farmer about the way they sanitize before they milk, if I want to buy natural milk? Also is store bought organic, ultra pasteurized whole milk still more healthy than non organic?

    • Hi Deb! Thanks for commenting.

      I would ask the following:

      1. What is their standard for cleanliness around the farm?
      2. How do they clean and sanitize their milking machine?
      3. What is their cleaning procedure for the udder?
      4. Do they use iodine or some other disinfecting teat dip?
      5. Do they get their milk tested for mastitis and bacteria?
      6. How do they process the milk (do they filter it before bottling)?
      7. Do they sterilize their jars and lids or use sterile plastic jugs?

      These questions should point you in the right direction and any good farmer, will answer these and any others you might not think of. As far as Organic store bought milk vs. regular milk, I think it is a notch higher in quality. But you’re still not getting all the nutrients you should be getting from milk. That is why I’m a huge proponent of drinking milk the way God intended. If the farmer does things right, raw milk is so amazing.

      Hope this helps!

  • The reason I consume raw milk, and raw milk cheese (preferably below 142.7F processing temperatures), is because they’re great food for me, and are much less (or non) congestive and much less (or non) inflammatory than pasteurized milk, – homogenized being most congestive. Grass/Pasture emphasis is of course preferred. Most disease of the general body system is a matter of congestion, which is mostly due to starches, including animals consumed which are mainly fed starches,… and pasteurized milk adds to the congestion element.

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