Thursday, March 4, 2010

Milk as Food

From the earliest historical times, all civilized nations have used milk and its product as food. It has long been observed that mankind seems to have a natural craving for milk, which is especially noticeable when he is completely deprived of milk and dairy products for several months. Its importance as a food for infants is also generally recognized. However, the full explanation of the important relations of milk to the diet has been forthcoming only within the past quarter of a century.

The proteins must not only be ample in amount but of suitable kinds and quality. Proteins for grains and vegetables are best made up by the use of some animal protein. Off all animal proteins, those of milk are the best adapted for making up what is lacking in a ration largely composed of cereals.

The second remarkable discovery that greatly emphasizes the value of milk as food was that of the vitamins . These substances, of which at least fourteen have been discovered so far, are necessary either for the growth or other functions of the young and for the well-being of mature humans and animals.

They are produced primarily by plants, from which source man and animals must get them directly or indirectly. Four or five of the more important vitamins are found abundantly in milk, and many of the others to a lesser degree. One of these, vitamin D, is being added by various procedures to an increasing bulk of market milk. No other single food contains so many of the known vitamins, so that man has come to depend largely upon milk and dairy products for several of these indispensable substances.

A third great advance that has been made in the knowledge of nutrition concerns the mineral requirements. It has long been known that certain minerals are necessary for both man and animals. Only in recent years, however, has the extent to which man and domestic animals suffer from a deficiency of certain minerals been recognized. Lime is the substance most often lacking, although phosphorus — and at times iodine — are also consumed in too small quantities. Milk is an especially good source of lime and phosphorus.

The experience of mankind for thousands of years has shown the absolute need of milk in the diet. Furthermore, the reasons why milk is an absolute necessity in the human diet are now under¬stood and, as a result, the consumption of dairy products in the future is certain to increase. It is also shown that the cow re-turns more human food from a given amount of feed than any other domestic animal.


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