The impact of regular milk vs A2 milk on human health

Regular cowmilk has always been the gold standard for health, providing the necessary blend of calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12, phosphorus and riboflavin and niacin.

With new protein sources on the horizon the dairy industry needs to innovate too, with customers in mind who expect products that are good for them and of which they feel the benefit. Producers are under pressure to get their new products to the market quickly, safely, and in the best possible condition. Transparency  and supporting evidence that what they state on their products is correct, is important to build and strengthen brand loyalty.

One of the potential innovations in dairy is the upcoming of A2 milk. But what is this all about and what impact does it have?

Some people have gastrointestinal distress from regular cow milk. Typical cow milk contains both A1 and A2 beta casein protein, major casein proteins. Casein makes about 80% of the total protein in cowmilk. For humans A2 milk is marketed as the healthier choice versus regular milk. Regular milk contains the proteins beta casein A1 and A2, whereas A2 milk contains only beta casein A2. The only difference between beta casein A1 and A2 is a difference in the 67th amino acid in the protein chain. As a result of this small change in amino acid composition a specific peptide can be formed upon digestion: peptide BCM-7. BCM-7 is not formed from beta casein A2.

There is a lot of debate in scientific literature which health benefits and which adverse effects each of these caseins could have in human beings, because of e.g. this difference in BCM-7 formation. This varies from gastrointestinal distress, an effect on the development of diabetes type 1 and 2 and  impact on heart disease. There are also mentions of links to schizophrenia and even autism.

True or not, it is another opportunity for the dairy industry to drive growth with specialized differentiating offers. Products that can possibly claim special characteristics such as fewer allergens and specific nutrient profiles as we already see in the rise of grass-fed cows.

Is it A1 or A2?

To be able to state on your product that it contains certain levels of A2 casein, is it is important to be able to distinguish regular milk from A2 milk and to analyse levels of casein A2. NIZO has ample experience in analysing beta casein A1 and A2 and has done so for many customers in the past. With our advanced analytical skills and knowledge of dairy proteins, NIZO can execute and interpret the results of these analyses. Customers value especially the applicable advise. It helps them to secure the quality of the products they want to market. The analysis of beta casein A1 and A2 can also be used to select cattle for production of A2 milk as well as for quality control.

Is A1 or A2 still present after processing? 

Another aspect which is important, is the impact of processing on the product properties & functionality of proteins including both beta-caseins. With extensive knowledge around heating, drying, separation, evaporation etc. NIZO is able to investigate the impact of processing. For our customers we ran projects to protect and predict the impact of processing on bioactivity, improve process efficiency including energy consumption, yields and improve powder functionality. At NIZO, we are able to optimize unit operations by predicting the right configuration required to obtain for example optimal wetting rates and optimal process settings with increased spray dryer performance and minimal fouling based on the sticky point of the powder and other parameters. Our combined approach of transferring process simulated input parameters into production, maximizes yield whilst maintaining powder functionality, protein behaviour or bioactivity.

More information around NIZO’s processing capabilities can be found here.

Does A1 or A2 have a particular health benefit? 

After establishing the presence of beta casein A1 and/or A2 NIZO can also help to build health claims around these caseins. With our unique knowledge of digestion models, in-vitro assays, Human Challenge Models and large experience in clinical trials in our clinical trial unit, we support our customers in building health claims around specific ingredients such as beta casein A1 or A2.

For more information, contact our Business Development Manager Dairy & Cultures Matin Ham.

Any questions?

Martin Ham is happy to answer all your questions.

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