A2 Me Too? Should I Be Milking Its Benefits?

Published on October 15, 2019 by Seraphina Seow
Photo by Hamza Khalid from Pexels

You have probably seen the TV commercials and news reports on A2 milk.

You may have even had family members urgently advising you to switch to this product, because they’ve heard it can lower your risk for type 1 diabetes, heart disease, autism, and schizophrenia.

They’ve also heard that it is better for those who cannot tolerate lactose.

So, what do we currently know about A2 milk? Should you be spending the extra dollars for it?

What does A2 even mean?

In cow’s milk there is a protein called beta-casein. There are two types of beta-casein, A1 and A2.

Certain cows with select genes are said to produce milk that only has A2 beta-caseins or produce milk with more A2 than A1 beta-caseins.

Does A2 milk protect me from diseases?

The claim is that when you digest A1 milk, a component called betacasomorphin-7 (ΒCM-7), is formed and this increases your risk of some diseases like type 1 diabetes and heart disease.

Although when you look closely at the research, the studies do not have a very conclusive result.1,2,3

Experts have not concluded that there is a clear and strong link, and are still looking to do more research on humans that is preferably not funded by the companies that sell A2 Milk.1,2,3

A2 milk sounds promising for gut symptoms, but unbiased research is needed. Image credit: Pexels/Pixabay
A2 milk sounds promising for gut symptoms, but unbiased research is needed. Image credit: Pexels/Pixabay

Will A2 milk feel better in my stomach and gut compared to regular milk?

The four human studies we have so far found that those who drank A2 milk had less bloating, stomach pain and diarrhoea, compared to those who drank regular milk.4,5,6,7

However, no one is ready yet to make a public health announcement, because all of these studies were funded by companies that sell A2 milk.

Is there a risk for my health if I drink A2 milk?

If you are intolerant to lactose, you will still need to watch the amount of A2 Milk that you drink, because A2 Milk has the same amount of lactose as regular milk.

If you have a dairy or milk allergy, steer away from A2 Milk. Remember that A2 is a type of beta-casein, and people with dairy or milk allergy react to casein (and/or whey) in milk.

Other than that, there are currently no documented adverse effects of drinking A2 milk. 

References:

  1. European Food Safety Authority. EFSA Scientific Report. Review of the potential health impact of b-casomorphins and related peptides. EFSA Journal. 2009 Feb 3;7(2):1-107. DOI: 10.2903/j.efsa.2009.231r.
  2. Swinburn B. Beta casein A1 and A2 in milk and human health. Report to New Zealand Food Safety Authority. Melbourne, Australia; 2004.
  3. Palmer, D. FSANZ sees no need to distinguish A1 and A2 milk based on research available. Australian Food News. Food for Thought. 2009 Mar 3.
  4. Ho S, Woodford K, Kukuljan S, Pal S. Comparative effects of A1 versus A2 beta-casein on gastrointestinal measures: a blinded randomised cross-over pilot study. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2014 Sep;68(9):994-1000. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2014.127. Epub 2014 Jul 2.
  5. Jianqin S, Leiming X, Lu X, Yelland GW, Ni J, Clarke AJ. Effects of milk containing only A2 beta casein versus milk containing both A1 and A2 beta casein proteins on gastrointestinal physiology, symptoms of discomfort, and cognitive behavior of people with self-reported intolerance to traditional cows’ milk. Nutr J. 2016;15:35 Published online 2016 Apr 2. doi: 10.1186/s12937-016-0147-z.
  6. He M, Sun J, Jianz ZQ, Xang YX. Effect of cow’s milk beta-casein variants on symptoms of milk intolerance in Chinese adults: a multicentre, randomised controlled study. 2017 Oct 25;16(1):72. doi: 10.1186/s12937-017-0275-0.
  7. Sheng X, Li Z, Ni J, Yelland G. Effects of Conventional Milk Versus Milk Containing Only A2 β-Casein on Digestion in Chinese Children: A Randomized Study. Journal of pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition. 2019 Sep;69(3):375.

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