Milk is important to provide us protein, calcium, Vitamin D and other important nutrients. The USDA recommends adults get 3 cups of dairy every day. This can come from milk, yogurt, cheese, and even ice cream. However most people, myself included, would spend all day with an upset stomach if we followed this recommendation solely with dairy products, due to lactose intolerance. This blog is going to explore dairy and alternative products so that we can keep key nutrients in mind while picking out our dairy alternatives.


Cow’s milk: Provides a great source of carb, protein and fat (with the exception of  skim milk). As fat is taken out of milk, so are the fat soluble vitamins (namely, Vitamins A and D), so they must be added back in.  The major drawback to cow’s milk is that many people have lactose sensitivities.


Goat milk: Contains very little lactose, but is still high calcium and protein. It is more easily digested than cow’s milk.


Soy milk: One of the most common dairy alternative and is a high quality protein, high in fiber, and high in calcium and Vitamin D. One downside to soy is that it is a common allergen. An added bonus to soy is that it a source of phytoestrogens, which may help relieve menopausal symptoms.


Almond milk: One of the lowest in calories but is also low in protein. Almond milk is high in antioxidants and in monounsaturated fats, which are the healthy fats. A lot of consumers agree that almond milk has the best taste.


Flax milk: High in omega-3 fatty acids that are serve as an anti inflammatory. While it is low in calories, there is no protein in flax milk.


Coconut milk: Very high in saturated fat, and it is controversial whether or not this saturated fat is better for us than other saturated fats that are typically linked to cardiovascular disease. Be sure calcium and vitamin D have to be added so that it can be comparable to cow’s milk. There is no protein in coconut milk, so this must be considered if you depend on this dairy alternative.


Below is a short list comparing nutrition facts amongst these and other milk products:

Vitamin D milk Skim milk goat Soy


hemp Almond (unsweetened) flax coconut
calories 103 80 140 80 160 40 50 80
fat 2.4 g 0g 7g 4g 5g 3g 2.5g 5g
  Sat fat 1.5 g 0g 4g 0.5g 0.5g 0g 0g 4.5 g
  PUFA 0.1 g 0g 2.4g 2.5g 4g 0g 1.5g
  MUFA 0.7 g 0g 1g 1g 0.5g 0g 0g
carb 12g 11g 11g 4g 24g 2g 7g 7g
  fiber 0g 0g 0g 2g 1g 1g 0 0g
  sugar 13g 11g 11g 1g 16g 1g 7g 7g
protein 8g 8g 8g 7g 3g 1g 0g 0g
calcium 30% 30% 25% 30% 50% 45% 30% 45%
Vitamin D 30% 30% 15% 30% 25% 25% 25%

*All measurements are based on one cup


If you do not have lactose sensitivities, there is no reason to switch from dairy milk, unless you are vegan or are simply interested in changing things up. Dairy is a great source of lots of nutrients, so if you must change to a non-dairy alternative, it is important to understand what each milk has to offer and/ or is lacking. I hope this helps 🙂

Kirsten Keay – Nutrition & Dietetic Professional