There’s milk, then there’s A2 Milk. Do you know the difference?

Here is the lowdown on the differences between A1 and A2 milk. Confused? Find out what’s best for your little one’s tummy

A1 and A2 milk
A1 and A2 milk, do you know the difference?

Everyone knows that milk is a vital source of calcium to build strong bones and healthy teeth. It’s also a natural source of carbohydrate for energy and contains protein for growth and development, right? Yes, got it.
But here’s what you probably didn’t know.
There are two main types of proteins found in cow’s milk, namely casein and whey, which make up to 80% and 20% of the protein content of the milk respectively. And 30-35% of the major casein component (equivalent to two teaspoons in a litre of milk or one third of the milk’s total protein content) is known as beta-casein
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A2 beta-casein
There are two types of beta-casein: A1 and A2. While the difference between A1 and A2 is only one amino acid (protein building blocks) out of the usual 209 present, this tiny change greatly affects the protein composition of the milk, resulting in the protein (and thus the milk) having different properties.
Human breast milk, goat and sheep’s milk, and certain varieties of cow’s milk, all naturally contain the A2 beta casein.
So, why is A2 better?
The difference is simple. The effect on our own and the precious little tummies we look after. The consensus between both health care professionals and consumers is that A2 milk doesn’t provide any of the digestive discomfort which is often experienced from drinking cow’s milk.
Dr Alex Richardson, Senior Research Fellow at Oxford University suggests, “In my experience, many people who don’t have classic allergic reactions to cows’ milk protein nonetheless react badly to ordinary A1 cows’ milk (and products made from this), but can happily consume A2 milk without experiencing any of the same problems. Sensitivity to the opioid peptide BCM-7, which is produced from A1 but not A2 milk, could help to explain why this is so.”
While Dr Richardson concludes that more research is needed to fully understand this sensitivity, could A2 milk be the answer to the growing global population that is affected by cow’s milk allergies and discomfort
Can you tell the difference between an a1 and a2 cow?
Can you tell the difference between an A1 and A2 milk cow?

How is A2 milk made?
The answer is yes and no. A2 milk comes from cows that are specially hand-picked (also known as comprehensive herd selection) to naturally produce only A2 protein and no A1. But, it is important to note that while drinking A2 milk will address digestive discomfort, it is not organic,  nor is it to be used as a milk substitute for infants or adults with cow milk protein allergies.
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A2 milk will usually contain roughly the same quantity of lactose that is found in standard milk too, and therefore is not a cure for anyone who is lactose intolerant. Furthermore, A2 milk contains all of the proteins that you would find in regular cow’s milk, except for the A1 beta-casein protein, hence people suffering from any type of cows’ milk allergies will not be able to drink A2 milk either.
Other products produced using A2 milk include thickened cream, infant formula, ice cream and yogurts.
The a2 Milk Company founded in New Zealand in 2000, is the first and only company worldwide producing a2 Milk™ and sells mostly in Australia, New Zealand, China, United States and the United Kingdom. “Originally all cows’ milk only contained the A2 protein type and no A1 protein type. That’s why we say a2 Milk™ is the original milk”, says the company on its website.
According to a2 Milk Company, the percentage of the A1 and A2 beta-casein protein varies between herds, countries and provinces. African and Asian cattle are known to continue to naturally produce only A2 beta-casein, whilst herds in Europe (excluding France), USA, Australia and New Zealand produce the A1 beta-casein type in their milk.
How do you feel about your milk? Is it time to swap to a healthier alternative?
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This article was written for Parents World by Priyanka Elhence. Priyanka is a busy mom of 9 yr old twin boys. She writes on anything from lifestyle and dining to parenting and celebrity profiles.