Milk contains more than a hundred chemical compounds and it is primarily known as an excellent source of calcium, but even more importantly milk contains all the amino acids needed by the body. In addition, milk serves as a source of milk sugar, i.e. lactose, potassium and vitamin B12, while unpasteurised milk (crude milk) also contains magnesium. Milk can also give us vitamin D, which is added to various dairy products specifically for facilitating the absorption of calcium.

The most commonly consumed milk in the world is cows’ milk. Total agricultural milk production is about 500 million tonnes per year, 85% of which is cows’ milk. Other commonly consumed types of milk include goats’ milk, sheep’s milk and buffalo milk, as well as the milks of other animals in some regions.

Calcium, which is abundant in milk, is one of the most important minerals. Calcium deficiency can lead to a number of diseases, and, while they do not manifest immediately, long-term calcium deficiency can severely harm the body. It can lead to depression, cramps, memory loss, etc.

Dairy products primarily provide us with essential calcium, which is necessary for keeping our bones strong and ensuring the health of our teeth, nails and hair. It is important to note that, in order to absorb calcium, our body also needs vitamin D, the deficiency of which is all too common here in northern latitudes. However, the role of magnesium in helping to absorb both calcium and vitamin D should not be forgotten either. Low magnesium levels in the body can lead to both calcium and vitamin D deficiency even at sufficient dietary intake. Additionally, for absorbing calcium, our body needs vitamin K, omega-3 fatty acids, boron, silicon, and zinc.

According to data from the Estonian Osteoporosis Society, a study carried out among Estonians of 25–70 years of age showed that the average amount of vitamin D in our blood is significantly lower than normal throughout the year, while only three out of one hundred Estonians had an optimal level of vitamin D in the winter. In addition to sun exposure, vitamin D can also be obtained from dietary supplements, although various healthy and beneficial foods can also help. For example, vitamin D can be found in saltwater fish (salmon, trout, herring, tuna), fish liver oil and, to some extent, in eggs, mushrooms and organic beef.