How Milk and Dairy can Help Build Immunity


In the wake of the worldwide pandemic, adequate nutrition is crucial for a well-functioning immune system. 

Cells of the immune system require fuel from glucose, amino acids and fats, as well as several vitamins and minerals. Amino acids from protein are key components of a strong immune system while vitamins A, C, D and E protect the cells from free radicals.

Milk that has  been fortified with additional nutrients, is a product that can have all of these nutrients.

Certain nutrients play an important role in supporting a healthy immune system such as vitamins A, C, D, E, B2, B6, and B12, folic acid, iron, selenium, and zinc.

Dairy products like milk, cheese and yoghurt contain a range of important nutrients such as high quality protein, vitamin B2, vitamin B3, vitamin B12, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and in full fat varieties like full cream milk or whole cow’s milk, vitamin A. They also contain smaller quantities of nutrients like zinc, magnesium, folate and vitamin B6.

But not all milks are the same. While regular milk is healthy, imagine how much better it would be if it came from healthy cows eating natural food.

Milk from grass-fed cows is known to have higher omega-three fatty acid content (particularly C18:3 linolenic acid) and higher conjugated linoleic acid content than cows fed on supplementary feeds.  The milk has higher levels of vitamin E and beta-carotene. There is also higher natural vitamin D due to the cow’s exposure to sunlight.

Milk and dairy products from grass fed cows are not only great sources of nutrition, but are also a common vehicle for people to consume probiotics and prebiotics. These help boost our immunity by promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria in our gut.  A healthy interaction between our immune system and the gut microbiota is crucial for the maintenance of our body’s health.

New Zealand is well-known for its grass-fed cows. It is one of the few places in the world where cows can graze on grass, year-round. New Zealand cows consume on average 96 percent of their diet as grass, which is well above the 92% minimum amount of grass in the diet of dairy cows.

With all the milk and dairy products in the market, it can be easy to settle on just any product.

But when it comes to your health, it’s important to know where your food comes from and to choose what you know and believe is best for you and your family’s safety.


MacGibbon AKH and M.W. Taylor (2006) Composition and Structure of Bovine Milk Lipids in Advanced Dairy Chemistry Volume 2, Lipids, 3rd Ed, (P.F. Fox and P.L.H. McSweeney, eds.) Springer, New York, pp 1-43.

MacGibbon AKH and Rowan AM (2000) Conjugated Linoleic Acid. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society of New Zealand 25, 85-94.