A2 Milk

I talked here about the factors that persuaded us to get cows.  One that I didn’t mention – because I wasn’t certain if it was even going to be a factor – is the difference in the milk.  Namely, the A1/A2 debate.

This is all new to me so bear with me.  I’ve done quite a bit of reading about it and if I understand what I’m reading correctly, it boils down to this.  Among the many amino acids contained in milk, is one that has been dubbed A2.  Several decades ago, the A2 amino acid mutated into what is now referred to as A1.  The A1 amino acid is less digestible and can cause issues for people who consume dairy products.  These people generally assume they are “lactose intolerant”.

Holstein cows – a dairy breed – now primarily produce the A1 amino acid in their milk.  And, the commercial milk industry is comprised almost entirely of Holstein cows.  Therefore, the vast majority of the milk commercially available is A1 milk.

The A2 amino acid is far more digestible than A1.  Typically people who have long believed they are lactose intolerant can drink A2 milk without any issues at all.  In other words, they are not lactose intolerant at all but rather, A1 intolerant.

For several years, we have suspected that HWA is lactose intolerant.  He loves dairy products in all of their forms – milk on his cereal, cheese, yogurt and ice-cream.  However, the frequent unpleasant side effects of eating these foods have led to him largely avoiding them.

When my neighbor initially raised the subject of buying the cows, one of her selling points is that Jersey cows are usually A2 milk producers.  Not only that but any individual cow can be tested, and the cows she was looking at – and that we ultimately bought – had all been tested A2.  Like us, she has a family member who cannot tolerate dairy and she was hopeful that he would be able to drink the Jersey milk.

We’ve been milking for a few days now.  We’ve drunk milk by the glassful, made a small batch of cheese and last night HWA had a large bowl of cereal.  He woke up this morning and pronounced that there “must be something to this A2 thing” because he was suffering no ill effects whatsoever from his midnight cereal snack.

This is good news for him as we are cautiously hopeful that he will now be able to resume enjoying some of the foods he has missed.  And it is great news in general since our one cow is producing enough milk to keep her calf healthy and happy, and supply the milk needs of two families as well.  The argument we have each time we milk is not “Its my turn to take the milk” but “I took it yesterday – you have to today”.


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