Skim or low-fat is touted as the healthiest choice when it comes to milk. But is it really better for us than whole milk? Does it really do a body good, or are we depriving ourselves of key nutrients? Could it be contributing to the rise in psychological problems in our country? And does choosing skim over whole actually help us lose weight? Do we really need to deprive ourselves of whole milk for the sake of health?

Milk has a lot to offer when it comes to good nutrition. Calcium is the first thing that comes to mind, but what about vitamins A and D? Vitamin A is essential for healthy eyes, bones and teeth, and to keep skin and mucous membranes healthy to protect against infection. Vitamin D is also important for the bones and teeth, and for the absorption of calcium. These two crucial nutrients are fat-soluble, meaning they are only absorbed by the body through fats. Skim and low-fat milk naturally have significantly lower amounts of vitamins A and D, because these vitamins are dissolved in the fat, which is then removed. The milk must then be fortified to make up for these lost nutrients. Even with the unnatural addition of vitamins, our bodies are less able to absorb them without the fat. So when we drink skim milk, we may be missing out on some essential nutrients that our bodies need. 

Another concern when it comes to drinking skim or low-fat milk is the risk for depression. The neurons in our brains are made up of mostly fat. When we consume a low-fat diet, we may be altering the amount of fat in our brain cells. This can change the way our brains function, and cause a depletion of serotonin and other “feel-good” chemicals, leading to depression. Some studies have even linked low-fat and low cholesterol diets to major depression and suicide. Not to say that a glass of skim milk will cause one to have suicidal thoughts, rather the emphasis is on how important fat intake can be to our overall psychological health.

For some, losing weight is a priority and low-fat is the mantra that is upheld by most doctors, scientists, nutritionists, and large health associations. But is low-fat really the best way to lose weight? Even though whole milk contains many more calories than skim, there is evidence that skim milk may actually cause weight gain. Milk naturally contains sugars called lactose, which is slowly absorbed and released when fat is acting as a buffer. But without fat, the lactose will be absorbed more quickly, leading to a spike in insulin. This could lead to hunger, overeating, and more fat being stored in your body. In addition, the campaign for low-fat diets actually coincides with a rise in obesity and diabetes, perhaps due to an increase in consumption of sugars and carbohydrates in place of fats.

It seems skim milk may cause more harm than good. So go ahead, enjoy a glass of whole milk without the guilt, and know that you may be making a better choice for your health overall.