Here's Exactly What Happens to Your Body if You Drink Milk Every Day

“It does a body good.” That iconic tagline from milk commercials sums up its many health benefits, which range from bone health to mood enhancement. But, in recent years, milk (and dairy in general) has gotten a reputation as being not-so-healthy, with many people switching to plant-based varieties as a result.

However, dietitians say having a glass of milk—the traditional dairy kind—every day is healthy for most people.

“Milk is very nutrient-rich and can be consumed daily as part of a healthy eating plan,” explains Rahaf Al Bochi, RDN, LD, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and owner of Olive Tree Nutrition.

Milk is packed with calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamin D, protein and many other nutrients, she says. Unless you have a lactose intolerance or milk allergy or stick to a vegan diet, there’s no reason to avoid consuming milk every day.

In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate recommends adults consume three servings of dairy per day and that children consume two to two and a half servings daily. For reference, one cup of milk equals one serving.

With that in mind, it’s always best to talk to a registered dietitian about how much milk you should drink per day and what type is best for you and your health needs, Al Bochi says. Here’s what you should know about the health benefits of milk.

Milk Nutritional Facts

This is the nutritional profile of a one-cup serving of reduced fat, or 2% milk, according to the USDA:

  • Calories: 122

  • Protein: 8.2 g

  • Total fat: 4.7 g

  • Saturated fat: 2.7 g

  • Carbohydrates: 12 g

  • Sugar: 12 g (all are from lactose or natural milk sugar)

A cup of milk also boasts more than 300 mg of calcium—it’s recommended that you get 1,000 to 1,200 per day.

Which Type of Milk Is Healthiest?

The type of milk you choose—skim, whole or 2%—is a personal choice, based on your dietary needs and taste preferences, says Kristin Kirkpatrick, RD, a registered dietitian at Cleveland Clinic and co-author of Regenerative Health.

For example, whole milk contains more fat so it may be best avoided if you’re on a low-fat diet, she explains. “As with any food, there is no one-size-fits-all option.”

Related: Wait, Are Eggs Dairy?

When choosing milk, Kristen Carli, RD, a registered dietitian, nutritionist and owner of Camelback Nutrition and Wellness, says to read the nutrition label and especially check the fat, protein and sugar count. Then, purchase the product that aligns with what you need, healthwise.

The Health Benefits of Milk

Milk offers numerous health benefits. These are the main ones:

It’s good for your bones

Milk famously promotes bone health. It contains calcium, vitamin D, phosphorous and protein, all nutrients known for supporting bone health, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorous, and research shows it can reduce inflammation in the body.

It helps you manage your weight

Milk is beneficial for weight loss and weight management, says Kirkpatrick. It's high in protein, which Al Bochi says will keep you full, and its carb count gives you energy throughout the day.

Research published in the journal Nutrients suggested that subjects who incorporated dairy into a calorie-restricted diet experienced more weight and fat loss without lean muscle mass loss, compared to those on a controlled diet. However, a review of studies on the benefits of milk found that it didn’t lead to significant weight loss, but also didn’t lead to weight gain.

It may improve heart health

Research on milk’s heart health benefits is mixed with some studies suggesting milk’s potassium levels could reduce the risk of stroke, heart disease and high blood pressure. Other research links milk to a higher risk of stroke since it contains saturated fat. Yet another study found a neutral association between dairy products and cardiovascular health.

Related: If You Want to Live to 100, This Is the Vitamin That Will Actually Make a Difference

It could lower your risk for dementia

There’s also a connection between milk consumption and a lower risk for cognitive decline. A 2021 study suggested that consuming milk daily may decrease your risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Other research shows that adding skimmed dairy, buttermilk and fermented dairy to your diet could improve executive functioning.

It supports immunity

Since milk is a good source of essential nutrients, like calcium, vitamin D, vitamin A, riboflavin, potassium, vitamin B12 and more, Carli says it can support your immune system and overall well-being.

It’s a mood booster

Milk contains the amino acid tryptophan, which can help you feel a sense of calm, Al Bochi says. Research suggests that well-balanced diets that include milk and other dairy products are connected to better sleep quality. Getting a good night’s sleep consistently is linked to better moods and can improve your overall mental health. Vitamin D may also improve symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Are There Any Downsides to Drinking Milk Every Day?

Unless you have a lactose intolerance or milk allergy, most people can enjoy milk every day, Carli says. If you have one of these conditions, consuming dairy products can trigger inflammation, gastrointestinal distress and changes in immune function, Kirkpatrick adds.

However, some people might choose to reduce their dairy intake for environmental reasons. Dairy production uses land, water and other natural resources, and the livestock that produce dairy generates greenhouse gases, according to Harvard.

One thing worth noting: Some of the backlash against milk in recent years has had to do with the belief that it may cause cancer. However, the evidence on the link between dairy consumption and cancer is extremely limited, so most experts don't recommend deciding on drinking milk based on this belief.

Is Plant-Based Milk Just as Healthy?

Many people are swapping dairy for plant-based milk these days. They may be embracing a vegan or plant-based diet or worry about the environment, even though non-dairy milk still has an environmental impact.

Related: Oat Milk vs. Almond Milk: Which One's Better for You?

Whether you choose almond, soy or oat milk is a personal choice, but Carli suggests opting for the unsweetened versions. Some products contain added sugar. Also, check the ingredients list to ensure it doesn’t contain additives.

Look for plant-based milk that’s fortified with vitamin D and has a similar protein content as dairy milk, Al Bochi recommends.

In general, Kirkpatrick suggests choosing a non-dairy milk that aligns with your dietary needs. “As with any food, personalization is key and will often dictate what option is best and can be maintained long-term,” she says.

Next, read about the health benefits of full-fat milk.