Universidad de Granada – Calcium, magnesium, and iron from goat milk may be more bioavailable than minerals from cow milk, according to research carried out at the Department of Physiology of UGR. Milk from goats helps to prevent iron deficiency anemia and bone demineralization (softening of the bones).

This project, conducted by Dr Javier Díaz Castro and directed by professors Margarita Sánchez Campos, Inmaculada López Aliaga and José Muñoz Alférez, compared the nutritional properties of goat milk and cow milk, both with normal calcium content and calcium enriched, looking at the bioavailability of iron, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium. To carry out this study, the metabolic balance technique used both rats with experimentally induced nutritional anemia (iron deficient) and a control group of rats.

The UGR researchers determined the concentration of these minerals in the different organs involved in their homeostatic regulation and different hematological parameters in relation to the metabolism of the minerals. Parts of this research have been published in the scientific journals International Dairy Journal and Journal Dairy Science.

The study found that iron deficiency anemia and bone demineralization have a better recovery with goat milk, due to the higher bioavailability of iron, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium, the restoration of altered hematological parameters, and the better levels of parathyroid hormone (PTH) – a hormone that regulates the calcium balance in the organism.

Javier Díaz Castro points out that the inclusion of goat milk with normal or double calcium content in the diet “favors digestive and metabolic utilization of iron, calcium and phosphorus and their deposition in target organs.”

According to this researcher, all these conclusions reveal that regular consumption of goat milk – a natural food with highly beneficial nutritional characteristics – “has positive effects on mineral metabolism, recovery from ferropenic anemia and bone mineralization in rats. In addition, and unlike observations in cow milk, calcium enrichment does not interfere with the bioavailability of the minerals studied”.

Although there is no doubt that these findings may be a base for further in-depth study of the multiple health benefits of goat milk, the UGR researcher warns that “studies in humans are still required in order to confirm the findings obtained in rats and to promote goat milk consumption both in the general population and in the population affected by nutritional ferropenic anemia and pathologies related to bone demineralization”.

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