We don’t hear much about the phosphorus in milk. Much is said about milk meeting calcium needs, but its close partner, phosphorus, is ignored. Phosphorus is essential. energy-producing ATP, adenosine triphosphate, and about the Phosphate buffer system. We need phosphorus. In some ways, the situation with phosphorus can be compared with that of protein. Both phosphorus and protein:
- are Ingredients essential to the proper functioning of the body
- work In their own buffer system, and yet
- Add to the add level of the body.
We get phosphorus—organic, loosely bonded, and ready for use—from fruits, vegetables and whole grains. This is the kind of phosphorus the phosphate buffer system can use to regulate intracellular and extracellular pH. We get tightly bonded, inorganic phosphorus in the form of phosphoric acid when protein foods are digested. Phosphoric acid is a strong acid that must be neutralized. (You also get an extremely heavy dose of phosphoric acid from most nationally advertised soft drinks.) If there isn’t enough sodium around to buffer the acid, calcium must be used.
You can see where this is leading:
1. Cows’ milk contains phosphorus that has an acidifying effect the body must handle.
2. Cows’ milk has a lot of protein that leaves an acid ash to be neutralized.
3. Cows’ milk has more acidifying elements (such as phosphorus and chlorides) than alkalizing elements (such as calcium and magnesium).
There is about twenty-seven percent more calcium than phosphorus in cows milk. Calcium is an alkalizing element; phosphorus is an acidifying element. If these were the only two elements in the milk, the phosphorus would be neutralized. But there are other elements involved such as acid-producing protein. You may have read that milk has a neutral or an alkalizing effect on your body. Very likely, this was absolutely correct in days gone by. Back in the time when cows grazed on food that came straight from untreated soil, or were fed food that was free of additives, milk had a neutral or alkalizing effect. However, those days are gone. Presumably they will return as we become more aware of the consequences of tampering with nature.
Milk had an alkalizing effect until the protein content of the cows’ food was increased. Higher protein content means greater milk production. Over the years, cows have been fed more and more protein to increase milk production. Milk from high-protein-fed cows has a greater acidifying effect on humans. The same can be said for human mothers’ milk. As protein intake increases, the acid level of mothers’ milk increases. In cows’ milk, there is more acid producing substances than the meager twenty-seven percent margin of calcium can neutralize. The small additional amount of calcium can’t buffer the combined load of protein, phosphorus, and other acidifiers in the milk. The acidifying clout of milk is just too great for the calcium it contains to handle. However, if calcium is needed as a neutralizer for survival, the body will get it.