Goat milk assumes significance as an alternative food for children and sick people in providing nutrients and has a better bio-availability when compare to the cow milk. Children fed with goat milk showed improvement in weight gain, bone density, stature, skeletal mineralization, blood plasma concentration of vitamin A, thiamine, calcium, riboflavin, hemoglobin and niacin concentrations than those on cow milk.

Iron content

It is an open secret that most milk is deficient in iron including cow and breast milk. Experimental studies show that rats fed with whole goat milk resulted in better growth rate, higher weight gain, higher iron absorption and good haemoglobin iron content than those fed with cow milk. There is a significant improvement in the regeneration efficiency of haemoglobin when goat milk is fed.

Goat milk anaemia

But goat milk has to be used with some caution as the sole source of milk to infants and invalids as it results in a deficiency known as “goat milk anemia” or “macrocytic- hyperchromic megaloblastic anemia” which was originally in infants fed exclusively on goat milk in Europe during the second and third decade of twentieth century. Folate is essential for synthesis of hemoglobin which is lacking in goat milk. Hence, folate supplementation to goat milk is essentially recommended before feeding it to infants. Further, goat milk, just like cow milk, is also advised to be diluted to reduce the level of protein, and to be fortified with carbohydrate and certain lacking vitamins before feeding it to babies, especially those less than six months of age.

There is a school of thought that the nutritional advantages of goat milk over cow milk come not from its much talked about protein or mineral differences but from another overlooked component in goat milk, the lipids. The high concentration of short and medium chain fatty acids in the lipid component of goat milk is beneficial to the body. The advantages can be three fold as follows.

1. The digestibility of the goat milk fat is comparatively higher when compared to cow milk because lipase attacks ester linkages of short or medium chain fatty acids more easily than those of longer chains.

2. These fatty acids in turn beneficially alter the cholesterol metabolism like hypocholesterolemic action on tissues and blood via inhibition of cholesterol deposition and dissolution of cholesterol in gallstones.

3. These fatty acids are also therapeutically used for treatment of various cases of mal-absorption patients suffering from steatorrhea, hyperlipoproteinemia, chyluria and in cases of intestinal resection, coronary bypass, childhood epilepsy, premature infant feeding, cystic fibrosis, and gallstones among other ailments. 

Goat milk proteins

Goat milk proteins form smaller, softer and more friable curds during acidification in the stomach when compared to cow milk and this facilitates the stomach proteases to act on them and digest them more efficiently.

The greater buffering capacity of the goat milk makes it as an ideal candidate for the treatment of stomach ulcer. Among the goat breeds, the Nubian goat milk contains significantly higher levels of major buffering entities such as proteins, non-protein nitrogen, and phosphate than cow milk of Holstein and Jersey breeds which appears to play a major role in human nutrition. When available in plenty, the milk to choose is goat milk.