A1 Vs. A2 Milk
– Facts, Differences And Myths
The much heard and debated topic about A1 and A2 milk is not new.
Scientists believe the difference originated as a mutation that occurred between 5000 and 10,000 years ago. It was then, when cattle were being taken north into Europe and the proline at position 67 was replaced by histidine, with the mutation subsequently spreading widely throughout herds in the Western world through breeding.
Coming back to recent times, let’s see what is it all about?
A1 and A2 beta-casein are genetic variants of the beta-casein milk protein that differ by one amino acid. A genetic test, developed by the A2 Milk Company, determines whether a cow produces A2 or A1 type protein in its milk.
Currently, A2 milk is marketed as a healthier choice than regular A1 milk.
Proponents assert that A2 has several health benefits and is easier for people with lactose intolerance to digest. Although, this is not supported by any legitimate research.
What is Casein?
Casein is the largest group of proteins in milk. It makes up to about 80% of total protein content.
There are several types of casein in milk. Beta-casein is the second most prevalent and it exists in at least 13 different forms.
The two most common forms are A1 and A2.
- A1 beta-casein.Milk from breeds of cows that originated in northern Europe is generally high in A1 beta-casein. These breeds include Holstein, Friesian, Ayrshire, and British Shorthorn.
- A2 beta-casein.Milk that is high in A2 beta-casein is mainly found in breeds that originated in the Channel Islands and southern France. These include Guernsey, Jersey, Charolais, and Limousin cows.
Although regular milk contains both A1 and A2 beta-casein, but A2 milk contains only A2 beta-casein.
There has been growing interest in A2 milk globally ever since the New Zealand-based A2 Milk Company was founded in 2000 to license intellectual property for determining the type of protein a cow produces in its milk.
The rise of A2
In the year 2000, the A2 corporation was formed to commercialize the A2 protein in a brand of milk. There is a very slight difference in the genetic make-up between A2 cows and other dairy cows.
This company had a patent on a genetic method for identifying cattle that would produce A2 milk. It was because of this genetic testing that made A2 milk more expensive.
In 2002, the company launched a high court lawsuit against a major New Zealand milk cooperative, accusing it of covering up the possible harmful effects of A1 milk. They petitioned the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) regulatory authority to have these health warnings added to all the containers of its A1 milk rivals.
The company changed its business model in 2007 from licensing to a full-fledged operating company engaged in sourcing and selling branded A2 milk in New Zealand, Australia, the UK and other developed countries. It then captured up to 8 per cent share in some of these markets.
Research and results
To date, there are only two human studies that have tested the effects of A1 beta-casein as a predisposing factor of heart disease.
One study included 15 male and female test subjects with known high risk of heart disease.
The crossover design of the study meant that participants consumed both A1 and A2 beta-casein at different periods of time.
The results derived from the study tell us that there are no serious adverse effects on heart disease risk factors.
Also, when compared alongside A2 beta-casein, A1 showcased similar effects on blood pressure levels, blood vessel function, blood fats concentration, and inflammatory markers.
Based on the results derived from the other study, there are no significant differences in the effects of A1 and A2 beta-casein on blood cholesterol levels as well.
Despite the lack of conclusive scientific evidence from human studies, several players have started marketing A2 milk with claims that it is natural, better, and free from negative effects.