Maintaining bone strength and mass is an essential part of one’s overall health. Dairy offers many key nutrients that can contribute to an individual's well-being. Along with calcium, dairy products include potassium, vitamins A & D and protein.
Vitamins A & D help maintain healthy skin as well as sustain the proper levels of calcium and phosphorous, respectively. Potassium assists with managing a healthy blood pressure, and protein helps to build and repair muscle tissue (WebMD).
We reached out to John Fetrow VMD, MBA from the University of Minnesota to learn about the domestication of dairy cows and how we got to where we are today.
For many people, the domestication of cows and the evolution of humans have been tightly linked. About 9,000 years ago (about the time humans domesticated cows), two distinct groups of humans had separate genetic mutations that preserved the ability to digest milk sugar (lactose) past infancy. People evolved and survived by depending on cows and milk for food as adults. This mutation was of such survival value that today huge numbers of people carry those genes. Thus 90% of northern Europeans, 50% of southern Europeans and Arabs, and 50% of specific African groups carry the genes that made milk a valuable part of their diets throughout their lives. From an evolutionary vantage, this is an amazingly rapid selection for a genetic trait, clearly demonstrating the value to humans of having dairy products in their diet.
Domestication has been good for cows as well. There are probably more cows on earth today than ever before in history. Cows are the only Pleistocene megafauna to have survived to modern times (the saber-toothed tigers, mastodons, giant sloths, cave bears, etc. are gone). Cows have been and are very valuable to human society and humans have served the interests of cows in return.
Happy Dairy Month!