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Nov 5, 2008 08:01 AM

Straus Milk- No vitamin D


Not sure whether to post this here but since Straus is an essentially local product.. We were surprised to learn that Straus milk (thats the one in the glass bottles) is not fortified with vitamin D. a very nice email from their customer service representative confirmed this and explained that they try to remain as pure and unadulterated as possible. I think most people (including me, and I'm a pediatric dietitian) assume that all whole milk contains vitamin D so I think it behooves them to make it a bit more obvious on their labels that their product does not contain this nutrient. Working in a teaching hospital I unfortunately see cases of rickets caused by vitamin D deficieny. Children and adults with special health care needs are esspecially at risk.
Again, their customer service folks have been great and they said they would talk it over with Mr Straus when he returns from Italy.

  1. It's no longer just a matter of rickets. Recent research keeps turning up more and more evidence that Vit D is essential to many areas of prevention and overall health and certainly milk--not just whole but all fluid--is a major source for many folks.

    It's important too to point out that many dairy products, e.g., most yogurts, are not produced from supplemented milk.

    The other major source is sun, but many folks use sunscreen and don't give themselves the 10-15 minutes recommended to absorb D, plus older people many not absorb it as well from the sun.

    1. You may be incorrect.

      The Vitamin D3 content of Straus milk MAY BE EVEN HIGHER than Vitamin D2-fortified milk because Straus cows graze outside.

      UV-exposure produces Vitamin D in cows the same way it is produced in humans. Milk with a higher fat content, like Straus milk, usually has more Vitamin D also, since Vitamin D is bound to fat. Obviously, no need to add Vitamin D when the milk already has it.

      Until you have a chromotographic that says otherwise, I'm betting that the Straus milk has as much if not more Vitamin D than conventional milk. Cows in the sunshine and all.

      2 Replies
      1. re: maria lorraine

        I don't believe that even under optimal conditions cows ever produce the amount of Vitamin D considered necessary for humans, but that milk is fortified because it happens to be a good medium for it and because it is consumed by nearly all growing children in the US. My understanding is that the real cause of Vitamin D deficiency in the US is a lack of fish in the diet.

        1. re: Xiao Yang

          Yes. Fish is a far more important source with many times more D than milk.

          Several analyses of D-fortified milk have determined tha the milk contained much less
          D than the label stated, about 80% of what was stated in one study.

      2. What effect, if any, does the addition of Vitamin D have on the flavor of milk?

        1 Reply
        1. re: pilinut

          Depends on how much is added. It does have a metallic taste, which can affect the flavor of milk without registering as metallic.

        2. Why would a product known for being "close to nature" have to put a warning label on about not using added ingredients that other products of its type use?

          30 Replies
          1. re: oaktowngirl

            It's not a question of them "having to." Conscience should tell them that because people are accustomed to thinking that an important component of their nutritive intake is usually supplied by milk, they are duty bound to let them know that that is not the case with Straus milk products.

            1. re: Xiao Yang

              I continue to be amazed that anyone goes into any food related business given all of the various demands we make.

              All they are doing is not adding anything to milk. They take organic milk, pasteurize it and put it in a bottle. And we manage to find some issue or problem with this.

              1. re: ccbweb

                It's a simple matter for Straus to decide whether to be socially responsible or just worry about their bottom line.

                1. re: Xiao Yang

                  I'm saying: I completely reject the notion that they are being socially irresponsible.

                  Again, they bottle organic milk. They add nothing to it. There is no reason that anything other than the normal, required labels which already include nutritional information should be required or expected.

                  To continually create these situations in which a company can not possibly win is just untenable.

                  1. re: ccbweb

                    If knowledge that they are not supplying the nutirents people have come to expect in milk makes their business untenable, creating the impression that they are trying to hide the fact will make it even more so.

                    1. re: Xiao Yang

                      That idea that they're hiding anything is something I find amazing. Their product is appropriately labeled and has nothing added to it.

                      Not all milk has vitamin D added and milk that does is so labeled.

                      1. re: ccbweb

                        I do believe that people who are buying Straus milk are aware of what is and isn't in it and desire it, paying a premium.

                        1. re: wolfe

                          I know for a fact that this is not the case with all people who buy Straus. The OP, a dietitian, also knows this is certain.

                          1. re: Atomica

                            Atomica you are right. I apologize, I was too generous. It reminds me of the words of H.L. Mencken. "No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people."

                      2. re: Xiao Yang

                        The label accurately states what's in the milk, therefore it's not deceiving nor is it hiding anything. I don't think the nutritional deficiencies of children in the 1940s have any relationship to children today. Futhermore, I would be very surprised if children whose parents serve them organic milk are of a socio-economic class where rickets is going to be an issue.

                        I hear there's an epidemic of tooth decay in parts of the country where the kids drink exclusively bottled water. Maybe bottled water should have a label that says it doesn't have fluoride.

                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                          "I don't think the nutritional deficiencies of children in the 1940s have any relationship to children today."

                          Why not? We are talking about Vitamin D. Do kids of today eat more fish? Certainly, with TV, video games, Computers et. al they stay indoors more and get less sunshine than I did as a kid in the 1940's. Supplemented milk, along with other sources of Vitamin D has proven effective in keeping down the rate of Rickets. If you subtract the Vitamin D supplement in milk from the equation, your kids might be in for a nasty surprise, regardless of your exalted economic status.

                          1. re: Xiao Yang

                            And rickets is on the rise again. It's all over the news and mentioned by the OP.

                            1. re: Xiao Yang

                              XY, I grew up on a dairy in the l940's, and we had nothing to do with vitamin D. I'm still not vitamin D conscious - have no idea whether the carton in my fridge contains the D supplement or not. The idea that a dairy should announce that they don't add supplements is like an orange juice carton telling us they don't have added calcium.

                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                "Maybe bottled water should have a label that says it doesn't have fluoride."


                            2. re: ccbweb

                              I completely agree. It's hardly a secret that they are trying to sell a less processed food. Sometimes the flip side of less-processed food is that it's less-processed! Should the muesli at my coop state that it doesn't have all those random vitamins thrown in? Good grief.

                              We need to pay better attention to what we put in our mouths, anyway. Tons of milk-drinkers in my part of the country are deficient in D anyway from lack of sun.

                            3. re: Xiao Yang

                              Let me see, they use modern, efficient waste management techniques, recyclable glass bottles, provide a hormone free product from pastured cows. Yes, definitely socially irresponsible.

                          2. re: Xiao Yang

                            <<Conscience should tell them that because people are accustomed to thinking that an important component of their nutritive intake is usually supplied by milk, they are duty bound to let them know that that is not the case with Straus milk products.>>

                            Who says Vitamin D is not being supplied? It's just not being added.

                            1. re: maria lorraine

                              <<It's a simple matter for Straus to decide whether to be socially responsible or just worry about their bottom line.>>

                              Are you assuming -- perhaps speciously -- that Straus milk does not contain Vitamin D?

                              1. re: maria lorraine

                                We can safely assume it has nowhere near the 400+ IU that we count on from a quart of milk. Cow's milk naturally contains 50-80 IU of Vitamin D per quart. Therefore a supplemented quart normally contains 450 to 480 IU, or 6-9X that of unsupplemented milk.

                                1. re: Xiao Yang

                                  You're comparing apples to oranges.

                                  The naturally occuring D3 -- cholecalciferol, the kind produced by cows being out in the sunshine -- is 3.5 TIMES MORE METABOLICALLY ACTIVE than the Vitamin D that is added to milk -- D2, or ergocalciferol.

                                  Moreover, your stat of 400 D2 International Units (IU) per quart is inaccurate. Yes, milk is supposed to contain 400 IU if it's foritfiied, but it doesn't. Most milk -- 70% of milk in the US -- contains less than 320 IU.*

                                  Your number of 50-80 IU of naturally occuring Vitamin D -- D3 -- was per quart of CONVENTIONAL milk, I'm assuming.

                                  The D3 measurement of milk from grassfed cows, meaning, cows out in the sunshine, would be far higher.

                                  So, let's do the math.

                                  Just to play fair, let's take your upper range value for CONVENTIONAL milk -- 80 IU -- and multiply that by a factor of 3.5 to get an equivalence of units to D2.

                                  The number is 280 IU of D2, or nearly the same per quart. So, it's a wash.

                                  But wait, the actual number of equivalent D2 IU in the Straus milk is probably far higher, since your stat is for conventional milk.

                                  So, I'm betting -- as I said earlier -- that the Straus milk has AS MUCH IF NOT MORE METABOLICALLY ACTIVE Vitamin D as conventional milk.

                                  So, XY, I don't buy what you say.


                                  *Info source: "However, during the past decade, three surveys in which the vitamin D content in milk was analyzed revealed that up to 70 percent of milk sampled throughout the United States and Canada did not contain vitamin D in the range of 8 to 12 µg (320 to 480 IU)/quart (the 20 percent variation allowed by current labeling standards)."

                                  1. re: Xiao Yang

                                    >We can safely assume it has nowhere near the 400+ IU that we count on from a quart of milk.<

                                    I don't count on that without seeing it on the package. Milk is milk. Making it an added-vitamin product if fine as long as you say so., and not making it an added-vitamin product is by default fine.

                                    1. re: Mick Ruthven

                                      It's medical science, not me, that promotes the supplementation of milk with Vitamin D, and I assume they have good reason.

                                      1. re: Xiao Yang

                                        Not everything our country has promoted, in terms of foods, has been with good reason. I would argue that much of it is w/o good reason, unless you consider agribusinesses making money a good reason.

                                        1. re: chemchef

                                          Maybe an 85 percent reduction in childhood rickets isn't a good reason to fortify milk to you, but it is to me.

                                          1. re: Xiao Yang

                                            But the reason for rise in rickets recently is BREASTFEEDING!!


                                            The increased incidence of rickets -- and it's not a huge increase, just a curious one -- was mainly found in Latino and African-American children under a year of age and almost always under 4 years of age.

                                            Which is rather telling. It means that MOTHER supplementation is as important, if not more important, than milk supplementation in reducing rickets. The mother needs adequate Vitamin D in her diet that she can pass along in her milk.

                                            You were right the first time, XY, with your rec of fish.

                                            Certainly fortified milk can help with both the mother's and the infant's diet. But Vitamin D supplementation -- in milk, orange juice, and pill form -- is not converted efficiently to the 1,25-Vitamin D our body can actually use.

                                            Sunshine is really the most powerful way to get Vitamin D in a form the body
                                            recognizes and can use.

                                            Three times a week in the sunshine is all it takes. 20 minutes per session for light-skinned individuals, 40 minutes or more for darker-skinned individuals.

                                            Children playing outside, a walk at lunch, simple things...

                                            Difficult to access sunshine in some areas, yes.

                                            1. re: maria lorraine

                                              Also, there are people in the UK, for example, who live at certain latitudes where the sunlight isn't of the proper quality during the winter months to provide vitamin D.

                                              1. re: Atomica

                                                That happens right in my neck of the woods - Western WA. It seems like there's always another study about our levels of SAD and low D...

                                              2. re: maria lorraine

                                                Obviously, if an infant is breastfeeding, he or she isn't drinking Straus milk, and it becomes a question of what the MOTHER is drinking. In addition, a child's need for Vitamin D doesn't cease when he or she is weaned. The low incidence of rickets in children older than breastfeeding age is possibly due to the fact that nearly all commercial milk products ARE fortified.

                                                1. re: Xiao Yang

                                                  As mentioned earlier, the rise in rickets is a reflection of the mother's diet.

                            2. I would think that dietitians especially would carefully read nutrition and ingredient labels. This has nothing at all to do with Straus and should only serve as a reminder not to assume what is and isn't in something.