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Milk Composition & Synthesis
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Milk Composition


Milk composition receives a great deal of interest from a range of sciences, industries and applications. This is because the individual milk components can be considered from a number of perspectives, as indicated in the list below. In addition, the complex interactions of the milk components provide the basis for much of dairy chemistry or dairy food products manufacturing.

Views of milk components :

  • The biochemistry of each component
  • The mechanisms of synthesis of each component
  • The role of each component in defining the physicochemical properties of milk
  • The function of each component in the mammary gland
  • The importance of each component to the nursing young
  • The importance of each component in milk and milk products as foods for humans
  • The factors that affect variability of milk component composition

  • Major milk components :

    • water
    • lactose
    • fat
    • protein
    • minerals
    • vitamins
    • other

    Synthesis and secretion of individual milk components such as lactose, milk fat, and milk proteins will be discussed in greater detail in separate Lessons. An overview of milk components follows here.

    Each major component of milk will be considered separately. Remember that milk is a complex fluid. Many of the major components interact with each other in the fluid. These interactions and the physicochemical properties of milk are the basis for utilization by the neonate, as well as for manufacture of all dairy foods.

    Simple separation techniques, such as centrifugation or acid precipitation, can be used to achieve crude fractionation of milk components. However, there are many physical and chemical interactions among the various components of milk. The result of all of these interactions is the complex fluid that we know as milk.

    In this module, each of the major organic components of milk is discussed with respect to the synthesis or origin of the component. Some specific milk components are synthsized in the epithelial cells from precursors absorbed from the blood. These synthesized components are then secreted into the alveolar lumen. Other components are transported through the epithelial cells with few or no chemical modifications before secretion into the lumen. All of the various components of milk can be found in the lactating epithelial cell, however, milk as we normally think of it, only exists as an accumulation of all the individual components as they are secreted from the cell into the lumen.

    Milk Composition & Synthesis