What Happens To Your Memory When You Drink Milk Every Day

The popularity of cow's milk has seen ups and downs over the years. With an increased focus on the environment and plant-based diets, dairy consumption might not be as revered as it used to be. 

We've long been told that for kids, regular milk consumption is a good way to ensure they're getting a wide variety of nutrients from just one or two glasses, according to assistant professor of nutrition at Harvard's School of Public Health, Vasanti Malik (via USA Today). "Adults tend to eat a more varied diet, so they're likely getting those nutrients from other places," added the expert. In addition to being a great source of calcium, milk contains other essential nutrients like protein, vitamins, potassium, magnesium, zinc, and iodine. 

Healthy bones is one of the biggest sellers when it comes to milk consumption, but turns out, you can be doing a lot for your memory too when you drink milk every day. And this time, the recommendation is for adults who want to stave off brain diseases like Alzheimer's (via Science Daily). There's an antioxidant in your brain called glutathione or GSH that's boosted by regular consumption of milk and this can be beneficial for brain health and memory.  

Glutathione prevents your brain from 'rusting'

Scientists at the University of Kansas Medical Center found that drinking three cups of cow's milk daily can positively influence the production of glutathione in your brain, which in turn can prevent the 'rusting' of your brain due to oxidative stress (via KU Medical Center). 

The 2022 study published in the journal Frontiers, employed 73 adults aged between 60 and 89 and split them into two groups — a control group that was already consuming less than 1.5 cups of milk per day and an intervention group that was drinking three cups of low-fat 1% milk daily, for three months. At the end of the trial, brain imaging scans were done on the subjects to monitor the levels of glutathione. The elderly subjects in the control group showed no sign of increase in the antioxidant levels, while those in the intervention group showed an average boost of about 5%. 

"We have long thought of milk as being very important for your bones and very important for your muscles. This study suggests that it could be important for your brain as well," shared co-author of the study Debra Sullivan (per Science Daily). In a different study published in International Dairy Journal, that involved 972 people ages 23 to 98, researchers found that those who self-reported consuming dairy 5-6 times a week, performed better on memory tests than those who didn't, according to Daily Mail. This time, researchers attributed the boost in brain health to the magnesium in cow's milk. 

Does this mean adults should be consuming milk every day?

When drinking too much milk has been associated with acne, inflammation, and overall calorie increase, it can get confusing whether adults should be consuming milk at all. It doesn't help that the saturated fat content in whole milk can negatively impact your cholesterol levels too (via Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health). And when there are several lactose-free and plant-based options available in the market these days, do you need to add cow's milk to your cereal each morning?

Well, there's no discounting the amount of nutrients you can get from just one glass of milk. And if you don't have sensitivities to cow's milk, there's no harm in including milk in your everyday diet even as an adult. In fact, for older people, regular milk consumption is recommended to prevent muscle degeneration and osteoporosis. As shared by research assistant professor of medicine at Oregon Health and Science University, Diane Stadler (via WebMD), "[Dairy] is an incredibly important food group for people as they get older. Calcium needs are high and they stay high, and you can't get any other foods with as much calcium as dairy." 

If you're thinking about adding milk to your daily diet to boost your memory power as you age, stick with low-fat or non-fat versions. As for drinking three glasses daily, since researchers at KU Medical Center have said that more studies are needed to establish how exactly milk boosts levels of glutathione, per Euro News, perhaps we should wait till more studies are done on the subject.