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Organic milk - good alternative source of Omega 3

The University of Aberdeen announced today that early results of a new research project confirm that organic milk is a good alternative source of omega 3.

The research, which compared the omega 3 content of organic and conventional milk shows that organic milk can contain up to 71% more omega 3 than non-organic milk and has a better ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 than conventional milk.

The results confirm earlier research, published in the Journal of Dairy Science, by IGER which first revealed the health benefits of organic milk last year. Their research found that the more natural diet of organic cows which is rich in red clover sileage produced milk which contained higher levels of omega 3 essential fatty acids.

Sally Bagenal, Chief Executive of the UK’s leading organic dairy farming cooperative, OMSCo said that while organic farmers welcomed the results, OMSCo is concerned that people don’t appreciate the recently revealed health benefits of organic milk. “89% of people didn’t know that organic milk contained more omega 3 than ordinary milk. This research confirms the potential health benefits of switching to organic milk and cheese – particularly for those groups who don’t consume the recommended amount of oily fish – which includes most of us, especially children”

Jamie Robertson, Livestock Projects Manager, from the University of Aberdeen commented, “We’re really excited by the results, which show that organic milk does contain significantly higher levels of the beneficial polyunsaturated fatty acid, omega 3 and a trend of lower levels of omega 6 than non-organic milk. This is due to the higher proportion of clover forage in the diets of organic cows.”

Polyunsaturated fats are broken down into two groups; omega 3 and omega 6. It is important for human health to eat the right ratio of omega fatty acids. Most people in the UK eat too much omega 6 and are deficient in Omega 3, which plays an important role in maintaining a healthy heart, supple and flexible joints, healthy growth and strong bones and teeth. Currently the average UK diet has an omega 3 to omega 6 ratio of 1:10, while the government recommends a ratio of 1:3.

The best source of omega 3 is oily fish, but research has shown that only 1/3 of the population eats oily fish regularly. By making the easy swap to organic milk and dairy products the UK public can help to increase the levels of this ‘wonder nutrient’ in their diets.

Drinking just half a pint a day of organic milk as part of a healthy balanced diet gives a useful additional source of this Omega 3 fatty acid, as it could provide approximately 10% of the UK’s Daily Reference Value3 of essential n-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid. Organic cheese is an even better source, with a matchbox sized piece of organic cheese providing up to 88% of your RDI of this Omega 3 fatty acid.

For further information contact Abby Edwards, Claire Sneddon or Nicole Bowman, at Grayling on 0117 922 7799


1. Dewhurst R J, Fisher W J, Tweed J K S and Wilkins R J (2003). Comparison of grass and legume silages for milk production. 1. Production responses with different levels of concentrate. Journal of Dairy Science (volume 86 pages 2598-2611)
2. Dietary Reference Values for Food Energy and Nutrients for the United Kingdom (1991) London HMSO


Notes to Editors

Issued by the Communications Team, Office of External Affairs, University of Aberdeen, King's College, Aberdeen. Tel: (01224) 272014.

Issued on: Wednesday 8th of December 2004

Contact: Jennifer Phillips

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