Clarification On Cow’s Milk In Baby Formula

Clarification On Cow's Milk In Baby Formula | The Paleo Diet

My wife and I started eating Paleo about 9 months go. I really enjoyed your most recent book and bought extra copies to give to friends and coworkers. In your most recent book you mentioned that they stopped putting cow’s milk in baby formula in the 1980’s due colic (pg 98).

When I mentioned this to my brother he showed me that milk was still the first ingredient in his babies formula which was a major name brand. I was just wondering where you got the information that milk is no longer in baby formula?



Dr. Cordain’s Response:

Hi Aaron,

Thanks for you kind words and support of the Paleo Diet.  Also, thanks for bringing this issue to my attention.  I’ll post my comment on my blog to clarify the statement (p 98) in my book which was:

“You may ask why this information is relevant in 2011 when cow’s milk-based formula is no longer commercially available, and no pediatrician in his/her right mind would recommend giving cow’s milk to your infant”.

This statement is somewhat misleading as it currently reads and needs a caveat to be completely correct.  Pure, unadulterated cow’s milk is unsuitable as an infant formula for a variety of reasons, but the most important is that the casein (a protein) content of cow’s milk is much too high and the whey (another protein) is too low which puts a strain on the infant’s kidney and additionally may cause intestinal bleeding.  Starting in the 1920s and 30s evaporated cow’s milk began to be used in infant formulas and became the most popular formula protein ingredient by the 1950’s .  Many of these early formulas made no attempt reduce the casein content of evaporated cow’s milk and increase the whey content.  By the 1970’s evaporated milk formulas were almost totally replaced by commercial cow milk formulas in which the casein to whey ratio was altered to approximate human milk.  So to clarify my statement, pure, unadulterated cow’s milk is no longer used in infant formulas, however cow’s milk in which the casein to whey ratio has been altered represent the most common protein source in commercially available infant formulas.


Loren Cordain, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus


Brady JP. Marketing breast milk substitutes: problems and perils throughout the world. Arch Dis Child. 2012 Jun;97(6):529-32.

Castilho SD, Barros Filho AA. The history of infant nutrition. J Pediatr (Rio J). 2010 May-Jun;86(3):179-88.

Koletzko B. Innovations in infant milk feeding: from the past to the future. Nestle Nutr Workshop Ser Pediatr Program. 2010;66:1-17

Stevens EE, Patrick TE, Pickler R. A History of Infant Feeding. J Perinat Educ. 2009 Spring;18(2):32-39.


Aaron’s Response:

Loren, thanks for getting back to me so quickly. My wife and I are
distance runners and have been doing great on the diet. While
following the diet I ran PR’s in 10k-Marathon on the diet, running a
2:55 marathon at Twin Cities in October. My wife has taken 9 minutes
off her Half Marathon, running a 1:43 in October. Your new book took
us to a new level of Paleo and we have been fine tunning our diets to
get the best results. I had IBS for 15 years and it has almost
completely gone away. My wife had persistent acne and intestinal
bloating that is now gone. Thank you!

About Loren Cordain, PhD, Professor Emeritus

Loren Cordain, PhD, Professor EmeritusDr. Loren Cordain is Professor Emeritus of the Department of Health and Exercise Science at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado. His research emphasis over the past 20 years has focused upon the evolutionary and anthropological basis for diet, health and well being in modern humans. Dr. Cordain’s scientific publications have examined the nutritional characteristics of worldwide hunter-gatherer diets as well as the nutrient composition of wild plant and animal foods consumed by foraging humans. He is the world’s leading expert on Paleolithic diets and has lectured extensively on the Paleolithic nutrition worldwide. Dr. Cordain is the author of six popular bestselling books including The Real Paleo Diet Cookbook, The Paleo Diet, The Paleo Answer, and The Paleo Diet Cookbook, summarizing his research findings.

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  5. Dr. Cordain,

    I have a BS of science in Kinesiology and am currently attaining my Doctorate of Physical Therapy. I have taken numerous courses on nutrition and even more on the sciences of movement and internal body processes. I have recently bought your book; “The Paleo Diet, revised edition” and I have a question for you regarding your stance on dairy products. On page 52 you state that “Milk, cream, cheese, butter, and fermented milk products (including yogurt), ice cream and the many processed dairy products of the 20th century are some of the richest sources of certain saturated fats in the typical western diet (palmitic and myristic), which raise cholesterol”. With that in mind what about non-fat dairy products? Non-fat milk will contain no fat, 7 g of sugar (which is naturally produced in milk, not added) and roughly 9 grams of protein. If your biggest concern surrounding dairy products is the saturated fat content that is within most whole dairy products, wouldn’t it be plausible that by choosing the non-fat choices of dairy products we will be consuming another protein rich food and would therefore be within the limits of the paleo diet? Please enlighten me on your perspective of this concept.


  6. . Our ancestors didn’t have olive oil, and as you base your whole diet on what they had, I find it strange you should recommend Olive oil for cooking. I also find it strange that in the light of scientific evidence, that low cholesterol is riskier for the elderly, with regard to heart attacks, you also talk of ‘lowering cholesterol’ in your books. You also vilify salt, which we do need in limited amounts. I can only assume our ancient forbears did what animals do. ‘Salt-lick’ when ever they could. So, whilst I agree on most of the foods you recommend, I can’t see why I would use olive-oil. I don’t like the taste to begin with! Thank you for some good ideas. I am now virtually starch free, and I am losing weight. But I don’t worry about cholesterol, because my research has proven to me that it doesn’t cause heart attacks; further, it’s necessary as the main building-block of life. I am 74 years of age by the way. Best Wishes

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