Chemical Composition of Commercial Cow's Milk

J Agric Food Chem. 2019 May 1;67(17):4897-4914. doi: 10.1021/acs.jafc.9b00204. Epub 2019 Apr 17.


Bovine milk is a nutritionally rich, chemically complex biofluid consisting of hundreds of different components. While the chemical composition of cow's milk has been studied for decades, much of this information is fragmentary and very dated. In an effort to consolidate and update this information, we have applied modern, quantitative metabolomics techniques along with computer-aided literature mining to obtain the most comprehensive and up-to-date characterization of the chemical constituents in commercial cow's milk. Using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS), and inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS), we were able to identify and quantify 296 bovine milk metabolites or metabolite species (corresponding to 1447 unique structures) from a variety of commercial milk samples. Through our literature analysis, we also found another 676 metabolites or metabolite species (corresponding to 908 unique structures). Detailed information regarding all 2355 of the identified chemicals in bovine milk have been made freely available through a Web-accessible database called the Milk Composition Database or MCDB ( ).

Keywords: ICP−MS; LC−MS; NMR; chemical composition; literature review; metabolomics; milk.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle / metabolism
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Female
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Milk / chemistry*
  • Milk / economics
  • Milk / metabolism
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry