a2 Milk Review: A Detailed Look

By Lydia Noyes
HighYa Staff
Updated on: Mar 3, 2020

Millions of Americans avoid drinking milk because of how it affects their digestive system. In most cases, they claim the problem is lactose intolerance. However, there’s growing evidence that the problem for many people may be due more to protein sensitivity.

A2 Milk is a New Zealand-based dairy company that produces and sells milk that they claim is easier on the digestive system. All of the company’s milk comes from cows that only produce the A2 protein, rather than a mix of A1 and A2 proteins like most dairy cows.

According to the a2 Milk Company, all of its farms in the United States are Validus certified for better animal welfare. The company tests the DNA of their cows to ensure that they only produce milk with A2 proteins, and they also test their milk after production. For dairies with multiple breeds, all a2 Milk cows are milked separately from the rest of the herd to prevent contamination.

Today, a2 Milk is sold across the United States and marketed towards people who struggle to drink regular milk, often because they think they are lactose intolerant. Is a2 Milk all marketing hype, or are there convincing reasons to consider switching over? We’ll analyze the evidence here.

Pros: Cons:
  • Scientific data shows it can decrease gastrointestinal issues for those with A1 protein sensitivities
  • Available nationwide

  • Great for fussy babies

  • Might be cheaper than locally available options like goats milk

  • Science on benefits for the general population isn’t robust

  • Won’t help those who are lactose intolerant

  • Some considered it too expensive

Understanding A1 and A2 Protein

Approximately a third of milk’s protein content comes from beta-casein, and A1 and A2 proteins are the two most common variants. While different breeds of cows have different ratios of these two proteins, almost all milk before modern times contained only A2 proteins.

The science suggests that certain domesticated cow breeds like Holsteins experienced a genetic mutation somewhere down the line that caused them to start producing A1 and A2 proteins in equal amounts. These breeds are the most common in the US dairy industry, which means that most commercially available milk contains close to 50% A1 protein.

Though these proteins are near identical, they differ in the ways we digest them. The structure of A2 protein is similar to human breast milk as well as goat, sheep, and buffalo milk. A1 milk, in contrast, creates a peptide called beta-casomorphin-7 (BCM-7) when it is digested in the small intestine. Some scientists have linked this peptide to stomach pain and symptoms similar to lactose intolerance.

For this reason, a2 Milk claims that many people who struggle to drink milk aren’t lactose intolerant, but instead are reacting poorly to the A1 protein content. If they switched to A2 protein milk instead, the reasoning goes, they could drink it without a problem.

What Does the Science Say About a2 Milk?

There is promising research about the benefits of drinking A2 milk.

For instance, a study of Chinese adults who believed they were milk intolerant found that those who drank 8oz of A2 milk twice daily didn’t experience any adverse symptoms afterward. A control group, drinking A1 milk, reported stomach pain, inflammation, and gastrointestinal issues.

Another study on 600 Chinese adults came to the same conclusions; the stomach discomfort commonly associated with lactose intolerance seemed to be more caused by the presence of A1 protein than the milk itself. Note: The a2 Milk Company funded this study.

This research as it stands today is relatively limited, and a 2017 research review concluded that most of the existing evidence for A2 protein comes primarily from rodent studies rather than human studies. This makes it difficult to draw conclusions about the milk’s benefits for most people.

Key Takeaways

There is some evidence that A2 milk is easier to digest than milk with both A1 and A2 proteins, but most of it is anecdotal or reliant on small studies. You might notice a difference gastrointestinally, but it may only be the placebo effect.

Likewise, most available studies only looked at the impact of this milk on people with self-professed lactose intolerance. There’s no evidence that it offers any benefits beyond regular milk for those who don’t struggle to digest it.

The a2 Milk Company Product Line

A2 Milk currently sells six types of milk products across the United States. What you’ll pay for a2 Milk depends partly on where you live, but most of the company’s products start around $4.50–$5.00 per half a gallon. This chart looks specifically at the prices listed on InstaCart for San Francisco.

Whole Milk 2% Reduced Fat Fat-Free Chocolate 2% Reduced Fat Sweet Cream Coffee Creamer Creamy Vanilla Coffee Creamer
Cost (California) $4.99/ half gallon $4.99/ half gallon $4.99/ half gallon $4.99/half gallon $5.99/ 32oz $5.99/ 32oz
Ingredients Milk, vitamin D3 Reduced-fat milk, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin D3 Nonfat milk, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin D3 Reduced-fat milk, cream, sugar, Dutch-process cocoa, salt, gellan gum, carob gum, stevia, natural flavor, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin D3 Whole milk, sugar, heavy cream, natural flavors, sea salt Whole milk, sugar, heavy cream, natural flavors, sea salt
Calories Per Serving 160 calories/ cup 120 calories/ cup 80 calories/ cup 150 calories/ cup 35 calories/ tbsp 35 calories/ tbsp
Nutrient Content Per Serving 9g fat, 12g sugar, 8g protein/ cup 5g fat, 12g sugar, 8g protein/ cup 0g fat, 12g sugar, 8g protein/ cup 5g fat, 17g sugar, 8g protein/ cup 1g fat, 5g sugar, 0g protein/ tbsp 1g fat, 5g sugar, 0g protein/ tbsp

You can find a2 Milk products near you through the company’s store locator. Your purchase will qualify for the standard return policy at the location you purchased it.

If you have any questions to direct to the A2 Milk company, you can do so through the website’s contact page or at (844) 422-6455.

A2 Milk vs. Other Dairy Brands

To get a sense of how a2 Milk’s pricing and nutritional data compares to other brands, we made this chart to look at the same statistics for several popular brands of 2% milk.

a2 2% Reduced Fat Milk Horizon Organic 2% Reduced Fat Milk Clover Sonoma 2% Reduced Fat Milk Organic Valley 2% Reduced Fat Grassmilk Maple Hill Organic 2% Reduced Fat Milk
Cost (San Francisco) $4.99/ half gallon $4.49/ half gallon $3.49/ half gallon $5.99/ half gallon $6.49/ half gallon
Ingredients Reduced-fat milk, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin D3 Reduced-fat organic milk, grade A nonfat organic milk, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin D3 Milk, nonfat milk, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin D3 Organic homogenized reduced-fat grade A milk, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin D3 Organic reduced fat milk, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin D3
Calories Per Serving 120 calories/ cup 140 calories/ cup 140 calories/ cup 130 calories/ cup 130 calories/ cup
Nutrient Content Per Serving 5g fat, 12g sugar, 8g protein/ cup 5g fat, 14g sugar, 10g protein/ cup 5g fat, 13g sugar, 10g protein/ cup 5g fat, 11g sugar, 8g protein/ cup 5g fat, 12g sugar, 8g protein/ cup

As this chart shows, a2 Milk falls in the middle from a pricing standpoint, though the milk isn’t grass-fed or certified organic like many of these other brands.

Each brand also provides a similar calorie content per serving and includes the same amount of fat and approximately the same amount of sugar and protein.

The one big difference between them is that only a2 Milk specifies the kind of protein it contains. To our knowledge, the a2 Milk Company is the only commercial supplier of cow’s milk without A1 protein.

That will likely be a deciding factor for you if you react badly to regular milk and want to see if the issue is related to protein rather than lactose intolerance. If, however, you can drink regular milk without a problem, you may prefer to invest in a brand with other selling points, like organic certification.

Analysis of Customer Reviews

There are 382 a2 Milk reviews on Moms Meet, averaging five stars, and 15 reviews on HighYa averaging 4.5 stars. Here are some of the key comments that they make.

Common Compliments:

  • Reduced bloating and stomachaches associated with drinking regular milk
  • Made it possible for people to drink milk again after years of avoiding it
  • Soothed infants with problems digesting regular milk
  • Less expensive than goat’s milk for similar benefits
  • Great for those with known protein sensitivities

Common Complaints:

  • Doesn’t reduce symptoms of lactose intolerance
  • Too expensive
  • Triggered digestive problems for some users
  • Many users didn’t notice a difference from regular milk

The Bottom Line: Is It Worth It?

Despite less-than-robust scientific evidence for its increased health benefits, the majority of a2 Milk customers love this dairy brand, and many credited it with making it possible for them to drink milk again.

For those who can’t drink regular milk without dealing with stomach problems, there’s reason to believe that a2 Milk will solve that problem. However, this beverage won’t be any easier to digest for those who are indeed lactose intolerant.

There are other dairy alternatives if your issues are related to the A2 protein content. Consider seeking out sheep, goat, or even breastmilk, if you’re feeding a baby, and know that many cow breeds naturally don’t produce A1 proteins.

You may also be able to find a niche dairy near you that specializes in Jersey, Guernsey, Brown Swiss, or another cow breed that produces A2 protein milk.

In any case, we think it makes sense for anyone with a milk sensitivity to try a2 Milk to see if they react differently to it than regular milk. You may find that doing so changes your whole perspective on your dairy options.


Customer Reviews

Start your review of a2 Milk:
  • 16 Customer Reviews
  • 81% Recommend This Company
4.3 out of 5
5 star: 81% 4 star: 0% 3 star: 0% 2 star: 6% 1 star: 12%

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  • a2 Milk

    Overall Experience:

    I paid $4.69 at Publix, put it in my cereal and had the worse stomach ache. Never again. What a waste of money, and I am for real. I have nothing else to say except horrible, horrible, horrible. Nothing good to say.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend


  • a2 Milk review

    • By Nicole B.,
    • Charlotte, NC,
    • Jan 11, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    I decided to try this milk after watching the commercials on TV. Lactaid milk still gives me gas, I had one glass of this a2 Milk and guess what? Still gas. I have wasted my $4 again.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend


  • Didn't work for me

    • By Mimi H.,
    • North Carolina,
    • Mar 6, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    I tried the 2% a2 Milk; drank it plain, with cereal and with coffee. I had the same discomfort as I would with regular milk. I am lactose intolerant and I had all the same symptoms with a2 Milk. Was not worth the money or had any benefits for me. I would not recommend it to my friends and family. This may be OK for an extremely small population of lactose-intolerant people but not for me. Only positive, it tastes great.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend


  • Great stuff

    • By Kavan,
    • Chicago, IL,
    • Mar 6, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    I have been using a2 Milk for over one year now. It's great.

    The Hienen's in Glenview, IL is my original location. But both of the locations they have are awesome, but the original one has the cream on top and is not filtered out. That is awesome. I don't know if the science is true, but it tastes even better than regular milk. Also, it does not make my asthma worse as often like regular milk does.

    The only problem is that only the Hienen's in Glenview, IL has it. So does the Lakebluff, IL Heinen's, according to their website, but the website is so outdated. Most of the listing I called about they don't have. Target has it on their website also, but it says no store in 100 miles when I check. How odd. Why is it on their website if nobody has it? And the Fresh Market in Lincolnshire, IL has it, but not the No Skim one, only the Whole, 2%, and 1%. And Hienen's has it, but only 2% and Whole for both brands.

    And the origin a2 Milk has a Chocolate Milk also, but the Chocolate has carrageenan, so no thanks. The 2% and Whole do not say if they have carrageenan.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend


  • I don't have lactose intolerance!

    • By RM Bach,
    • Florida,
    • May 25, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    Wow, I have been using lactose-free milk now for over six years and never really enjoyed milk like I did as a kid. I tried a2 for the first time (now for two weeks) only to find that I love regular milk again! There is no more discomfort, no more tummy issues. Thanks a2!

    I purchased at Publix on a sale of two for $3 with two $1.00 off coupons. Cha-ching!

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend


  • Can't believe it!

    • By Lois Bynum,
    • Port Orange, FL,
    • Jun 9, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    I am a milk drinker from way back. I have always loved milk with any meal, snack, even with things like potato chips. I know, ugh. Needless to say, I have a lactose condition for the last 15 to 20 years and trust me, I have tried all the almond and soy products that have hit the market.

    Today again, I heard about a2 Milk and ran out to try this new product. I can't believe it. It tastes just like regular milk. This is the most amazing discovery for me, a milk lover. I highly recommend this to all who love milk and have had to give it up. This one's really the real thing.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend


  • I can drink milk again!

    • By Pam,
    • Georgia,
    • Jul 3, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    We found out about a2 Milk by accident while my sixth grader was researching a science fair project on milk and found the book, "Devil in the Milk." I read it four or five times and was amazed. I wanted to try this and see if I could drink milk again. However, it was not being sold in the United States.

    The next year, my husband brought home a carton one day and said, "Hey, look what I found at Sprout's?" And I tried an ounce and waited. Another couple of ounces and waited. Nothing. No reaction.

    Since I was a teenager, milk has caused a severe upper respiratory reaction where my sinuses just poured gunk down into my lungs that led to bronchitis or pneumonia within two days. I couldn't even eat homemade ice cream. I could only eat cereal with orange juice on it (yeah, I know, yuck).

    What a difference. I can eat cereal with milk again! Hallelujah! The soy milk just didn't taste that good. This is the greatest thing. I love the rich yummy taste, and I was driving an hour to get it. Now Publix, which is 25 minutes away, carries it, so I don't have to go as far. It has been the greatest feeling knowing I can drink milk again.

    Thank you a2 Milk Company for carrying on Dr. McLaughlan's dream and for giving people like me, who have problems, with a milk as an alternative. Milk, the way it's supposed to be.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend


  • Love this milk

    • By Gebe,
    • Miami, FL,
    • Apr 21, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    I'm so glad this milk is produced because I'm dairy intolerant and even though I cannot drink it on regular basis, I can at least drink it on and off without any problems. It is also great tasting. Now I would like to see cheese, yogurt, and ice cream made from a2 Milk.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend


  • a2 Milk

    • By Ozzy,
    • Florida,
    • May 12, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    I love this milk. The other milks make me sick, and now with a2 I can have some at midnight and it doesn’t make me sick. A2 is the best milk around and my husband like it to. So get out and get some a2 Milk for people that can’t enjoy real milk.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend


  • Allergies?

    • By Chris G.,
    • Texas,
    • May 27, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    I was allergy tested which showed a slight allergy to milk (I'm not lactose-intolerant). But, in addition, I was also allergic to, quite literally, everything else they tested for, to some degree. I have a long, complicated history with allergies and intestinal problems, to say the least.

    Anyways, I continued to drink regular milk because it was hard to replace the nutritional aspects of it. But I was having, at the same time, many neurological problems (which still persist), such as memory loss and an extreme difficulty concentrating or focusing. Finally, a health care worker suggested that I stop drinking milk and so I did and my problems with concentration, while still there, were improved. However, over the course of the year after giving up milk, I began to lose lots of weight and developed a "mild fatty liver," likely a result of my poor diet of foods I substituted in place of milk.

    Later, I also discovered that because of my major allergies to dogs (Type 5) it likely skewed all the results on my allergy test, such that I do not actually have an allergy to milk or shrimp.

    But drinking plain milk makes me feel bad in a way that might be best described as a cross between PTSD and ADHD.

    So, what gives?

    Well, I began to read about the associations between the stomach and brain, especially for those with compromised intestinal barriers ("leaky gut").

    A2 milk does not give me that edgy, unfocused feeling like regular milk does. I can also drink goat's milk without ill effect. I don't mind the taste of goat's milk, but it is expensive.

    On another note, I have never been able to drink most any chocolate milk because it has either corn or carrageenan in it. So, their chocolate milk I would recommend to anyone, compromised stomach or not, as it's not only of good quality, but possibly the best I've ever had.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend


  • 21-month-old with problems digesting regular milk

    • By Bridget M.,
    • Fife,
    • Jul 27, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    I am so happy to have found this milk for my 21-month-old son has had problems with wind, painful gas, and reflux since changing to regular milk from Nutramigen Pure Amino (prescribed by a doctor) and frequent night wakings having to rub his tummy for hours, 3-5 in the morning. It's only been two days on A2 milk, and he's slept all night both nights and no painfully gas and wind at all. I always suspected my son was sensitive to milk and struggled to digest it rather than a milk allergy or lactose intolerance, as he could eat small amounts of yogurt and cheese with no side effects.

    If your child has a genuine milk allergy, then consult a doctor first before trying this milk. But if you're a parent to a sensitive tummy toddler I highly recommend giving this a try. It's a bit on the expensive side, but I plan on buying the long life whole milk version to store in my cupboards on the occasion's when I can't get to the shops. It's cheaper, and I can buy in bulk online which lasts up to six months. It also has no preservatives, so nothing added, just different packaging and has that ultra heat treatment. I get monthly milk tokens so I can use them to get a long life or fresh A2 milk in stores. I have not checked if I can buy a long life version in store yet. If it's not widely available it might be a suggestion to the A2 company to spread out the long life version to all stores to give parents a cheaper option.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend


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a2 Milk Review: A Detailed Look