Consuming goat milk, rather than cow milk, may help prevent iron deficiency and softening of the bones, according to a study published by the International Dairy Journal (2006, vol. 16, no. 7; vol. 17, no. 4).

The laboratory study, conducted by the Department of Physiology at the University of Granada in Spain, compared the nutritional benefits of both normal and calcium-enriched varieties of goat milk and cow milk.

Researchers looked at the bioavailability of iron, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium in rodents who drank the different types of milk. After two weeks, they found that iron metabolism improved in both the control and anemic rats who were fed goat milk. Iron deficiency (anemia) also decreased in the goat-milk-fed anemic rats.

In addition, goat milk consumption promoted lower serum levels of parathyroid hormone (PTH), which helps regulate how much calcium is absorbed from diet and how much calcium is stored in the bones.

The group concluded that a diet including goat milk improves the body’s absorption and utilization of minerals. Javier Díaz Castro, PhD, one of the study’s authors, recommends drinking at least two glasses of goat milk a day—but adds that consuming cow dairy products is also beneficial. Researchers stressed that further studies in humans are needed to confirm the findings.