Dr. Robert Cook - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Robert Cook

Is Milk Protein Concentrate Bad For You?

Also Known As: MPC



Short answer

Milk Protein Concentrate (MPC) is not bad for most people and offers high-quality protein containing all essential amino acids. While beneficial for muscle synthesis and satiety, it can pose issues for those with milk allergies or lactose intolerance. The presence of additives and the quality of the milk source can also influence its overall health impact. However, for many, MPC is a nutritious supplement option.



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Long answer

Understanding Milk Protein Concentrate and Its Processing

Milk protein concentrate (MPC) is a concentrated milk product that contains both casein and whey protein in a ratio that is typically similar to that of milk. To comprehend whether MPC is beneficial or potentially harmful, it's crucial to understand its production process and composition.

Production of MPC begins with the filtration of skim milk using ultrafiltration technology. This process concentrates the milk proteins by removing a significant portion of the water, lactose, minerals, and other non-protein elements. The level of protein concentration in MPC can vary, ranging from 40% to 85%. The percent concentration of protein in MPC is frequently indicated by a number following the term MPC (such as MPC 70 for a 70% protein concentration).

Here's a step-by-step breakdown of how MPC is processed:

  • Milk is skimmed to remove fat content.
  • The skimmed milk is passed through a series of ultrafiltration membranes to concentrate the milk proteins.
  • Water, along with lactose, minerals, and other solubles, passes through the membrane filter, while the proteins are retained.
  • The resultant concentrated protein liquid is then spray-dried into a powder form to create MPC.

The degree of processing and the removal of non-protein components play a significant role in determining the nutritional quality and digestibility of the MPC. In comparison to whole milk, MPC is lower in lactose, and some minerals may also be reduced due to the processing methods.

It is imperative to analyze clinical trials and nutritional studies to fully understand the health implications of consuming MPC. For instance, research published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition suggests that protein concentrates like MPC may be beneficial in improving muscle protein synthesis due to the presence of essential amino acids and branched-chain amino acids. However, processing techniques could potentially denature some proteins, affecting their biological activity.

One concern about MPC production is the quality of the milk source. It is important that the milk used comes from cows that are not treated with hormones or antibiotics, ensuring the purity of the concentrate. Furthermore, the working conditions and hygiene standards of the manufacturing facilities are crucial to prevent contamination and guarantee a safe end product.

Inspecting the MPC label for any additives introduced during processing is also recommended. Additives such as emulsifiers, stabilizers, or fillers might be added during processing to improve the texture or mixing capabilities of the powder, which could affect individuals with specific sensitivities or allergies.

Whether MPC is harmful or not greatly depends on an individual's dietary needs, allergy profile, and the quality of the product consumed. Considering these factors and choosing products that have undergone minimal processing with no added substances may tip the scales towards this supplement being a nutritious addition to one's diet.

Nutritional Profile of Milk Protein Concentrate

Milk Protein Concentrate (MPC) is a highly versatile ingredient used in various food products. It's created through a process that removes the lactose, minerals, and water from milk, which leaves a concentrated milk protein powder. The nutritional composition of MPC can vary depending on its concentration levels, which generally range from 40% to 85% protein by weight. Understanding the nutritional profile of MPC is crucial for evaluating its health implications.

Typically, MPC is rich in essential amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein needed by the human body for growth and repair of tissues. Notably, it contains a substantial amount of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), such as leucine, isoleucine, and valine, which are particularly important for muscle synthesis and recovery. Here’s a more detailed breakdown:

  • Protein: A high-quality source of casein and whey proteins, it supports muscle growth and immune function.
  • Carbohydrates: Generally low in carbohydrates, the lactose content is significantly reduced, making it suitable for those with lactose intolerance.
  • Fat: MPC's fat content can vary, but it's typically lower than whole milk since much of the fat is removed during processing.
  • Vitamins and Minerals: It mostly retains calcium and phosphorus, which are vital for bone health. Some processing methods can also preserve vitamins like riboflavin and vitamin B12.

The specific content of vitamins and minerals can be affected by the degree of concentration and the processing methods used to produce the concentrate. A study comparing different protein sources might provide insight into the exact mineral content retained in the various grades of MPC. For instance, the Journal of Dairy Science featured a study which investigated the separation techniques that may influence the nutritional content.

Nutrient Approximate Content in 100g of 80% Milk Protein Concentrate*
Protein 80g
Total Fat 1-3g
Carbohydrates 5-10g
Calcium 800mg
Phosphorus 600mg

*Values are approximate and can vary based on the manufacturer and processing method.

When considering the nutritional profile of MPC, it's important to look at the context of the overall diet. For individuals who lack sufficient protein intake, or for athletes seeking muscle recovery, MPC could be a concentrated source of necessary nutrients. However, the protein needs of the average person can be typically met through a balanced diet, which calls into question the need for such concentrated sources of protein.

Lastly, while the nutritional composition offers clues to its health impact, the way MPC is used in products should also be considered. It’s often found in meal replacement shakes, bars, and processed foods, which may include additional ingredients that can diminish the potential health benefits of MPC itself. Thus, when evaluating its health effects, one must weigh both the intrinsic nutritional benefits and the potential drawbacks of the overall food matrix in which MPC is included.

Allergens and Lactose Intolerance Concerns

Milk protein concentrate (MPC) is a highly refined product derived from cow's milk and contains both casein and whey proteins. While MPCs offer a concentrated source of proteins, they also pose significant allergenic risks to certain individuals, and can exacerbate symptoms in those with lactose intolerance. Understanding these risks is crucial for consumers to make informed dietary choices.

Potential Allergens in MPC:

  • Casein: As the main protein in milk, casein is a common allergen. Individuals with a milk protein allergy may experience adverse reactions ranging from hives and itching to anaphylaxis when consuming products containing MPC.
  • Whey: Although less allergenic than casein, whey protein can still trigger allergic reactions in some individuals. Whey protein includes several components, like alpha-lactalbumin and beta-lactoglobulin, which are potential allergens.

For those with milk allergies, consuming MPC can lead to serious health implications and must be avoided.

Lactose Intolerance and MPC:

Lactose intolerance is another concern related to MPC. This condition stems from the body's inability to produce enough of the enzyme lactase, which is necessary for lactose digestion. MPC may contain varying levels of lactose, depending on the degree of concentration and the manufacturing process.

  • Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance: Individuals with lactose intolerance may experience digestive distress after consuming MPC, including symptoms such as bloating, gas, cramps, and diarrhea.
  • Lactose Content in MPC: Although some MPCs are processed to reduce lactose content, not all are lactose-free. Labels often lack detailed information regarding lactose levels, making it difficult for lactose-intolerant consumers to assess the risk.
  • Choosing Lactose-Free Alternatives: For those with lactose intolerance, seeking out lactose-free protein concentrates or plant-based alternatives can be critical to avoid gastrointestinal issues.

Both the presence of potential allergens and the lactose content in MPC underscore the importance of allergic and intolerance considerations in supplement choices. Consumers with these concerns must scrutinize product labels and, when in doubt, consult with a healthcare provider or a registered dietitian to safely navigate their dietary needs.

In summary, while MPC can be a beneficial supplement for protein intake, it's not suitable for everyone. Awareness of milk protein allergies and lactose intolerance is vital before incorporating MPC into one's diet. It's also worth noting that regulations require allergen labeling on food products; however, the specificity of lactose content is not always mandated. This gap in labeling can pose a challenge for those sensitive to lactose.

Overall, the considerations for allergens and lactose content should not be an afterthought when evaluating the impacts of milk protein concentrate on one's health. Investigate thoroughly, understand your body's reactions, and make choices based on sound, scientific evidence.

Controversy Over MPCs in Food Products and Regulation

The use of Milk Protein Concentrates (MPCs) in food products has been a topic of ongoing debate and controversy. Central to the discussion are concerns over the regulation, labeling, and potential health implications of MPCs. Below, we'll explore the key points that fuel this controversy, relying on the latest evidence and expert insights.

The Debate on Food Regulation and Safety Standards

There is an international divide in how MPCs are regulated. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet established a standard of identity for MPCs, which means the exact definition and allowable uses in food products remain somewhat ambiguous. This has led to uncertainty about the quality and safety of MPCs, particularly those imported from other countries where standards may differ.

On the other hand, some countries within the European Union have specific standards for milk proteins, which must be adhered to if products are to be sold within those countries. The lack of global consensus on standards and regulation impacts how MPCs are perceived both by consumers and professionals within the food industry.

Concerns Over Allergenicity and Digestive Health

MPCs contain both casein and whey proteins, which can be allergens for certain individuals. The concentration of milk proteins could potentially heighten the allergenic risk. Moreover, there are questions about the impact of MPCs on digestive health, particularly for those with lactose intolerance or sensitivity to dairy products, as the concentration process may not remove all lactose content.

Labeling Transparency and Consumer Knowledge

A major concern surrounding the use of MPCs is the lack of clear labeling. Without a standard of identity, manufacturers may include MPCs in products without providing detailed information on the label. This lack of transparency can prevent consumers from making informed dietary choices, particularly those who have dietary restrictions or allergies related to dairy.

Impact on the Dairy Industry and Local Markets

The increasing use of MPCs, often imported, has raised economic concerns among local dairy farmers and producers. Imported MPCs, which may be less expensive due to different production standards abroad, can impact the market for local dairy proteins. There is an ongoing debate about how this affects domestic dairy production and what it means for the sustainability of local dairy farming.

Quality Variability and Food Product Integrity

The inconsistency in quality among different sources of MPCs has fueled skepticism about their use in various food products. When quality varies widely, questions arise about the nutritional value and integrity of the food products that contain MPCs. Some argue that certain grades of MPCs may not have the same nutritional benefits as whole dairy proteins, potentially misleading consumers who are seeking the nutritional advantages associated with traditional dairy consumption.

Expert Opinions and Independent Research

Expert opinions on the use of MPCs in food products are mixed. Some nutritionists and food scientists advocate for stricter standards and more research into the potential health impacts of MPCs, while others argue that MPCs provide a concentrated source of protein that can benefit some populations. Few independent, peer-reviewed studies have specifically focused on the health effects of MPCs, leaving a gap in the literature that warrants further investigation.

In summary, while MPCs are widely used in an array of food products, the debate over their regulation, labeling, and health effects remains a contentious issue within the food and health industries. Stakeholders, including consumers, regulators, health experts, and industry professionals, continue to call for clearer standards and more research to fully understand the implications of MPC use in our food supply.

Protein Quality and Absorption Rates

Milk Protein Concentrate (MPC) is frequently found in a variety of food products, ranging from protein bars and shakes to processed cheese and baked goods. Understanding the protein quality and absorption rates of MPC is crucial for determining its potential impact on health.

Firstly, let's address the protein quality of MPC. Protein quality is often measured by its amino acid profile and digestibility. MPC contains both casein and whey, which are high-quality proteins that provide all essential amino acids necessary for human health. The Biological Value (BV), a measure of how efficiently the body can use a protein, is very high for both casein and whey, at approximately 77 and 104 respectively.

Moreover, the Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS), another method for evaluating the protein quality which factors in both the amino acid requirements of humans and their ability to digest it, rates casein and whey protein as complete proteins with scores close to 1, the highest possible score. Given that MPC contains both casein and whey, it too is regarded as a source of high-quality protein.

When it comes to absorption rates, it's worth noting that casein and whey proteins are absorbed differently by the body. Whey protein is known for its fast absorption rate, making it an ideal post-workout supplement because it quickly provides amino acids to muscles, which may aid recovery and growth. It has been found to significantly increase protein synthesis following exercise, according to a review published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Contrastingly, casein is absorbed slowly, leading to a gradual release of amino acids. This makes it beneficial for reducing muscle breakdown and providing a sustained source of amino acids, potentially leading to muscle repair over extended periods. A study in the Journal of Nutrition suggested that casein's anti-catabolic properties make it a good protein to consume before fasting periods, like sleep.

MPC's varying absorption rates due to its content of both casein and whey could potentially offer a synergistic effect. The combination of immediate and sustained release of amino acids may promote a more balanced protein synthesis and breakdown, possibly enhancing muscle maintenance and growth over time. It should be noted that individual absorption rates can vary due to factors such as digestive health, age, and overall metabolism.

In conclusion, Milk Protein Concentrate provides both high-quality protein and varying absorption rates that can cater to differing dietary and athletic demands. However, as with all protein supplements, it should be noted that whole food sources are also very important and that more isn’t always better. Excess protein intake, above what your body requires, may not offer additional benefits and could potentially strain the kidneys over time, especially in those with pre-existing kidney conditions.

For individuals who are lactose intolerant or have milk protein allergies, MPC might pose problems due to its dairy origin. Symptoms could include gastrointestinal discomfort, such as bloating, gas, or diarrhea, when lactose is not properly digested. As always, it's important to consult with a healthcare provider before incorporating any new supplement into your diet.

Potential Health Benefits and Drawbacks of MPC Supplementation

Milk Protein Concentrate (MPC) is a highly versatile ingredient used in various food products, including sports nutrition bars, meal replacements, and dairy goods. It is derived from skim milk through various processes to concentrate the milk proteins, primarily casein and whey. Understanding the potential health benefits and drawbacks of MPC supplementation is critical for consumers discerning whether it aligns with their dietary goals and needs.

Health Benefits:

  • Protein Quality: MPC contains all nine essential amino acids required by the body for muscle synthesis and repair. The presence of casein and whey proteins offers a complete amino acid profile that is highly valued, especially among athletes and individuals engaging in regular physical activity.
  • Extended Protein Delivery: The combination of slow-digesting casein and fast-absorbing whey in MPC can provide a sustained release of amino acids to the muscles. This is particularly beneficial for promoting recovery and muscle protein synthesis over extended periods, such as overnight.
  • Satiety and Weight Management: Protein-rich supplements like MPC have been shown to increase satiety, potentially aiding in weight management by reducing overall caloric intake. A study published in Nutrition Journal noted that a higher protein diet could help control hunger and subsequent eating.
  • Supports Bone Health: The high-quality protein in MPC, combined with its natural calcium content, may support bone health. Proteins play a vital role in maintaining bone density and integrity.


  • Lactose Content: While the lactose content in MPC is lower than in regular milk, it may still cause digestive discomfort for individuals with lactose intolerance.
  • Allergen Concerns: People with milk allergies should avoid MPC since it can trigger allergic reactions.
  • Quality Variations: MPC comes in different grades, indicated by protein content percentages. Some lower-quality MPC products may contain less protein and higher levels of carbohydrates and fats, diminishing the anticipated health benefits.
  • Artificial Additives: Some MPC supplements can contain artificial sweeteners, flavors, or other additives that may not be desirable for all consumers.
  • Research Gaps: While evidence supports the benefits of milk proteins, the specific advantages of MPC supplementation over other protein sources need broader and more conclusive research.

When evaluating the benefits and drawbacks of ingesting MPC, a crucial aspect is the context of an individual's overall diet and nutritional needs. For some, the supplement will offer convenient, high-quality protein supplementation; for others, the drawbacks may outweigh the benefits. Always prioritize the integration of whole food sources of protein and consult a dietitian or nutrition professional to tailor dietary choices to your personal health objectives and conditions.

Frequently asked questions

MPC is generally safe for those who can tolerate dairy products. However, side effects could arise in individuals with lactose intolerance or milk protein allergies, causing digestive discomfort or allergic reactions. Additionally, the presence of additives in some MPC products may not be suitable for individuals with specific sensitivities.

MPC can support muscle gain in athletes due to its high-quality protein, which contains all the essential amino acids necessary for muscle synthesis. The presence of both whey and casein provides a mix of fast and slow-absorbing proteins, beneficial for post-workout recovery and ongoing muscle repair.

MPC generally retains calcium and phosphorus after processing, which are important minerals for bone health. The high-quality protein within MPC also plays a role in maintaining bone density and integrity, which may contribute to overall skeletal health.

Yes, milk protein concentrate (MPC) is suitable for lacto-vegetarians who include dairy products in their diet. MPC is derived from cow's milk and does not contain any meat products, making it consistent with lacto-vegetarian dietary practices. Vegans, however, avoid all animal products and by-products, so MPC would not be suitable for a vegan diet.

Ask a question about Milk Protein Concentrate and our team will publish the answer as soon as possible.

Possible short-term side effects

  • gastrointestinal discomfort
  • allergic reactions
  • bloating
  • gas
  • diarrhea

Possible long-term side effects

  • possible kidney strain with excessive intake
  • heightened allergenic risk

Ingredients to be aware of

  • lactose
  • casein
  • whey
  • artificial additives


  • high-quality protein
  • muscle synthesis support
  • sustained amino acid release
  • increased satiety
  • bone health support

Healthier alternatives

  • whole food protein sources
  • plant-based protein powders
  • lactose-free protein options

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

NOW Pea Protein

  • 24g protein per serving
  • Fast absorbing
  • Unflavored versatility
  • Plant-based protein
  • Non-GMO
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Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Joey Conners
Published on: 01-19-2024

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Joey Conners
Published on: 01-19-2024

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