A US-based organisation ?the campaign for real milk? claim that raw milk contains more B vitamins, is richer in vitamin C, is easier to digest and contains more beneficial bacteria than your regular pasteurised pint.

This has lead to hundreds of thousands of health-conscious Californians and New Yorkers gulping down this green-topped milk variety. Raw Milk is now available in trendy markets such as ?the Chelsea Farmers Market? in London, and across England and Wales as demand increases. It has even been recommended for some allergy sufferers with conditions such as asthma, eczema and hay fever.

So, could these benefits support your health or is this just fashion?

The evidence

Well, most of this is anecdotal, but there are claims that the process of pasteurization with regular milk which is used to kill harmful bacteria such as E.coli and salmonella, also reduces vitamin content, beneficial bacteria and digestive enzymes. Interest in raw milks effect on allergic conditions has been studied looking at a sample of 4,700 primary school children in Shropshire.

The blood samples of those who drank just two glasses of raw milk per week showed 60% lower levels of immunoglobin E. Reduction in this release could potentially decrease allergic reactions. Critics argue, however, that contrary to the ?health drink? claims, drinking raw milk could be dangerous. Pasteurisation protects drinkers from exposure to bacteria such as salmonella and E.coli that could cause illness.

This milk has to carry a health warning on its labels and has been banned from sale in Scotland for more than 20 years. Although the allergy link is interesting, this requires further research and the results should be interpreted with caution. Some allergy sufferers have symptoms related to consumption of lactose or milk protein which is present in both milk varieties and therefore experimentation could be dangerous.

Reducing levels of Immunoglobin E for allergy sufferers who produce elevated levels is an interesting concept, but feed raw milk to those who have poor immune systems and this reduction in immune boosting immunoglobins could have disastrous results.

Layman Lowdown

Raw milk is a trend with mostly anecdotal evidence supporting its benefits. Although some claim that they have had a reduction in allergic symptoms, not enough research has been conducted in this area for any recommendations to be made. Potential negative health effects have also been identified, so although you might see the so called ?trendy? gulping down green top, I would recommend you give it a wide berth.

CW says: If you want to benefit from more vitamin C in your diet, eat more vegetables and fruit or invest in a multivitamin. If you require more B-vitamins, these can be obtained from lean meats and unrefined plant foods or from fortified cereals. Friendly bacteria can be topped up with a good probiotic, and all this, without a potential health risk.