Meeting vitamin requirements is still a worldwide public health problem, especially when taking into account chronic suboptimal intakes. In contrast to what is generally believed, a large part of the population remains at risk, and this risk is primarily dependent on eating habits that, in turn, are dependent on age, physiology, season, geographical area, economic or social status, and cultural behavior.
Bovine milk contains the 13 known vitamins, and as a common component in the human diet, it makes a significant contribution to the reference intake of adults for several vitamins such as retinol (vitamin A: 11 to 16%), calciferol (vitamin D: 17 to 50%), riboflavin (vitamin B2: 32 to 46%), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5: 17 to 21%), and cobalamin (vitamin B12; 42 to 56%), according to reference values for fresh milk from USDA.
In Western societies, bovine milk and dairy products are among the primary contributors of retinol, calciferol, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, folic acid (B9), and cobalamin intakes in human nutrition. High nutritional density and the relatively low cost of milk and dairy products make them attractive sources of vitamins, especially for economically disadvantaged populations not having access to a diversified diet.
Factors, especially from dietary origin, that may or may not act directly on vitamin concentrations in milk of dairy species should be elucidated in order to propose rearing systems that promote production of milk with an improved nutritional value; that is, an “ideal milk” according to its vitamin content.