a photo of A2 infant formula on grocery store shelf

A2 protein Infant Formula – What is it? And is it worth the hype?

By Heather Reymunde Wittmer, MS RDN LDN

A2 protein infant formula and A2 milks are showing up in grocery stores more and more. But what is it exactly?

What is A2 protein Infant formula?

To understand A2 protein infant formula, we first have to understand the protein components that make up cow’s milk. Cow’s milk contains the proteins whey and casein. However, to state it simply, casein comes in two varieties- beta casein proteins known as A1 and A2.

Some History:

A long time ago, cow’s milk contained only one of the beta casein proteins: (A2). Over time, through genetic mutation and breeding, cows started producing both A1 and A2 milk. Eventually A1 milk became the dominant protein type that we drink today. Interestingly, dairy herds in Africa, Asia and southern Europe continue to produce higher amounts of A2 milk, while the A1 version can be more commonly found in the western world (1).

Why the hype surrounding A2 protein?

The standard milk found in most western culture grocery stores contains BOTH A1 and A2 protein components. However, if you’ve looked at the shelves in your grocery store recently, you may see marketing for A2 milk or infant formula. That is because there are cows that still produce predominantly A2 milk that contains only the A2 form of beta casein.

The hype surrounding A2 milk is not new. In fact, it goes back to the late 1980s when research started examining how proteins are digested and if they had negative or positive effects on health (2). Scientists found that A1 and A2 proteins are digested differently. To keep it simple, A1 beta casein is digested in a way that it releases a protein fragment, therefore potentially making the digestion process more difficult. The beta casein A2 protein does not release protein fragments when digested It has been theorized, but not confirmed, that people who are immune compromised or have gastrointestinal issues
may experience easier digestion of milk with A2 proteins (3).

What about A2 Infant formula?

Considering that most standard infant formulas are derived from cow’s milk, if this theory is applied… A2 infant formula could potentially be easier to digest and very beneficial to infants experiencing reflux or other digestive issues- right?

What the research says…

Well, the majority of research studies as well as the science community are in agreement that there is a lack of evidence to prove A2 milk is better for health in adults. Studies that report benefits of A2 protein are often self-reported and lack repeated results in decreased inflammation. It is important to note as well that all the studies that have been included in the adult population and in fact, the effects of A2 infant formula with actual human infants have not been studied to date (4). Therefore, the benefits of A2 remain anecdotal and are not proven to demonstrate any significant benefits over the consumption of standard infant formula or milk and dairy products containing a combination of A1 and A2 beta casein.

Price Points

As a comparison to a standard infant formula, A2 formula is more expensive, depending on the brand. In some cases, up to $0.65/ounce (5)!

Price comparison chart of 3 infant formulas- standard version vs A2 protein version

Summing it all up:

A2 formula may sound like a good idea in theory, however, there is currently no scientific evidence that backs the claims of improved digestion in infants. Additionally, your child may require a specific formula based on their individual growth and health needs. If you have a child experiencing reflux or intestinal discomfort, seek the advice of your pediatrician, gastroenterologist and pediatric dietitian.

Want to learn more about how you can help your child become a happy, healthy eater? You can find more kids nutrition articles here!


  1. Patient education: Acid reflux (gastroesophageal reflux) in infants (Beyond the Basics)
    Author: Harland Https://www.uptodate.com/contents/acid-reflux-gastroesophageal-reflux-in-
  2. California Dairy research foundation – A2 Milk Facts – Gonca Pasin, Ph.D.
  3. Jianqin S, Leiming X, Lu X, Yelland GW, Ni J, Clarke AJ. Effects of milk containing only A2 beta
    casein versus milk containing both A1 and A2 beta casein proteins on gastrointestinal
    physiology, symptoms of discomfort, and cognitive behavior of people with self-reported
    intolerance to traditional cows’ milk. Nutr J. 2015;15(1):35. doi:10.1186/s12937-016-0147-z
  4. Production of Cow’s Milk Free from Beta-Casein A1 and Its Application in the Manufacturing of
    Specialized Foods for Early Infant Nutrition
  5. Target – https://www.target.com

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