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What is Casein?

By Brendan McGuigan
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Casein is a protein that is found in milk and used independently in many foods as a binding agent. Technically, it is part of a group called phosphoproteins, collections of proteins bound to something containing phosphoric acid. It may also be called caseinogen, particularly in European foods.

A salt, meaning it has no net ionic charge, of the element calcium, casein has a number of interesting properties that make it useful in foods and cooking. Many people believe proteins are healthier if consumed when not denatured — one of the major lines of reasoning used in supporting a raw food diet. Denaturing occurs when a protein loses its inherent structure, due to high heat or acid for example, at which point it no longer acts in the ordinary manner. Casein, because of its structure, is not susceptible to denaturing.

Casein can be found in two main types: edible and technical. Edible casein is widely used in both medicine and food, both for nutritional value and as a binder. The technical type is used in an enormous range of products, including paints, cosmetics, and many types of adhesives. A significant number of people are allergic to this protein and may find themselves experiencing reactions both to food products and to products such as nail polish that contain it.

People with allergies or who are vegan, and therefore avoid animal products altogether, are not always aware of the prevalence of casein in foods. For these people, it is important to note that, although a product may be labeled lactose free, it may still contain casein for other reasons. Soy cheeses, for example, often contain protein derived from milk, which may stimulate allergic reactions in people who assume that they are dairy free.

Casein has also been linked to negative effects in people with autism. While in most people, this protein is easily broken down by the digestive system into peptides known as casomorphins, and then further processed into basic amino acids, some evidence suggests that in autistics, this process does not occur fully. The resulting casomorphins, which fail to break down completely, may have an effect on the body similar to that of morphine or other opiates. For this reason, some experts on autism recommend that people suffering from autism avoid products containing this protein.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By anon934595 — On Feb 21, 2014

Check out Dr. Mercola on casein, milk, bovine cows, autism, etc.. There's a a lot of information and research to back it up.

By anon356394 — On Nov 24, 2013

Ricotta is made from whey which is left over after straining cheese curds. The curds contain the casein.

By anon329386 — On Apr 09, 2013

Ricotta cheese is made from milk and does not contain casein.

By anon320390 — On Feb 17, 2013

My children were both casein intolerant as babies, however we were told casein was killed by cooking and freezing? It changed their lives. They could then eat cooked biscuits, frozen ice cream, yet you give them "mr Whippy" ice cream and they reacted immediately - instant diarrhea.

They outgrew their intolerance and were able to tolerate small amounts of dairy and certain supermarket brand dairy items. However, for the last couple of months their asthma has really been flaring up, and my son now has sinus problems and been advised to go casein free again.

By anon315036 — On Jan 21, 2013

Is casein in all dairy products?

By anon200537 — On Jul 27, 2011

When food allergies start showing up as a new born or an adult the digestive system has been compromised (most likely). GAPS should seriously be considered.

By anon165052 — On Apr 03, 2011

I get migraines from anything with MSG, which can also be worded as autolyzed yeast extract, any kind of hydrolyzed protein, yeast extract, and found out after eating some 'light' ice cream, casein or caseinate. Why is casein in so many products? I've been looking more carefully at labels and am surprised at how many products different forms of casein are included in the ingredients.

By anon162705 — On Mar 24, 2011

I have a sensitivity to whey and casein. is buffalo mozzarella OK for me to eat?

By anon161122 — On Mar 18, 2011

In response to the question about casein-sensitive individuals still being able to have whole cream and butter, my nutritionist told me the same thing.

I actually make my own butter (don't be impressed, it's so easy, all you need is a hand mixer and some cheese cloth) and I don't have any reaction to it. I'm guessing it's because the process of making the butter whips out all the milk components and just leaves the fat behind?

By anon155843 — On Feb 24, 2011

Casein may not 'cause' cancer, but casein does encourage cancer cells already within the body (everybody has some, somewhere) to grow and does discourages your body to fight if off like it normally would. There are recent studies proving this link. Casein is a cancer catalyst.

And though many of our ancestors have indeed been consuming animal milk products for years, doesn't it seem at all unnatural to you that we are the only mammal who drinks milk after infancy? How about that we are the only mammal who takes milk from another mammal's baby? We are a selfish species, so you can't base your decisions on the fact that anybody has been doing anything for hundreds of years.

Just because someone has done something a particular way, all their life, does not make them right. Read "The China Study" -- all fact, no opinion.

By anon153014 — On Feb 15, 2011

dear anon144163: as a matter of fact cottage cheese is one of the few cheeses that retains the whey protein in milk. If processed to remove all the lactose and then treated with (natural) enzymes to cleave the protein molecules into a more tolerable and useful to human beings form.

Whey is the best protein for you. Its amino acid profile is almost exactly the same as that of human muscle tissue. As a matter of fact, if you take this type of whey mixed only with water, it will pass through your stomach into your body not turning into a curd like substance that casein does.

It is the best protein for people and is regularly used for people with wasting diseases as it doesn't need to be digested to be absorbed by the body. Whey is the best part of cow's milk protein for the human body. This has been proven over and over again and been known to the medical and scientific communities for years.

By anon147468 — On Jan 29, 2011

Problem is the maasai are genetically predisposed to handle a cow's blood and milk diet as they are able to handle malaria unlike any other people not born in africa. Individuals in colder climates can handle higher fat diets with no problem. It's all relative to what your ancestors adapted to. not everyone can do and have the same things...I'm just sayin'.

By anon146994 — On Jan 28, 2011

Anyone know what the EWC code would be for the casein when it becomes a waste? i understand its compostable being an organic compound. I am looking for its waste classification. Thanks.

By anon145802 — On Jan 24, 2011

You wouldn't have to worry about casein sensitivity if you drink raw milk as ancient peoples were doing for thousands of years without cancer. look up the masaai.

By anon144163 — On Jan 18, 2011

Casein is nothing but Cottage Cheese. In India, it is called Paneer and part of the daily diet. You visit any Indian restaurant and ask for a dish containing Paneer. It is good for the health. In India, people have been consuming it since 3000 years.

You can see the images of Paneer online. It is totally harmless and good for diabetics and for vegetarians, as it is rich in proteins who can't get proteins from animal food. Indian food has hundreds of delicious Paneer dishes.

By anon139399 — On Jan 04, 2011

do casein and milk curdles have anything to do with each other?

By anon137104 — On Dec 26, 2010

To make edible casein is very simple.

In a heavy bottom pot over medium heat, add about a gallon of milk. Stir and watch it until it boils. When it comes to a boil, turn off flame and add about 3/4 cup of lemon juice. This will separate the curds and whey. Strain in a colander with a clean cheesecloth or open weave dishtowel. Rinse in cold water, then press with a heavy object to squeeze out excessive whey.

You can then fry it, add it to stews and stir fry dishes, etc. It is chewy, delicious and nutritional.

By anon114233 — On Sep 27, 2010

@anon111256: Check out the book "Devil in the Milk" to learn about the difference between A1 milk (most cows milk) and A2 milk (from goat and most other animals).

By anon111256 — On Sep 15, 2010

anon10267- it depends on the person, i am allergic to casein, and i have had both reactions. i used to get a rash but now it is more intestinal.

on another note, i heard that their are two different types of casein, one in cows and another type in goat and water buffalo, etc. but i can find no information on it. i would like to know, as it is somewhat important to my health.

By anon110892 — On Sep 13, 2010

anon109778- i would really love to know where your research came from so i can consider it as valid for my project.

By anon109778 — On Sep 09, 2010

Looks like a bunch of people are posting without any knowledge about casein. Here are the facts.

1) Casein is naturally occurring in all milk be it goat, cow, buffalo or human. Almost 80 percent of milk protein is casein. The other 20 percent is whey. Both casein and whey are complete proteins and have all the amino acids. Cheese is almost 100 percent casein.

2) For someone who has no issues with dairy or milk, casein is as harmless as milk is. However, if you are allergic to casein, you need to avoid it.

3) Casein does not contain lactose. Lactose is the simple sugar that's found in milk. Casein is the protein - a combination of a bunch of amino acids around a phosphatase.

4) Lactose intolerance and casein intolerance are two different things. Milk has both lactose and casein.

5) Casein is a slow acting protein (opposite of whey) that is ideal for taking right before sleep if you are in the bodybuilding game.

6) Saying something causes cancer blindly and something does not is total ignorance because each individual reacts differently. I have known people who smoke and are still living at 95 years old and I also know people who died of lung cancer at 40 who never smoked.

By anon100891 — On Aug 01, 2010

I am allergic to casein and only became allergic seven months ago. Within minutes of eating it my tongue, gi tract and then stomach start burning. Butter does not affect me, dark chocolate is fine, and yesterday I discovered an extremely rich cream cheese did not affect me either.

By anon97213 — On Jul 19, 2010

where can i buy pure casein in small quantities (5- 20 kg)? I need to study the effect of casein on sedimentation of beverage.

By anon87324 — On May 29, 2010

I'm reading the book "Skinny B*h" and it explains a lot of the propaganda and myths perpetuated by the dairy and beef industry. I highly suggest reading it or any other healthy eating book like "Diet for a New America" by John Robbins or anything by Dr. Neal Barnard. If you don't like reading, look online --highly informative!

By anon84883 — On May 18, 2010

I don't think it's fair to say that casein does or does not cause cancer. I think it would be more correct to say that casein may react poorly with a person's unique chemistry and could cause harm - especially if there is an allergy.

Allergies can manifest in very unusual ways. It would be very common allergy symptoms to be mistaken for something completely unrelated. That is documented science.

Children are especially influenced by their diet. Poor nutrition and allergies can manifest as behavior problems or learning disabilities. Removing casein from one diet may have no effect.

However, removing it from another child's diet may make all the difference.

By anon79953 — On Apr 25, 2010

My daughter is now severely allergic to casein and milk. Almond milk and rice milk seem to be OK. But does goat milk have casein in it? It is not listed on the label but may be within goat's milk. Does anyone know the structural make-up of goat milk?

By anon70708 — On Mar 15, 2010

it is proven especially in men that drink more milk will decrease such cancer cells of any kind by 25 percent. Casein does not cause cancer! And the GFCF diet does not help all autistic children.

By anon70357 — On Mar 13, 2010

Casein does not cause cancer.

By anon69859 — On Mar 10, 2010

casein causes cancer.

By anon66669 — On Feb 21, 2010

3 percent casein is available in milk.

By anon64546 — On Feb 08, 2010

what is the percentage of casein in cow, goat, sheep and buffalo milk?

By anon60767 — On Jan 15, 2010

what is the isometric value of casein?

By anon59516 — On Jan 08, 2010

what is the indication that casein is present in the elements carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and sulfur?

By anon56673 — On Dec 16, 2009

What is the amount of casien present in the pure milk (about 20ml)of cow, buffalo and goat?

By anon51171 — On Nov 03, 2009

Is casein acceptable for a vegan diet? I'm assuming no.

By anon50643 — On Oct 30, 2009

what is done to increase the bonding of casein based biological gloves to hands?

By anon48131 — On Oct 09, 2009

In the case of autism, could the person still consume casein and take a special digestive enzyme supplement? Where could I find the right enzymes to break down the peptides?

By anon43734 — On Sep 01, 2009

Casein is a listed ingredient of the first vaccination given to babies. The first food allergy in children is casein allergy. Is the casein used in vaccines the same as occurs naturally in all forms of milk from mammals? Wouldn't it seem obvious that milk allergy is caused by vaccinations?

By anon42612 — On Aug 22, 2009

Is casein in soy milk or rice milk? I need to frost a cake for someone allergic to all dairy products and whey proteins.

By anon41486 — On Aug 15, 2009

Hi, I would like to know the percentage of casein present in cow milk and buffalo milk normally.

By anon31766 — On May 11, 2009

What are the symptoms if you are allergic to casein?

By anon30449 — On Apr 19, 2009

Is Casein insoluble in hot water?

By lgreen — On Apr 13, 2009

I can't have casein, but I've been told that real butter and whole cream are OK. Is this true, and if so, why?

By anon25558 — On Jan 31, 2009

on adding acetic acid to milk, does the precipitate contain both whey protein and casein?-student

By anon25040 — On Jan 22, 2009

Is Casein addictive and bad for you?

By gailvh — On Oct 15, 2008

Is casein found in cream or half and half?

By anon16682 — On Aug 11, 2008

Why would the potential analgesic effects of casomorphins be considered negative? Last I checked, painkillers felt good.

By anon11785 — On Apr 22, 2008

Would you expect a hydolsate to casein to give a positive test with ammonium molybdate? Why?

By anon11517 — On Apr 17, 2008

Does Lactose contain casein? Specifically medications that contain lactose, would they also contain casein even if it's (casein) not listed in the ingredients?


No they are separate molecules, its just that people who are lactose intolerant are more likely to be casein intolerant than most - and it is also true for gluten. However I think your question comes from that fact that milk contains both lactose and casein so there could be confusion there, but forgive me if i'm wrong.

By sourena — On Mar 24, 2008

can one use casein as a blocking buffer during the western blotting?

By anon10267 — On Mar 23, 2008


just wondering how casien causes adverse reactions in the body? biologically . . what actually happens . . .does it occur in the intestines ?

By Conbon — On Feb 01, 2008

Does Lactose contain casein? Specifically medications that contain lactose, would they also contain casein even if it's (casein) not listed in the ingredients?

By anon7085 — On Jan 17, 2008


Does Casein block the body's absorption of calcium and vitamins?

By anon6270 — On Dec 21, 2007

How do they get the casein out of the milk? Is it obtained like whey is, during the process of making cheese? Just curious.

By anon5326 — On Nov 21, 2007

enginerd: good question, look for it on the ingredients list. if there are no milk ingredients and no added casein, i don't think the product will have any casein.

Anonymous: "Do you have to actually KILL an animal to get casein?"

No. Casein is found in milk, so you don't have to kill an animal to get it. Most dairy cows, however, are killed after their prime milk-producing years.

I presume you are asking this question because you want to maintain a vegetarian diet. So, casein is just as vegetarian as any other milk product.

On the subject of ethics, however, I would like to ask how ethical it is to feed your body a vegetarian diet to which it is maladapted. Our bodies respond well to wild fish and seafood, as these are foods that were prevalent throughout our evolution. People were not vegetarian as they evolved. So make sure not to do yourself a disservice in the name of ethical principle.

By anon4356 — On Oct 14, 2007

Do you have to actually KILL an animal to get casein?

By babagroup — On Aug 19, 2007


I would like to know the procedure of making acid casein edible grade, could you help in that.

By enginerd — On Jun 11, 2007

How would could you analytically measure either the amount or just the presence of casein in meat-based products?

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