Milk is a protective food that offers almost all nutrients necessary for growth and development. It is for this reason that Mother's milk is universally recommended for the new born babies as long as possible. While the first 6 months period is critical for the baby to survive, Mother's milk guarantees its health if free from in-born diseases. It is during the later part of its growth when baby is weaned away from Mother's milk that it needs supply of essential nutrients for continued growth and milk from cows and buffaloes is most commonly used, especially by vegetarian population for meeting the requirements Calcium, Proteins and a few other nutrients not available adequately from other food sources. In some parts of the world milk from Goat and Camel is popular either because the most common milk yielding animals do not proliferate there or due to local consumption habits. Camels are part of life in Dessert areas like Middle East used commonly as a transportation mode but its potential as a source of milk is now being recognized. UAE is the pioneer in promoting Camel Milk which is being exported in some quantities out side the region, probably for health conscious consumers because of its unique composition.
"Camel is a vital part of Arabian culture and tradition and its milk is an important component of the diet in the UAE and other Arab countries. Today camel milk is very important for human survival in many different countries. There are 18 million camels in the world which support the survival of millions of people in arid and semi-arid areas," the paper noted. Abdul Rahman said camel milk has a sweet and sharp taste normally, but at times it can taste salty and other times it tastes watery. "The quality of milk is affected by the number of calves, the age of the animal, the stage of lactation, the quality and quantity of feed, as well as the amount of water available. Talking about the benefits of camel milk, she said that camel milk is a rich source of proteins with potential anti-microbial and protective activity. "Some proteins are not found in cow milk, or only in minor concentrations. Camel milk need not be boiled as much as that of cow's or goat's. Strong in flavour, it must be drunk slowly to allow the stomach to digest it," said AbdulRahman. She said several studies have been conducted in connection with camel milk composition. "They point out that the fat content per unit in cow milk is 3.8% whereas it is 1.8% - 3.8% in camel milk. Vitamin C and Niacin are very higher in camel milk. Vitamins and proteins are different than in cow milk. "Camel milk also has a longer shelf life compared with other types of milk due to the presence of some special and strong compounds and this finding carries great importance to the people living in desert areas were cooling facilities were not available. The values of Lactoferrin and immunoglobulin were estimated slightly higher in camel milk than those reported in cow milk," she said.
The fact that Camel milk can be consumed without pasteurization because of the presence of some anti-bacterial substances lends itself to use in desert regions with least safety problem. But the digestibility issue is some thing which needs to be investigated as it could be due to presence of either some enzyme inhibitors or the complex nature of proteins present. Whether Camel milk will ever be a commercial proposition is uncertain because its value to the owners as a me is much more than income derived from milk extracted. Also not known is whether popular products like butter or cheese or yogurt can be made from Camel milk with acceptable characteristics.