Ingredients matter: The importance of MFGM in infant nutrition

From conception to second birthday, time passes in a flash of magical milestones, sleepless nights and a never-ending need for bigger clothes! With their growing brains working on everything from motor skills to social skills, it’s easy to see why the first 1000 days are considered to be the most significant period in a child’s development.

The first 1000 days will see a child’s organs and bodily systems grow rapidly and be highly responsive to nutritional influence1, meaning the right nutrition is more important than ever in providing the building blocks for a healthy future.

Breastmilk is the best form of nutrition for babies. The unique composition of breastmilk provides all of the nutrients a baby needs to thrive and has many beneficial properties for both mum and baby. One major component of breastmilk is fat, which makes up about 33% of breastmilk solids. An important part of this fat content is the milk fat globule membrane (or MFGM), which contains many bioactive components that benefit the growth and development of babies.

Recent evidence suggests that MFGM, derived from whole milk fat, may benefit babies by aiding in the maturation of the gut through the provision of essential nutrients, regulating various cellular events during infant growth and immune education.2

So, what is the milk fat globule membrane?

Milk from mammals is made up of large droplets, which are composed of fat molecules, called milk fat globules. These are targeted to release fatty acids as well as impart additional gut health. The milk fat globules are surrounded by a double-layered, phospholipid membrane structure.

This membrane structure is the part which is known as the MFGM, consisting of glycosylated membrane-bound proteins, polar lipids and carbohydrates, originating from the mammary gland plasma membrane.3

Why is MFGM so important?

MFGM is formed by a small subcategory of milk proteins, approximately 3-4% of the total protein which is present in human milk4 and which may help to shape gut microbial populations which help to protect against diseases in early life.5

While breastfeeding is the best option for a baby’s development, and is recommended as the sole source of nutrition for the baby’s first six months of life, it is not always possible. Some parents may not be able to breastfeed or choose not to, opting for a breast milk substitute to ensure their babies continue to receive optimal nutrition.

Traditionally, milk fat globule membrane was not present in most infant formulas as replicating the MFGM is difficult owing to its highly complex structure and variable composition3. The large majority of formulas available in the UK source their lipid content from exclusively vegetable oil sources instead which are very different in both size and composition to MFGM. The outcome being many formulas have a low concentration of the biologically important components which are present in the milk fat globule membrane.6

Clinical trials have shown that babies who have formula containing milk fat globule membrane go on to score higher in cognitive, language and motor development by their first birthdays than babies who consumed a formula which did not contain MFGM.3

Can infant formula provide this key ingredient?

With technology that makes the addition of bovine MFGM technically feasible, supplementation of infant formula may narrow the gap in cognitive performance and infection rates between breastfed and formula-fed infants.7

Here at Kendamil we uniquely use whole milk fat with naturally occurring MFGM as our source of fat. Fat is an important nutrient providing infants with energy and the building blocks for healthy growth and development, fat also plays a role in regulating the infant’s gut comfort.

By using whole milk as a source of fat we can also avoid the use of palm oil and use less vegetable oils overall – something we are very proud of!

If you have questions about the Kendamil range of product please contact one of our specialist healthcare team at hcp@kendamil.com

 

 

References

  1. www.thousanddays.org
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0022347616003000
  3. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fped.2018.00313/full
  4. https://badgut.org/information-centre/a-z-digestive-topics/milk-fat-what-the-mfgm/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257596/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5368573/
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27234413/
Ingredients matter: The importance of MFGM in infant nutrition

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