Fat in human milk and in infant formula
Human milk provides the optimal nutrition for infants. Designed to provide balanced nutrition, human milk naturally meets the needs of growing infants in the first months after birth. In human milk, and in most infant formulas, approximately 50% of the energy is supplied to newborns as fat. The fat in both human milk and in infant formula is almost entirely (more than 98%) in the form of triglycerides, a typical molecule in which three fat components, called fatty acids, are attached to a glycerol back bone (figure 1). The typical fatty acids that are most abundant in human milk are the Palmitic acid and Oleic acid comprising 17-25% and 25-35% of the fatty acids in mature human milk. However, a very important characteristic of the palmitic acid is its special positioning on the triglyceride. The majority of the palmitic acid in human milk, about 70%, is positioned stereo-specifically to the middle position of the triglyceride which is also known as sn-2 position.
What is sn-2 palmitate?
The palmitic acid in human milk is positioned in a very unique way to the second (middle) position of the glycerol back bone also known as sn-2 position (figure 2). In human milk, approximately 70-75% of the palmitic acids is esterified to the sn2 position of the triglyceride (sn2 palmitate). In contrast, vegetable oils only have about 8-10% of their palmitic acid attached to sn2. This special preferential positioning is even more significant knowing that it is conserved in all women, regardless of their ethnic origin or nutrition.
INFAT®, manufactured by Advanced Lipids, is a sn2 palmitate (OPO) fat ingredient with clinically proven benefits.
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Clinical proven benefits of INFAT®
Clinical and pre-clinical studies have provided increasing evidence that INFAT® has a significant holistic effect on optimal infant development and well-being.
InFAT® reduces crying time by up to 75%
Crying is a basic, instinctive response and is a common spontaneous behavior, but prolonged crying may induce parental concern. The effect of INFAT® on crying time of infants was tested in a double-blind, randomized controlled study on 83 healthy term infants. The results of the study demonstrated that feeding babies with INFAT® containing infant formula for the first 12 weeks of their life reduced the crying time by up to 75% mainly during the afternoon and evening hours compared to a control formula (figure 3). The crying time for babies fed with INFAT® were comparable to levels of the breastfed babies in both crying duration and frequency. A similar study that was conducted independently tested the effect of INFAT on crying time, on infants that were fed with a formula that contains pre-biotics, an ingredient that was shown to reduce the crying duration of infants. The results of the study suggested that, INFAT® reduces the time duration and the frequency of crying time by 50% even when the infant formula contains pre-biotics. The results of both studies are consistent and strongly support the effect of INFAT® to reduce crying time of infants.
Human milk is the optimal choice of nutrition for almost all infants. The stools of breast-fed infants has a typical runny consistency, and this is different from formula fed babies. The effect of INFAT® on stool characteristics was tested in a double-blind, randomized controlled clinical study and the results show that infants fed with INFAT® containing infant formula have softer stools.
The study carried out on 83 Healthy newborn term infants show that the percentage of infants reported to have hard stools decreased almost by half when the infants were fed with INFAT® containing infant formula for 12 weeks compared with the control formula (Figure 4).
Babies nourished by formula
containing INFAT® exhibit less discomfort than those fed with regular breast milk substitutes.
Providing optimal nutrition in childhood is essential in our efforts to maximize bone mass in older age. A double-blind, randomized controlled study on 83 term infants measured the effect of INFAT® formula on bone strength. Bone strength was measured using bone Speed of Sound (SOS), a safe method that provides a more complete picture of bone strength than measurements of bone mineral density (BMD) alone. The study demonstrated a significantly higher bone SOS of term newborns who were fed INFAT® containing infant formula during their first 12 weeks of life, compared to newborns fed standard infant formula. The level of bone SOS of the infants from the INFAT® group was comparable with that of term breastfed newborns (Figure 5). Infant formula containing INFAT® provides the developing baby with proper nourishment for healthy growth.
Fat and Calcium Absorption
Fat constitutes approximately 25% of the dry weight of Human milk and infant formula, providing the newborn about 50% of the energy needed for proper growth and development. Fat absorption is therefore very important to support optimal growth. A multi-center, double blind, randomized, controlled study tested the effect of INFAT® containing infant formula on the absorption of fat and calcium in 171 term infants, compared with control formula fed babies, and breast fed babies. The babies’ stools were analyzed for dry weight, fatty acid content and the content of a combination of fatty acids bound to calcium, also known as soaped fatty acid. The results show that INFAT® reduced the level of the stool’s dry weight and that of soaped fatty acids, and in particular of soaped palmitic acid (figure 6) compared with control formula fed infants.
The study shows how INFAT® ensures the developing baby receives proper nourishment for healthy growth.
Healthy Gut Bacteria
During the first 2 years of life, the intestines bacteria, also known as the gut flora, is continuously modified. Therefore, the gut colonization which starts right after birth and during weaning is very important, and may play a role in the health of the baby later in life. A double blind controlled study tested the effect of INFAT® on the colonization of the intestines of newborns during the first 6 weeks of their life. The study showed that feeding with INFAT® containing formula for the first 6 weeks of life beneficially affected infant gut microbiota by increasing the lactobacillus and bifidobacteria counts in fecal stools compared to a control formula, and similarly to the count level of the breast fed infants (Figure 7).
INFAT® Controls Intestinal Health
The possible effect of INFAT® on the inflammatory response of the intestines, was tested in a pre-clinical study, using an animal model called Muc2 deficient mice. These mice are deficient of mucin2, a major component of the intestinal mucus, which affects the protective capacities of the mucus leading to spontaneous colitis at weaning. Muc2 deficient mice were divided to three experimental groups and received either a reference diet, a diet with INFAT® (high beta palmitate) or a control diet (low beta-palmitate). The mice were fed with the different diets for 5 weeks after weaning, and then analyzed for clinical symptoms, intestinal morphology and inflammation of the distal colon.
The results (figure 8) show that Muc2 deficient mice fed with INFAT® demonstrated a lower extent of intestinal morphological damage compared to mice fed with the control (low beta-palmitate) diet.