Innovation

Innovate in infant formula with MFGM Lipids

25 Aug 2021

6 min

Cognitive development is one of the most important areas that parents care about when thinking about their young ones. In fact, research has shown that in markets like China, it’s one of the main concerns for parents purchasing infant formula and acts as a driver that influences their decisions on how best to ensure their children are getting optimal nutrition. The infant brain grows rapidly in early life and relies on a constant supply of energy and key nutrients to grow and function. Fuelling this growth is an important function of human breast milk. 

Learning from the gold standard for infant nutrition.

Human breast milk is widely acknowledged to be the gold standard that infant formula, which is the only acceptable alternative, aims to emulate. Breast milk is the ideal source of nutrition for young infants, offering protection against infections, supporting optimal growth and benefits for cognitive development, as well as playing a potential role in programming for health in later life.

Studying breast milk reveals it to be a rich source of important lipids, including some that have shown potential benefits for infant development. These lipids are found in the milk fat globule membrane (MFGM).

The Milk Fat Globule Membrane (MFGM)

All milk from mammals contains droplets of fat surrounded by an interesting membrane called the milk fat globule membrane. The MFGM is made up of hundreds of interesting minor components, including Phospholipids, Gangliosides, and Proteins, which may perform a myriad of functions.  Phospholipids and Gangliosides in the brain have been shown to play key roles in cognitive function. Research has been done to aid our understanding of whether providing these components in infant formula, aligned to their optimum levels found in breast milk, has any benefits. The levels in breast milk have been found to be consistent across populations and ethnicities; they are also higher than the levels found in standard infant formula.

North African and European baby playing with coloured balls

MFGM Components and their effects on cognitive development

Research has found that Phospholipids and Gangliosides from the MFGM are associated with several benefits, including positive effects on brain development, behaviour, and stress response. In one study using our SureStart™ MFGM Lipid 100, positive results were observed in what’s known as the general adaptive score as well as social-emotional development. General adaptive score is a parent-reported combined measure of cognitive development seen as coping skills, communication, self-control, ability to adapt to situations. Social-emotional score is about behaviours and social responsiveness. These are key skills parents are now seeking over and above IQ.

Because research has also shown that the levels of these key MFGM components are much lower in standard infant formula, this means that formula-fed infants may be missing out on these benefits. The gap between levels of MFGM components in breast milk and infant formula is what NZMP’s SureStart™ MFGM Lipids were created to address.

Helping close the gap between breast milk and infant formula

The gap between MFGM content of breast milk and infant formula is because most infant formula is based on vegetable oils that don’t contain MFGM. However, we have cow’s milk ingredients enriched in MFGM to address the gap. MFGM ingredients provides a better Phospholipid profile, more closely matched to that found in breast milk.  It’s also the only source of Gangliosides, another key component in MFGM. Our SureStart™ MFGM Lipid 100 (derived from cream), and our SureStart™ MFGM Lipid 70 (derived from whey) both benefit from being naturally sourced from cow’s milk.

Middle Eastern and European baby playing together with wooden toys

The opportunity to innovate with infant formula

Parents are becoming more aware of the role that MFGM components may play in supporting cognition, and the infant formula market is already beginning to respond to this opportunity. NZMP’s SureStart™ MFGM Lipids are already receiving acclaim for their innovation and ingenuity, including winning the 2018 NutraIngredients Award (Asia) for Ingredient of the Year in the Infant Nutrition category. They offer an exciting chance for you to innovate with your products in response to a growing trend towards seeking cognition support within paediatric nutrition.

 

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