Acta veterinaria 2009 Volume 59, Issue 5-6, Pages: 569-578
doi:10.2298/AVB0906569A
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Milk in human nutrition: Comparison of fatty acid profiles

Arsić Aleksandra, Prekajski Niveska, Vučić Vesna, Tepšić Jasna, Popović Tamara, Vrvić M., Glibetić Marija

Milk and milk products are very important in human nutrition. Fatty acids (FA), which are the major component of milk lipids, have different effects on human health. The aim of this study was to determine and compare fatty acid composition of human milk, infant formula and cow's milk most often consumed in Serbian population. Samples were analyzed by gas chromatography. Our results showed that saturated FA were predominant in all types of milk, particularly in cow's milk with more than 70%. Monounsaturated oleic acid was significantly higher in human milk (36%) than in infants formula (30%) and cow's milk (26%). Although polyunsaturated FA content of cow's milk was very low (3.6%) compared with infant formula (15%) and human milk (19%), cow's milk had the most desirable n6/n3 ratio, and content of n-3 precursor α-linolenic acid. Low content of n-3 FA may be due to a relatively low consumption of marine foods in Serbian population. Long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are important in infant development and maintenance of overall human health, were detected only in human milk. These results suggest that human milk is the most desirable food in infants' nutrition, but low content of n-3 FA indicates that supplementation of lactating women with n-3 FA is highly recommendable.

Keywords: human milk, infant formula, essential fatty acid, arachidonic acid, docosahexaenoic acid

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