Intensive research over the years have enabled children nutrition providers and parents alike to better understand the unique developmental needs of young children. As such, nutrients such as DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), Choline, Calcium, Iron, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D and Zinc are all now widely accepted as vital in promoting growth and development. Benefits in children nutrition in turn have increased through the incorporation of these vital nutrients in boosting development.
Following further studies, another element has emerged as yet another crucial component in supporting early childhood development: a bioactive constituent known as MFGM, or Milk Fat Globule Membrane.
MFGM is a complex system of membrane-bound proteins, lipids and enzymes that is secreted from mammary glands, such those of a lactating cow1.
During the lactation process in cows, fatty acids are produced and accumulated in the form of droplets. As these droplets move towards the surface of the lactating gland, they gradually separate into layers and are eventually enveloped by a plasma membrane as they are secreted2. The resultant globule has three distinct layers, which are collectively known as MFGM1.
MFGM – multiple benefits for your child
A particularly rich source of phospholipids (PLs), MFGM is made up of two main PL groups: Sphingomyelin (SM), and Gangliosides (GGs) that are especially important in brain development3,4. Together, Sphingomyelin and Gangliosides function to stabilise and “insulate” the brain’s nerve cells (a process called myelination), that can enable information to be transmitted at a quicker pace3,4,5. This in turn is believed to have an impact on learning and memory6, setting the stage for mental and emotional progress as children continue to grow.
For example, in one clinical study, children and young children were given chocolate milk formula enriched with MFGM over four months. Soon after, parents were required to assess the children’s emotions, attentiveness and behaviour. Results show that those who were given the MFGM-enriched formula fared better than their counterparts7.
The benefits of MFGM also extend to the promotion of gut health as it actively works against pathogens and boosts immunity amongst young children3.
In the same study involving young children fed with MFGM-enriched chocolate milk formula, findings showed that children whose diet was enriched with MFGM had significantly lower prevalence of feverish episodes7.
A naturally occurring element, MFGM is also shown to be safe and well-tolerated amongst children and young children7.
MFGM Formula Milk: Nutrition and stimulation
Certainly, there is still much to be discovered. Nonetheless, studies thus far have brought to light the nutritional and functional effects of MFGM-enriched sustenance; all of which may help young children achieve full growth potential.
Hence, with MFGM together with DHA, young children can now receive the nutrition they need to help support brain development towards a more balanced IQ and EQ8, setting the stage for mental and emotional development that will continue into adulthood.
Another important factor that can contribute to the development of the brain and central nervous system is the environment9 in which children are raised. Research showed that the growth and formation of the brain’s synapses (connections that facilitate information transfer) can largely depend on how children use their senses to explore and experience their surroundings9. If adequate stimulation is not received during the critical development stage, evidence suggest that the brain may have difficulty reaching full development potential later on in life9.
Thus, in addition to optimal nutrition, parents and carers can play their part by encouraging activities that stimulate the brain and physical growth such as reading, playing with educational toys and one-on-one quality time, among others10.
For more information about MFGM or to find out how you can include MFGM as part of your child’s nutritional intake, consult your paediatrician today.
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1Vanderghem, C. et al. Milk fat globule membrane and buttermilks: from composition to valorization. Biotechnologie, Agronomie, Société et Environnement/Biotechnology, Agronomy, Society and Environment, 2010, 14(3). popups.ulg.ac.be/1780-4507/index.php?id=5828
2Wu, CC. et al. Proteomics reveal a link between the endoplasmic reticulum and lipid secretory mechanisms in mammary epithelial cells. Electrophoresis, 2000, 21(16):3470-3482
3Contarini, G. and Povolo, M. Phospholipids in Milk Fat: Composition, Biological and Technological Significance, and Analytical Strategies. Int J Mol Sci, 2013, 14(2):2808-2831.
4Schengrund, CL. Gangliosides: glycosphingolipids essential for normal neural development and function. Trends in Biochemical Sciences, 2015, 40(7):397-406
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6Howland, J. and Wang YT. Chapter 8 Synaptic plasticity in learning and memory: Stress effects in the hippocampus. Progress in Brain Research, 2008, 169:145-158
7Veereman-Wauters, G. et al. Milk fat globule membrane (INPULSE) enriched formula milk decreases febrile episodes and may improve behavioral regulation in young children. Nutrition, 2012, 28(7-8):749-752
8Montgomery, P. et al. Low Blood Long Chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids in UK Children Are Associated with Poor Cognitive Performance and Behavior: A Cross-Sectional Analysis from the DOLAB Study. 2013. PLoS ONE 8(6), dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0066697
9Kolb B. et al 2011. Brain Plasticity and Behaviour in the Developing Brain. J Can Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 20(4): 265–276
10Abedin, S. Brain-Boosting Activities for Your Preschooler. www.webmd.com/parenting/features/preschooler-brain-boosting-activities#1