Research on goat formula

Growing, active children need about 30-40% of their energy from fats.   Fats are made up of individual fatty acids, which are a long chain of carbon molecules.   Three fatty acids are attached to a special sugar molecule to form a structure call triglyceride (see diagram).  When ingested, the triglycerides are broken down to release the fatty acids, which are then absorbed across the intestine.   After being absorbed by the body, the carbon molecules in the fatty acids are metabolised to provide energy. 

The absorption of long chain saturated fatty acids is determined by its position within the triglyceride molecule.   Long chain saturated fatty acids from the middle position are absorbed more effectively than fatty acids from the two outside positions.  Most of the long chain fatty acids in vegetable oils are in the two outside positions of the triglyceride.  High concentrations of long chain fatty acids from vegetable oils and have been associated with poor absorption of fats in infants.

To avoid this problem some formula manufacturers use a chemical and enzymatic process to alter the position of long chain saturated fatty within the triglycerides.   However, Dairy Goat Co-operative (NZ) Ltd uses an alternative, less complex, process that combines goat milk fat with vegetables oils.   Analysis completed in New Zealand confirms that this alternative, more natural approach, achieves a high proportion of long chain saturated fatty acids in this formula similar to chemical procedures. 

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One of the key criteria used by scientific experts and regulatory authorities to determine the nutritional quality of milk is its amino acid composition.  However, obtaining an accurate estimate of the amino acid content of foods is complicated because the protein must first be broken down into the individual amino acids.  The bonds holding together certain amino acids are difficult to break and some amino acids are not released completely during the process to liberate the amino acids from the proteins.  To compound the problem, other amino acids may be destroyed by the same process. 

Scientists at Massey University have modified the amino acid analysis method for milk to achieve a better recovery of the individual amino acids.  This method was applied to DGC’s goat milk formula.  The quantity of amino acids in the goat infant formula was equal to, or greater, than amino acid reference levels for infant formula.

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Scientists at Massey University have been investigating factors that can help to optimise bone mass in early life or reduce bone loss in later life.  Their research builds on scientific evidence that a higher bone mass in young adults can reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis later in life.  The risk of fracture decreases by about 40% for each 5% gain in peak bone mass.  While peak bone mass generally occurs in the age range of 20-30 years, 80% of peak bone mass has generally been achieved by the end of adolescence.

In one study at Massey University, goat milk increased bone mass in the growing animal and bone strength in older animals.  The researchers determined that nutrients from goat growing-up milk may help provide a higher peak bone mass and bone strength, reducing the risk of osteoporosis in later life. 

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Research by the same group revealed that casein in goat milk was important in calcium absorption.  There are two main protein types in milk: whey and casein.  Growing rats were fed diets containing varying amounts of casein from goat milk.  Calcium absorbed by rats fed the diet containing 8% casein was lower than in rats fed the diet containing 39% goat milk casein. 

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There have been two studies of atopic dermatitis and goat milk (Denisova et al, 2003; 2004).  Infants or children with sensitivities to cow milk proteins were treated for their atopic dermatitis with ointments in association with a change in their diet.  Symptoms of dermatitis were reduced in 59 of 67 infants (88%) aged 1-9 months and 33 of 41 children (80%) aged 12-36 months when eczema treatment started in conjunction with introduction of either a goat milk formula or milk free diet.  It took 1-3 weeks for a reduction in eczema symptoms.

The study directors noted that management of dermatitis in children with sensitivities to cow milk proteins should also consider a change of diet.   Changing from cow to goat milk formula benefited children by providing essential micronutrients (calcium, vitamin B2, folic acid, iron etc.), while the dermatitis was being treated with ointments. 

Denisova SN, Vakhrameeva SN, Ivanina EK, Konno VI (2003) Formula ‘Nanny’ in diet therapy of atopic dermatitis in infants.  Voprosy Detskoi Dermatolgii 1: 86-89

Denisova SN, Sentsova TB, Belitskaya M Yu, Korotkova TN, Balabolkin II, Yukhtina NV,  Vakhrameeva SN (2004) Using a Fortified Formula Based on Goat's Milk in the Treatment of Atopic Dermatitis in Young Children Voprosy Detskoi Dermatolgii 3: 42-46

New information about the composition of the stool microbiota when goat milk formula is used in infant nutrition was obtained from a clinical study in Australia.  The microflora of stools from 90 infants was measured after being fed goat formula, cow formula or breast milk for 2 months.  The goat formula was produced by Dairy Goat Co-operative (NZ) Ltd and was based on whole goat milk without added pre-biotics.  The cow formula was a whey based formula also without added pre-biotics.  The types of microflora in stools of infants fed goat whole milk based formula were similar to infants fed breastmilk, whereas the breast and whey based cow formula fed infants were more dissimilar (Tannock, Lawley et al. 2013).  The authors concluded that factors other than oligosaccharides might be present within the whole goat milk based formula to stimulate the growth of certain types of bacteria, including bifidobacteria. 

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