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Breast Milk VS Cow’s Milk: Essential Fatty Acids

During early childhood, your baby’s source of nutrition is primarily breast milk, and fats make up a significant part of the nutrition from breast milk. They are an essential nutrient during infancy and early childhood because they help with the building of nerve tissue, brain development, and supplying enough energy to support rapid growth.

Breast milk has an optimal amount of fat to meet your baby’s specific needs. 

Essential Fatty Acids

The fats in breast milk are also sources of vital nutrition for your little one, because they play a role in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, which are all important in tissue development, immunity and smooth bodily functioning.

The fats in breast milk also supply your little one with essential fatty acids. They are called so because they cannot be produced by the body and need to be consumed through food. These essential fats include linoleic acids, and PUFAs (Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids) like DHA and ARA, which play an important role in the rapid brain development that occurs in the first 2 years of life.

Breast Milk VS Cow’s Milk

Although breast milk and cow milk have similar amounts of fat, it is the type of fats in them that differs. During the early years, your baby mainly needs polyunsaturated fats to support brain and organ development. The fat in cow’s milk is primarily saturated fat, while breast milk contains more unsaturated fats.

Fat absorption in your baby’s body during digestion helps give them enough energy, as well as the essential fats and fat-soluble vitamins they need. Palmitic acid, a long chain saturated fatty acid, plays an important role in fat absorption. Breast milk and cow’s milk have similar quantities of this fat, but the differences in triglyceride structure are what make them different. The palmitic acid structure in breast milk allows for better fat absorption than that in cow’s milk, and thus, it is recommended to avoid feeding an infant cow’s milk, as it will not fulfil nutritional or energy needs.

Additionally, cow’s milk is difficult to digest for your little one as it has more casein protein than whey protein, which can strain the immature kidneys and digestive system of your baby. To add to this, cow’s milk reduces iron absorption by the body, does not provide an adequate amount of essential fatty acids like DHA, ARA, linoleic acid, which are essential nutrients for cognitive development during these early years.

Breast milk is thus the best option, which can ensure that your baby gets all the nutrition he needs in the right quantity and quality, in a tummy-friendly and safe form.

Disclaimer: All the information provided in the blog is for reference purposes only. Please do not consider this as a medical advice. Start Healthy Stay Healthy programme is for educational purposes only, in partnership with doctors. Always consult a doctor if you have any questions related to your own health or the health of your child.

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