How does sn-2 palmitate affect your child’s ability to absorb key nutrients?

Date: Tuesday, Nov 20,2019

Palmitic acid is an important energy source for growing kids.1,2 When the palmitic acid is attached in the middle position of a fat molecule, it is called sn-2 palmitate. See illustration below.

sn-2 palmitate

When sn-2 palmitate containing milk is consumed, children tend to absorb fatty acids and calcium better than their counterparts who consume low sn-2 palmitate. This in turn, supports an optimal health and development. Numerous studies have demonstrated that children fed with formula milk with high sn-2 palmitate excreted less fatty acid soaps (insoluble substances) and calcium in their stools than those who received formula milk had low sn-2 palmitate content, suggesting that sn-2 palmitate may help in absorption of these particular nutrients. 3-6 This finding was also noted in Asian children.7

The more we understand the nature and science of milk, particularly the fat structure, the more we could appreciate that a minute difference, such as the level of sn-2 palmitate, could make a profound impact on absorption. It is therefore important to consider that small differences in the formula milk, such as the level of sn-2 palmitate, may have substantial effects on nutrient absorption.

Breast milk is the ideal source of nutrition. It contains all nutrients and protective substances essential for optimal growth. Interestingly, human milk is a rich source of sn-2 palmitate – isn’t it amazing how nature knows best?

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  • 1. Koletzko B, et al. Physiological aspects of human milk lipids and implications for infant feeding: a workshop report. Acta Paediatr. 2011;100(11):1405–1415.
  • 2. Miles EA, Calder PC. The influence of the position of palmitate in infant formula triacylglycerols on health outcomes. Nutr Res. 2017;44:1–8.
  • 3. Carnielli VP, Luijendijk IH, van Goudoever JB, et al. Feeding premature newborn infants palmitic acid in amounts and stereoisomeric position similar to that of human milk: effects on fat and mineral balance. Am J Clin Nutr. 1995;61(5):1037–1042.>
  • 4. Carnielli VP, Luijendijk IH, Van Goudoever JB, et al. Structural position and amount of palmitic acid in infant formulas: effects on fat, fatty acid, and mineral balance. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 1996;23(5):553–560.
  • 5. Kennedy K, Fewtrell MS, Morley R, et al. Double-blind, randomized trial of a synthetic triacylglycerol in formula-fed term infants: effects on stool biochemistry, stool characteristics, and bone mineralization. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999;70(5):920–927. .
  • 6. López-López A, Castellote-Bargalló AI, Campoy-Folgoso C, et al. The influence of dietary palmitic acid triacylglyceride position on the fatty acid, calcium and magnesium contents of at term newborn faeces. Early Hum Dev. 2001;65 Suppl:S83–S94.
  • 7. Bar-Yoseph F, Lifshitz Y, Cohen T, Malard P, Xu C. SN2-Palmitate Reduces Fatty Acid Excretion in Chinese Formula-fed Infants. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2016;62(2):341–347..

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