How does sn-2 palmitate improve stool patterns?

Date: Tuesday, Nov 20,2019

Constipation, hard stools and infrequent stools are common issues in formula-fed children.1 Researchers have found that this may be attributable – at least in part – to the fatty acid content in milk. The formation of calcium soaps reduces fatty acid and calcium absorption, and also contributes to stool hardening, constipation and discomfort.2

Fatty acids, such as palmitic acids, that are in sn-2 position – what we call sn-2 palmitate – are readily absorbed and do not create calcium soaps in the intestine.3 However, when fatty acids are attached to sn-1 and sn-3 positions, they will be cut from the fat molecule during digestion; these “free” fatty acids readily bind with calcium in the intestine, forming insoluble substances that are undigestible and are eventually excreted in the stools. Please see the illustration below.

How does sn-2 palmitate improve stool patterns thumb

sn-2 palmitate is abundantly found in human milk and research suggests that this may be part of the reasons why breastfed children generally have a good pooing pattern; sn-2 palmitate is readily absorbed and do not form insoluble calcium soaps that contribute to stool hardening.

Technology these days allows the manufacture of oil blends that are rich in sn-2 palmitate, which can then be added to standard formula milk. Studies have shown that milk was formulated with high levels of sn-2 palmitate could help to reduce the formation of hard stools.4,5 The presence of sn-2 palmitate improved stool consistency and pattern, promoting gut comfort and overall well-being of the studied subjects.


  • 1. Quinlan PT, Lockton S, Irwin J, Lucas AL. The relationship between stool hardness and stool composition in breast- and formula-fed infants. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 1995;20(1):81–90.
  • 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. Mu H, Høy CE. The digestion of dietary triacylglycerols. Prog Lipid Res. 2004;43(2):105–133.
  • 4. 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.
  • 5. Yao M, Lien EL, Capeding MR, et al. Effects of term infant formulas containing high sn-2 palmitate with and without oligofructose on stool composition, stool characteristics, and bifidogenicity. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2014;59(4):440–448.


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