Fat is an important component of human milk, delivering approx. 50-60% of the energy an infant requires. As well as this, the fat in human milk supplies the baby with valuable nutrients, such as essential fatty acids, fat-soluble vitamins and cholesterol. This fat has a specific structure, to ensure that it is properly absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract upon digestion 63Innis, S. M. (2011). Dietary triacylglycerol structure and its role in infant nutrition. In Advances in Nutrition. https://doi.org/10.3945/an.111.000448 124Ramírez, M., Amate, L., & Gil, A. (2001). Absorption and distribution of dietary fatty acids from different sources. Early Human Development. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0378-3782(01)00211-0. Specifically, long-chain saturated fatty acids (LCSFAs) like palmitic acid are primarily positioned in the sn-2 position on the glycerol backbone of triglycerides 54Hageman, J. H. J., Danielsen, M., Nieuwenhuizen, A. G., Feitsma, A. L., & Dalsgaard, T. K. (2019). Comparison of bovine milk fat and vegetable fat for infant formula: Implications for infant health. International Dairy Journal, 92, 37–49. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.idairyj.2019.01.005.
Human milk fat and bovine milk fat show many structural similarities, in both the profile and distribution of fatty acids over the sn-1, sn-2 and sn-3 positions 54Hageman, J. H. J., Danielsen, M., Nieuwenhuizen, A. G., Feitsma, A. L., & Dalsgaard, T. K. (2019). Comparison of bovine milk fat and vegetable fat for infant formula: Implications for infant health. International Dairy Journal, 92, 37–49. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.idairyj.2019.01.005. As a result, adding the right amount of dairy lipids to infant formula can help to: optimise fat composition and structure, support fat digestion and absorption 93Manios, Y., Karaglani, E., Thijs-Verhoeven, I., Vlachopapadopoulou, E., Papazoglou, A., Maragoudaki, E., Manikas, Z., Kampani, T.-M., Christaki, I., Vonk, M. M., Bos, R., & Parikh, P. (2020). Effect of milk fat-based infant formulae on stool fatty acid soaps and calcium excretion in healthy term infants: two double-blind randomised cross-over trials. BMC Nutrition, 6(1), 1–10. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40795-020-00365-4 and deliver energy and nutrients.