Differences in
composition between human and bovine milk.

According to the Oxford
Dictionary (2012), the definition of milk is “An opaque white fluid rich in fat
and protein, secreted by female mammals for the nourishment of their young.”
The composition of mammal’s milk has developed to suit their young, and offer
them the best chance at survival. In today’s society, many people would simply
consider milk as milk, but the composition of milk is completely dependent on
the animal it comes from. Breast milk (from humans) is made up of different
components compared to cow’s milk, or goat’s milk. For the purpose of this
assignment I will be focusing on the differences in composition between human
and bovine milk. Bovine milk has been an essential part of the human diet for
as long back as humans have populated the earth. Human milk is suited uniquely
to human infants and its benefits have been a major talking point in the last
few decades. Milk is an essential part of the diet of any human regardless of
age as it contains nutrients that are essential for the development of many
parts of the body such as the bones, brain, eye etc. The composition of any
mammal’s milk can vary depending on many factors such as age, health,
nourishment etc. In general, milk is made up of water, carbohydrates, proteins,
fats, minerals, vitamins and some enzymes. The amounts and types of these
components available in human or bovine milk vary depending on the needs of the
offspring. Throughout the course of this essay, I will describe in detail the
differences in composition between human and bovine milk, and will explain the
process of how baby formula is made and the benefits (if any) of feeding your
child breast milk as opposed to bovine milk or infant formula. 

Data obtained from www.viva.org.uk/white-lies/comparison-between-human-milk-and-cows-milk

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            From the above table, it is clear
to see that the protein content of whole cow’s milk is approximately twice that
of human milk (per 100g). Bovine milk protein has a high biological value and
this then shows it contains many of the essential amino acids, as well as a
wide variety of proteins that aid in absorption, antimicrobial proteins,
hormones enzymes etc. (Haug et al 2007). Whereas the proteins in breast milk
can be divided into two broad categories (whey and casein), which can then be
subdivided into an array of specific proteins and polypeptides. The main
proteins found in breast milk are casein, ?-lactalbumin, lactoferrin, secretory
immunoglobulin IgA, lysozyme, and serum albumin (Ballard and Morrow, 2013). Protein levels in human breast
milk decrease slightly approximately four to six weeks after giving birth. In
bovine milk, caseins represent about 80% of the milk protein content, with the
other 20% made up of whey proteins and non-protein nitrogen. Animal proteins
are an important addition to the human diet but there are health implications
to over-consumption of these products such as cardiovascular disease. “High
protein diets have also been suggested to have negative effects on blood lipid
profiles and blood pressure, causing an increased risk for cardiovascular
disease”. (Hoffman and 
Falvo, 2004). According
to this journal, this is mainly due to the higher fat intakes, but has not yet
been proven by a scientific study.  One
of the major differences between human and bovine milk, however, is the
presence of the amino acid taurine. Taurine is found in high quantities in
breast milk and plays a key role in the central nervous system, as it aids in progression
to cytoprotection. If someone has a taurine deficiency, it highly increases
their risk of cardiomyopathy, dysfunction of the renal, stunt in development,
and can have a very bad impact on retinal neurons. (Ripps and Shen 2012). As taurine has so many health
benefits, this is one of the key factors in many doctors recommending breast
milk over bovine milk as it is found in much higher quantities in breast milk
than the other and would be passed from mother to baby. From reading the above
article it was also clear that taurine plays a key role in the function of the
eye as analysis of ocular tissue extracts from a sample of rat eyes showed that
taurine was found to be the most plentiful amino acid in the retina, vitreous,
lens, cornea, iris, and ciliary body (Ripps and Shen 2012). This article shows that there is no
question that taurine is an essential amino acid and its health benefits are
undoubted even though the scientific evidence is not readily available as it
has not been studied in great detail.

         The next component of milk I will discuss
is fat. Fat in milk is dispersed in globules. Fat globules found in milk are covered
by a biological membrane that is due to how fat globules secrete from
epithelial cells in the mammary gland (Lopez et al., 2008). From figure 2.0,
the fat content of human and bovine milk is relatively similar, but slightly
higher in human milk. The fat in milk is a critical component in the human diet
in moderation. Saturated fat content is higher in bovine milk (>60%) than in
human milk (<40%). Human milk has a cholesterol content 20% higher than that of bovine milk and the unsaturated fatty acid C18:2 has a concentration 7 times higher in human milk than in bovine milk (Yao et al 2015). Fat globules in breast milk consist of three layers, the external layer (made up of glycoproteins), the intermediate layer and the internal layer. Bovine milk differs from this as they do not contain glycoproteins. Instead their outer layer consists of proteins and phospholipids. (Gantner et al 2015). According to Haug et al research paper (2007) most of the fats in bovine milk (more than 50%) are saturated fatty acids. For example butyric acid has been widely studied and is thought to play a key role in cancer prevention as well as known to aid in the function of genes. This paper also states that the fatty acid lauric acid has antibacterial and antiviral qualities, and has been shown to kill the bacteria Helicobacter pylori, which is known to cause ulcers in the stomach and small intestine. At the same time bovine milk also contains saturated acids that have ill effects on health. If we take lauric acid, myristic acid and palmitic acid, they contain low-density lipoprotein (LDL)- and high-density lipoprotein- (HDL) cholesterol-increasing effects which would increase our chances of coronary heart disease, strokes and heart attacks. (Haug et al 2007). Bovine milk also contains unsaturated fatty acids in smaller amounts with oleic acid being the most abundant one. Polyunsaturated fatty acids such as omega-6 and omega-3 are found in bovine milk. Bovine milk and meat products are one of the main sources of the cis9 trans 11 isomer of linoleic acid which has been shown to have anti-carcinogenic effects particularly in colorectal cancer. On the other hand, from having read Ballard and Morrow's paper (2012), the fat in human milk contains high concentrations of palmitic and oleic acids. Palmitic acid in small concentrations displays both antioxidant and anti-atherosclerotic properties and oleic acids have many health benefits such as preventing type 2 diabetes, producing myelin for brain function, reducing blood pressure and prevent major damage in cells. (http://mooscience.com/Oleic-Acid.html). The fat concentration in mother's milk is affected by the time of day that the child is fed at and the diet of the mother. Human milk also contains long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids such as omega-3 and omega-6 which have many known health benefits such as brain health, reduction of cholesterol but more crucially, are very important to the development of infants.        The final macronutrient I will discuss are carbohydrates. The differences in carbohydrate concentration in human and bovine milk are quite elaborated. Qian et al research paper (2016) describes in detail many of the common sugars found in milk and compares their concentration in human , bovine, and formula milk. It details that lactose concentration (which is milks main energy supplier) stayed constant between all three milks. Fructose concentration (which acts as a sweetener in milk) was highest in formula milk compared to the others, and was a staggering 29.63 times higher in formula milk than in human milk. Fucose is highest in human milk, but the affluence of arabinose, mannose, glucosamine and acetylglucosamine was found to be lowest in breast milk compared to bovine milk or formula milk. Formula milk also contained high traces of the sugars maltose and threitol.       Another important constituent of milk is its micronutrients, or vitamins and minerals. Bovine milk contains a host of vitamins and minerals, including calcium, magnesium, zinc, selenium, vitamin A, vitamin B12, vitamin E, and riboflavin (Haug et al 2007). It is also said to contain the fat soluble vitamins D and K, which is in contrast to breast milk. Human milk also contains a variety of vitamins and minerals. Many of the minerals found in bovine milk are found in human milk. Human milk contains an adequate amount of vitamins for the growth and development of infants such as vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, B12 and D. (Ballard and Marrow 2013). The main vitamins that are not supplied in adequate amounts to the infant from breast milk are vitamins D and K. Both of these vitamins are essential for the development of the infant and deficiencies in them can cause severe harm to the baby, so many mothers are urged to take supplements while pregnant. Lack of vitamin D can cause bone abnormalities such as rickets. Vitamin K is essential for the clotting of blood and often babies are born with extremely low levels of vitamin K, and are at extreme risk of haemorrhages. Normally after birth the mother is recommended to give the baby vitamin K supplements (Martin et al 2016).         Both bovine milk (particularly colostrum) and human milk contain many defence organisms that need to be passed from mother to infant at birth, so the infant has the best chance at survival. A study carried out by Hettinga et al (2011). In this paper, the team studied 268 human milk proteins and 269 bovine milk proteins, and the aim was to determine the differences in host defence proteomes. In total 147 proteins were common to both human and bovine milk. Data obtained from Hettinga et al (2011). From observing the above results of the experiment, it is clear that human and bovine milk differ slightly in terms of the proteins passed from mother to infants, particularly in enzymes and transport proteins. This study was very interesting in my opinion because enzymes and hormones in cow's milk has been discussed in the media frequently in recent years, for example a recent paper submitted by Hassan Malekinejad and Aysa Rezabakhsh in the Iranian Journal of  Public Health (2015) discusses the impact of hormones such as insulin-like  growth factor 1 (IGF-1) and oestrogen on the public health and its links to breast endometrial and prostate cancers. After carrying out their experiment they determined that steroid hormones which were found to be present in some dairy products in trace amounts could be linked to various cancers caused in humans. This is a worrying result, especially for dairy farmers whose livelihood is dependent on dairy products and their consumption. However, after reading another article published in Science Driven Nutrition by Morten Elsoe (2016), it disagreed with Hassan Malekinejad and Aysa Rezabakhsh's theory entirely .Morten Elsoe claims the connection between these hormones and the cancers they "cause" is actually quite small. He lists six facts about the hormones, including that bovine growth hormone is not actually active in the human body, and that there is as a much IGF-1 in our own saliva as is present in milk. It also tells us that not only does oestrogen not give you cancer, but neither does milk as a whole. He states that to be able to definitively state that milk increases our chances of cancer it would have to be shown that milk consumption was frequently associated with a shown increased risk of cancer and that the amount of milk consumed was a factor in this. As of yet this is not the case. Speculation still surrounds milk products and their correlation with cancers, but from having researched the papers the likelihood that these are facts and not just speculation are slim.        Having explained the differences in composition between human and bovine milk, I will now explain the process of making infant formula. Infant formula in the USA alone is manufactured by about 40-50 companies, but many of the processes and ingredients that go into making the formula are very similar. There are two basic process types for making infant formula, a dry blending process and a wet mixing-spray drying process. (https://www.fda.gov/ohrms/dockets/ac/03/briefing/3939b1_tab4b.htm).  Dry blending involves the receipt of the components used to make the formula from other suppliers in a dry powdered form. The powders are then mixed together in a ratio to ensure the correct amount of micro and macronutrients are available to the infant.  Once the ingredients for the formula are received they are rigorously tested, as the products are very susceptible to bacteria contamination due to the fact that bacteria may be present in low numbers in the foodstuff and since so much product is used (1,000 to 5,000 lbs per mixture) it is not possible to test all of the product individually. Manufacturers try to keep close ties with the suppliers of their product to ensure standard operating procedures are followed and bacterial contamination does not occur. The dry product is then blended in large scale blenders to ensure a uniform mixture is obtained. The product is then moved through a large sifter to remove large particles and packaged accordingly. There is usually a final check for contamination after the product is packaged. Dry blending has many benefits including it is relatively cheaper and more energy efficient. The process line is also dry at all times so there is less chance of the product being contaminated while moving along the line as bacteria need water to survive. However the quality of the formula is largely dependent on the quality of the dry foodstuff going into it so the manufacturers need to keep in close contact with their suppliers to ensure they are carrying out good manufacturing procedures. In the wet blending-spray dry process, ingredients are "blended together, homogenized, pasteurized and spray dried which produces a powdered formula.  This process is less dependent on ingredients as most bacteria are killed in the process above and it also ensures uniform distribution of the product. The ingredients are stored and tested before use. Approximately 1,000 to 5,000 pounds of the ingredients are mixed with water and passed to a heat exchanger for pasteurisation. The liquid is then homogenised and passed through a dryer to form a powder. The product is the sieved and packaged. Before distribution the powder is tested once again. The disadvantages of this method are that the equipment is expensive, and there is a greater risk of contamination on the process line as water is involved. Normally companies who use this method keep their wet and dry stages separated to try and ensure as little exposure to water as is necessary. (https://www.fda.gov/ohrms/dockets/ac/03/briefing/3939b1_tab4b.htm).  All infant formula must ensure appropriate amounts of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals to allow the infant to develop properly by law. According to Camilia R. Martin et al research paper on infant nutrition (2016), cow's milk is the basis for most infant formulas but it contains an excess of most components which could be harmful to the baby, so it must be skimmed and diluted to better suits the needs if the needs of the infant. However it has been shown that high protein concentration in infant formulas is shown to cause excess fat gain in infants and leads to a 20% greater chance of developing obesity in later life. In conclusion this article states that breast milk has been found to be the best nutrition for growth and development of the infant. It is also rich in antibodies which provide the first source of adaptive immunity in a new-born baby's intestinal tract. Breastfeeding is an important public health strategy as it improves infant and child morbidity and mortality, decreases the risk of childhood obesity, improves maternal morbidity, and in turn helps to control health care costs on both the state and the family. Not only does breast milk benefit the healthy baby more, premature babies also benefit more from breast milk as stated in this article, as it has a protective effect on them. Interestingly in the Republic of Ireland, rates of breastfeeding infants have increased from 48.9% in 2006 to 58.0% in 2016 (October 2017 © The Institute of Public Health in Ireland, 2017. Prepared by: Dr Joanna Purdy et al).        In conclusion, from having ready all the above articles, I think that although many mothers opt to bottle feed their infants, it is widely agreed that breast milk is best. From having discussed earlier the differences in composition between human and bovine milk, and how infant formula is made from bovine milk, it does show that breast milk is made and has been adapted to suit the growing needs of a new-born infant. Even though breast milk is better for the new born infant mothers have to be careful also as diet throughout the pregnancy can seriously affect the composition of their breast milk and thus have an impact on the child when (s)he is born. As stated above the mother must also be weary of the fact that breast milk does lack some vitamins (vitamin B and K), and that these need to be supplemented to ensure the baby has the best chance at survival. This project has also showed me that although there are a lot of speculations in the media now that milk is something we shouldn't drink for various reasons, such as the fact it may be "carcinogenic", I strongly believe that milk is a crucial factor for the development and maintenance of any person regardless of age. References. 1.      https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/milk 2.      www.viva.org.uk/white-lies/comparison-between-human-milk-and-cows-milk 3.      Anna Haug, Arne T Høstmark, Bovine Milk In Human Nutrition – A Review. Odd M Harstad Lipids Health Dis. 2007; 4.      Olivia Ballard, Ardythe L Morrow Human Milk Composition: Nutrients and Bioactive Factors Pediatr Clin North Am. 2013 Feb; 60(1): 49–74. 5.      Jay R. Hoffman and Michael J. Falvo. Protein – Which Is Best.  J Sports Sci Med. 2004Sep; 3(3): 118–130. 6.      Harris Ripps and Wen Shen. Review: Taurine: A "very essential" amino acid. Mol Vis. 2012; 18: 2673–2686. 7.      YunpingYaoa GuozhongZhaoa JingyingXiangb XiaoqiangZoua QingzheJina XingguoWanga  Lipid composition and structural characteristics of bovine, caprine and human milk fat globules https://doi.org/10.1016/j.idairyj.2015.12.013 8.       Lopez, C., Briard-Bion, V., Menard, O., Rousseau, F., Pradel, P., Besle, J.M. (2008): Phospholipid, sphingolipid, and fatty acid compositions of the milk fat globule membrane are modified by diet, Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 56, 5226-5236. doi: 10.1021/jf7036104 9.      Vesna Gantner, Pero Miji?, Mirjana Baban, Zoran Škrti?, Alka Turalija The overall and fat composition of milk of various species doi: 10.15567/mljekarstvo.2015.0401. University of Josipa Jurja Strossmayera in Osijek, Faculty of Agriculture, Kralja Petra Sva?i?a 1d, 31000 Osijek, Croatia 10.   http://mooscience.com/Oleic-Acid.html 11.  Metabolomic Approaches to Explore Chemical Diversity of Human Breast-Milk, Formula Milk and Bovine Milk 12.  Metabolic Approaches To Explore Chemical Diversity Of Human-Breast Milk, Formula Milk And Bovine Milk. Qian, Linxi; Zhao, Aihua; Zhang, Yinan; Chen, Tianlu; Zeisel, Steven H Author Information View Profile; et al. International Journal of Molecular Sciences; Basel Vol. 17, Iss. 12, (2016): n/a. 13.  The Host Defence Proteome Of Human And Bovine Milk. Kasper Hettinga, Hein van Valenberg, Sacco de Vries, Sjef Boeren, Toon van Hooijdonk, Johan van Arendonk, Jacques Vervoort. Published April 27 2011. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0019433 14.  . Iran J Public Health. 2015 Jun; 44(6): 742–758. PMCID: PMC4524299. Hormones in Dairy Foods and Their Impact on Public Health - A Narrative Review Article. Hassan MALEKINEJAD1,2 and Aysa REZABAKHSH. 15.  The Truth About Hormones In Milk. Posted on September 15, 2016 by Brad Dieter, PhD. By Morten Elsoe. 16.  Nutrients. 2016 May; 8(5): 279. Published online 2016 May 11. doi:  10.3390/nu8050279. PMCID: PMC4882692. Review of Infant Feeding: Key Features of Breast Milk and Infant Formula. Camilia R. Martin,1 Pei-Ra Ling,2 and George L. Blackburn2, 17.  https://www.fda.gov/ohrms/dockets/ac/03/briefing/3939b1_tab4b.htm 18.  Review of Infant Feeding: Key Features of Breast Milk and Infant Formula 19.  Camilia R. Martin 1, Pei-Ra Ling 2 and George L. Blackburn. Review Of Infant Feeding: Key Features Of Breast Milk And Infant Formula. Nutrients 2016, 8(5), 279; doi:10.3390/nu8050279 20.  J Acad Nutr Diet. 2015 Mar;115(3):444-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2014.12.014. Position of the academy of nutrition and dietetics: promoting and supporting breastfeeding. Lessen R1, Kavanagh K. 21.  Published by The Institute of Public Health in Ireland. October 2017 © The Institute of Public Health in Ireland, 2017. Prepared by: Dr Joanna Purdy, Dr Helen McAvoy and Dr Noëlle Cotter.

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