Goat Milk Based Infant Formula
Infant formula based on goat milk provides parents with a viable alternative to cow and soy based products. The characterising ingredient of the formula is the goat milk and other ingredients are added to ensure the product is nutritionally complete. Both cow's and goat's milk provide high quality protein, minerals and vitamins. Research has shown the growth of infants fed goat milk infant formula is comparable to infants fed cow milk infant formula. Some of the distinguishing characteristics of goat milk are discussed below.
Benefits of Goat Milk
Goat milk is a high quality protein source. Like cow milk, the protein fraction of goat milk consists of approximately 80% casein and 20% whey proteins. The casein fraction of the goat milk differs from cow milk as it has a higher level of β-casein and a lower level of as1-casein, making the casein profile of goat milk closer to breast milk.
The lower level of as1-casein produces a softer curd which makes the protein easier to digest. This may facilitate more efficient digestion of β-lactoglobulin, a whey protein commonly resistant to digestion. Resistance to digestion is a key determinant of a protein's allergen potential.
However, it is important to note that goats' milk protein is still a potential allergen, as is cows' milk protein, and that most children allergic to cow's milk will also be allergic to goat's milk.
Despite the difference in casein profile, the amino acid profile of goat milk is very similar to cow milk and therefore goat milk provides an equally good protein source in terms of amino acid content and availability. The only exception is the free amino acid taurine. Taurine plays an important role in infant nutrition and is naturally abundant in breast milk. Goat milk contains higher levels of taurine than cow milk; therefore goat milk infant formula requires less additional taurine than cow milk infant formula to achieve levels similar to that of breast milk.
Human milk is known to contain large amounts of non-protein nitrogen that have a range of biological functions for the infant. One such component is nucleotides. Nucleotides play a role in almost all biological process and are essential for optimal function of rapidly growing tissues like the immune system and gut. Unlike cow milk, goat milk naturally contains nucleotides and therefore goat milk formula products do not require added nucleotides to achieve similar levels to breast milk.