Let’s goat! Benefits of goat milk in infant application

Prolactal Benefits of goat milk in infant application
Goat milk-based products are becoming increasingly popular as they are considered to be more similar to human milk compared to cow milk.

Breast milk is known to provide a wide range of health benefits to both the mother and the baby. The WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of an infant’s life and continued breastfeeding with complementary foods for up to 2 years of age. However, when breastfeeding is complicated or insufficient, it is important to have high-quality infant formulas available. Traditionally, infant formula is based on cow milk proteins. However, goat milk-based products are becoming increasingly popular as goat milk is considered to be more similar to human milk compared to cow milk.

Goat milk is naturally rich in important micronutrients, such as vitamins (A, B1, B2, B3) and minerals (calcium, phosphor, magnesium, zinc and iodine). Moreover, goat milk’s unique composition makes it extremely suitable for nutrition products for infants and growing children and people with specific dietary needs.

The 3 key differences of goat milk vs. milk of other mammalian species include:

  1. more similar to human milk than cow milk
  2. better digestibility
  3. beneficiary effects on gut health and immune system


Goat milk for easy digestion

Goat milk is quite different from cow milk when it comes to the individual fatty acids, fat composition, and protein profile.

Like human milk, goat milk forms softer curds in the stomach, which are easier to digest and are physiologically more apt for infant nutrition. Studies found that protein digestion of cow milk infant formula is delayed compared to goat milk infant formula and human milk. The protein digestibility of cow milk tends to be 5% lower compared to goat and human milk.

The dominant casein fraction in goat milk is β-casein. This is not only a wonderful source of protein, which is essential for growing bodies but also a good source of calcium – great for strong, healthy bones and teeth – as well as nutrients like iodine, riboflavin and vitamin B12.

Furthermore, it has been suggested that goat milk fat may have at least three significant contributions to human nutrition:

  1. goat milk fat may be more rapidly digested than cow milk fat because lipase attacks ester linkages of short- or medium-chain fatty acids more easily than those of longer chains
  2. these fatty acids have the unique metabolic ability to provide energy in growing children, and also exhibit beneficial effects on cholesterol metabolism
  3. they also have been therapeutically used in the case of childhood epilepsy and premature infant feeding


Goat milk may be less allergenic

Allergy to cow milk in infants and young children affects 2 to 3% of children. Although goat milk is similar to cow milk, evidence suggests that it is less allergenic than cow milk, although the precise incidence of goat milk allergy is unknown.

One factor contributing to the differences in allergenicity of goat and cow milk is the different profiles of caseins. Cow and goat milk both contain the 4 main casein classes: αS1-CN, αs2-CN, β-CN, and κ-CN, but the level of αS1-CN in goat milk may range from high (7 g/L), to medium (3.2 g/L), low (1.2 g/L), or absent, depending on the polymorphism of the gene. Studies suggest that goat milk with low levels of αS1-CN may reduce the allergenicity of milk. Cows only have high levels (12 g/L) of this casein.


Goat milk for gut health and a strong immune system

Formulas based on goat milk have 4-5 times higher naturally occurring levels of nucleotides, the building blocks of DNA. Nucleotides from dietary sources have been suggested to have important physiological roles in gastrointestinal development and the immune function of infants.

Human milk contains an abundant supply and diverse array of oligosaccharides that are known to impart significant health benefits to the nursing infant including the establishment and maintenance of healthy gut microflora, immune development and protection against gastrointestinal infections. Oligosaccharides levels in goat milk are clearly lower than in human milk but higher than in other domesticated dairy animals. Oligosaccharides naturally present in goat milk are structurally similar to those found in human milk.

Did you know? Quality is the most important factor when selecting our goat milk suppliers. We source the highest-quality goat milk to bring you milk derivatives from the Alpine region. Prolactal offers many goat products and several of organic quality. Get in touch now and learn more about the nutritional benefits of goat dairy and our goat dairy ingredient portfolio.



Sources: Roy, D., Ye, A., Moughan, P. J., & Singh, H. Composition, Structure, and Digestive Dynamics of Milk From Different Species-A Review. Frontiers in nutrition 2020, 7, 577759, Young W. Park and George F.W. Haenlein 2017. Therapeutic, Hypo-Allergenic and Bioactive Potentials of Goat Milk, and Manifestations of Food Allergy. Handbook of Milk of Non-Bovine Mammals (pp.151-179), JohnWiley & Sons Ltd.,  Sander S. van Leeuwen, Evelien M. te Poele, Anastasia Chrysovalantou Chatziioannou, et al. Goat Milk Oligosaccharides: Their Diversity, Quantity, and Functional Properties in Comparison to Human Milk Oligosaccharides. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2020 68 (47), 13469-13485, European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). 2014. Scientific opinion on the essential composition of infant and follow-on formulae. EFSA Journal;12(7)., Maathuis, A., Havenaar, R., He T. et al. Protein Digestion and Quality of Goat and Cow Milk Infant Formula and Human Milk Under Simulated Infant Conditions. Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition: December 2017 – Volume 65 – Issue 6 – p 661-666, University of Granada. Goat milk can be considered as functional food, Spanish researchers find. ScienceDaily, 19 May 2011. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110518092146.htm (accessed July 4, 2022)., A.J. Hodgkinson, N.A. McDonald, L.J. Kivits, D.R. Hurford, S. Fahey, C. Prosser, 2012. Allergic responses induced by goat milk αS1-casein in a murine model of gastrointestinal atopy, Journal of Dairy Science, Volume 95, Issue 1, 83-90.

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