Variation in milk fat globule size and composition A source of bioactives for human health.pdf (2.95 MB)

Variation in milk fat globule size and composition: A source of bioactives for human health

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-03, 21:11 authored by Caroline Thum, Nicole Roy, David Everett, Warren McNabb
Milk fat globules (MFGs) are secreted from the mammalian gland and are composed of a triacylglycerol core surrounded by a triple membrane structure, the milk fat globule membrane (MFGM). The MFGM contains complex lipids and proteins reported to have nutritional, immunological, neurological and digestive functions. Human and ruminant milk are shown to share a similar MFG structure but with different size, profile and abundance of protein and polar lipids. This review summarizes the reported data on human, bovine, caprine and ovine MFG composition and concentration of bioactive components in different MFG-size fractions. A comprehensive understanding of compositional variations between milk from different species and MFG size fractions may help promote various milk sources as targeted supplements to improve human development and health. MFG size and MFGM composition are species-specific and affected by lactation, diet and breed (or maternal origin). Purification and enrichment methods for some bioactive proteins and lipids present in the MFGM have yet to be established or are not scaled sufficiently to be used to supplement human diets. To overcome this problem, MFG size selection through fractionation or herd selection may provide a convenient way to pre-enrich the MFG fraction with specific protein and lipid components to fulfill human dietary and health requirements.


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2021 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor and Francis Group, LLC This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License ( 0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.


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Taylor & Francis Group

Journal title

Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition




Thum, C., Roy, N. C., Everett, D. W., & McNabb, W. C. (2021). Variation in milk fat globule size and composition: A source of bioactives for human health. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 63(1), 87-113.

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