How innovative advances in children nutrition enhance the nutritional value of milk

Formula milk for child’s growth and development

The early years of a child’s life is a time of rapid physical, mental, social and emotional growth. During this crucial period, good nutrition plays an important role in the optimal growth and development of children and in supporting their health.1 Brain development is most rapid in early childhood and is greatly influenced by nutrition and a child’s sensory experience of the outside world.

Eating healthy and proper meals daily has been associated with improved cognitive function (especially memory) and reduced school absenteeism.2,3 However, ensuring that children consume nutritious meals can be challenging for many mothers who are working or who have to juggle raising a family with other commitments. A convenient and nutrient-dense food will enable mothers to provide their children with nutritious meals on a regular basis.

Malaysian Dietary Guidelines for Children and Adolescents 20134

  1. Consume 2-3 servings of milk or milk products a day

  2. Use milk and milk products creatively

Milk as a good source of nutrition

Milk and milk products make an important contribution to children’s diets. Milk is a nutrient-dense food and is a good source of a wide range of nutrients.4 It provides energy and high quality protein.5 Milk also makes a significant contribution towards the body’s requirement for important micronutrients such as calcium, magnesium, selenium, riboflavin, vitamin B12 and pantothenic acid.5

Considering the nutritional value of milk, the Malaysian Dietary Guidelines for Children and Adolescents 20134 recommends that children consume 2-3 servings of milk or milk products a day. This can be achieved by serving milk with breakfast, an afternoon snack and supper. To encourage this, the guidelines recommend that milk and milk products should be used or served creatively.



Milk formula development over the years

Formula milk research

As an important source of nutrition, there have been many innovations in the development of milk formula. One example of such innovation is the addition of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Following many years of research into the safety and benefits of these LCPUFAs to cognitive development, DHA is now widely recognized to be important in the diets of young children.6,7 The most recent innovation in children nutrition is the addition of milk fat globule membrane (MFGM) to milk formula.

What is MFGM?

What does MFGM stand for?

Milk Fat Globule Membrane

Milk fat is secreted as droplets and called milk fat globules (MFG). The globule is enveloped by portions of cell membrane that become the milk fat globule and membrane (MFGM).8 MFGM is a complex mixture of polar lipids and membrane proteins. The components of MFGM can be found in the brain and may therefore play a role in the functioning of the brain.9 In addition, a study of preschool children who consumed MFGM-enriched milk formula for 4 months found that these children were rated by their parents to have better behavioral and emotional regulation. They were also reported to have less episodes of fever compared to those fed the standard formula.10

Why is the addition of MFGM into milk important?

During commercial dairy processing, some amount of the components of MFGM is lost. However, recent advances in technology have enabled the separation of MFGM from the fat globule, allowing bovine MFGM to be added in concentrated form.8,11 This has paved the way for MFGM components to be added to milk formulas, making this the next major step in milk formula development after DHA.

Good nutrition is important for children and milk is recognized as an important source of nutrition for children. Over the years, there have been continuous innovations in the development of milk formulas. The latest innovation in this field is the addition of MFGM to milk formulas.


  1. United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Improving child nutrition: The achievable imperative for global progress. 2013:6.
  2. Taras HL. Nutrition and student performance at school. J Sch Health 2005;75:199–213.
  3. Rampersaud GC, Pereira MA, Girard BL, et al. Breakfast habits, nutritional status, body weight, and academic performance in children and adolescents. J Am Diet Assoc 2005;105:743–760.
  4. National Coordinating Committee on Food and Nutrition. Malaysian Dietary Guidelines for Children and Adolescents 2013. Available at: Accessed on 14 March 2017.
  5. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Milk and dairy products in human nutrition. 2013.
  6. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Fats and fatty acids in human nutrition: report of an expert consultation. Rome. FAO 2010:1-189.
  7. Kuratko, CN et al. The relationship of Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) with learning and behavior in healthy children: A review. Nutrients. 2013. 5(7):2777-2810
  8. El-Loly MM. Composition, properties and nutritional aspects of milk fat globule membrane– a review. Pol J Food Nutr Sci 2011;61(1):7-32.
  9. Svennerholm L et al. Distribution and fatty acid composition of phosphoglycerides in normal human brain. Journal of Lipid Research. 1968;9:570-579.
  10. Veereman-Wauters G, Staelens S, Rombaut R, et al. Milk fat globule membrane (INPULSE) enriched formula milk decreases febrile episodes and may improve behavioral regulation in young children. Nutrition 2012;28:749-752.
  11. Le TT, Cabaltica AD and Bui VM. Membrane separations in dairy processing. Journal of Food Research and Technology. 2014;2(1):1-14 01/05P24/308