What are proteins?
Proteins are the building blocks of your child’s body. All her muscles and organs are mostly made up of proteins. They consist of tiny components called amino acids, and are essential for human life.
How much protein is in breast milk?
Breast milk contains the perfect mix and amount of high-quality protein for your growing child. In the first few weeks, when she needs a lot of protein for intense body growth, the concentration in your breast milk will be relatively high. It will naturally decrease as your child’s growth slows down in the later months and she doesn’t require the extra protein.
“Breast milk contains all the essential amino acids in the right balance and the appropriate amount and type of protein for your child’s healthy growth and development,” explains Dr. Evelyn Spivey-Krobath, PhD, Nutrition Scientist at Nestlé Nutrition. “High-quality proteins, like those provided by breast milk, can build a strong foundation for life. Protein content of breast milk is initially high (about 20 g/L) and progressively decreases to approximately 11 g/L by two to three months. In early breast milk, the whey fraction provides mainly proteins that play an important role in the development of the child’s immune system.”
What do proteins do?
Proteins help your child’s body work properly. They are needed to build her organs and tissues and keep them healthy. Proteins are also key components of your child’s muscles, enzymes, hormones, blood, skin, and hair.
5 reasons why your child needs the right amount of high-quality proteins
Scientific studies have shown that the proteins your child receives in early life have an influence on her health as she grows up. Here are some reasons why:
Arenz S, Ruckerl R, Koletzko B et al. Breast-feeding and childhood obesity—a systematic review. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 2004; 28(10):1247-56.
Breastfeeding handbook for physicians. 2nd ed. Elk Grove IL. 2014.
Lönnerdal B. Erdmann P, Thakkar SK et al. Longitudinal evolution of true protein, amino acids and bioactive proteins in breast milk: a developmental perspective. J Nutr Biochem 2017; 41:1-11.
Lönnerdal B. Human milk proteins: Key components for the biological activity of human milk. In: Pickering et al., eds. Protecting Infants through Human Milk. Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers 2004:11–25.
Lönnerdal B. Nutritional and physiologic significance of human milk proteins. Am J Clin Nutr 2003; 77(6):1537S–1543S.
Martin CR, Ling PR, Blackburn GL. Review of infant feeding: key features of breast milk and infant formula. Nutrients 2016; 8(5):279: doi: 10.3390/nu8050279.
Last revised: December, 2016
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