3

votes

Medium-chain fatty-acids and milk

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created January 24, 2011 at 10:59 AM

If medium-chain fatty-acids are so good for us, how come human milk is mostly made of long-chain fatty-acids? Is there a difference between children and adults in terms of nutritional needs?

It is my understanding that medium-chain fatty-acids (especially abundant in coconut oil) are easily digested and utilized as a source of energy, and thus considered a great choice in general, but especially for people with digestive, metabolic, and neurological problems.

Now, I have found this quote "The milk fats of man, dog, and guinea pig, [are] largely made up of long-chain fatty acids... The milk fats of cow, sheep, and goat, [are] rich in short-chain acids... Horse milk, ... contains large amounts of medium-chain fatty acids..." (Source: http://www.jlr.org/content/8/5/473.abstract)

Short- and medium-chain fatty acids are similarly digested: "[s]hort-chain fatty acids, just as medium-chain fatty acids, are taken up directly to the portal vein during lipid digestion, in contrast to long-chain fatty acids, which are packed into chylomicrons and enter lymphatic capillaries and enter the blood first at the subclavian vein." (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Short-chain_fatty_acid)

How is it possbile that human milk has a less-than-ideal fat composition when compared to that of horse/cow/goat? Or is the hype around medium-chain fatty-acids exaggerated? Or am I getting something wrong?

F31d10b54b31428e189d9b771bf7b1d1

(1439)

on June 21, 2012
at 09:24 PM

gn, it seems to me that if the body were trying to get rid of MCTs, they would not be shunted to the brain so quickly.

1f8384be58052b6b96f476e475abdc74

(2231)

on May 27, 2011
at 05:58 PM

thats interesting point...

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on March 01, 2011
at 09:21 PM

cats and dogs drink milk for the same reason they eat gluten-laden kibbles and bits. Because we give it to them, we force it!

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on March 01, 2011
at 06:52 PM

I think Dr. Harris is probably just another milk addict so he finds ways to say milk is okay... No animal drinks the milk of other animals. I can understand butter, ghee being more paleo and probably okay...but milk!?!

5672b2d190891342389e764cc4056ca9

(1304)

on February 02, 2011
at 12:55 AM

In his recent blog, Dr. Harris reaches the opposite conclusion on the subject: he writes that human milk, similarly to coconut, is actually a good source of MCT. The best source of LCT, in his opinion, is ruminants' milk. And this would make more sense to me than what I personally found on the subject. But then, ironically, Dr. Harris suggests to consume more LC fatty acid (as in cow's milk) then MC fatty acid (as in human milk and coconut). http://www.paleonu.com/panu-weblog/2011/1/29/there-is-no-such-thing-as-a-macronutrient-part-i-fats.html

  • 5672b2d190891342389e764cc4056ca9

    asked by

    (1304)
  • Views
    5.8K
  • Last Activity
    1429D AGO
Frontpage book

Get FREE instant access to our Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!

8 Answers

4
9e20abb05f3f6e3cc4bb107f8980aecd

on May 27, 2011
at 03:43 PM

Human milk does have short- and medium-chain fatty acids. They represent almost 10% of total calories. That corresponds to about 2 tbsp/day coconut oil for an adult.

That's approximately what you would ingest if you use coconut milk or oil for all your cooking and some of your sauces.

No one would say you should get most of your calories from these fats. But a few tablespoons a day is probably healthful.

Higher doses make a diet ketogenic which can have therapeutic value in certain diseases, especially neurological disorders.

Like all macronutrients, how "good for us" something is depends on the dose. There are diminishing returns as quantity increases.

2
56384dffe35e32ef7e019db062e18ad9

(20)

on May 26, 2011
at 07:40 PM

Sheep, cows, horses, and goats are born and need to be able to stand and move quickly. Dogs, guinea pigs, and human babies are born quite immobile. Evolution most likely determined the fatty acid profile of the milk of migrating herd animals.

2
5e36f73c3f95eb4ea13a009f4936449f

(8280)

on February 01, 2011
at 06:12 PM

If humans burn up MCT easily, what makes you think that enough would make it to the milk to support the baby?

0
909d9ca1c29e20c2a05ee99e041c97a2

on January 04, 2013
at 05:10 PM

Having been investigating the benefits (or otherwise) of medium chain fats and in particular coconut oil you might find these links interesting.

Man made MCT's are used to treat certain illnesses, and one trial showed benefits of MCT's in a controlled study.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15674308

http://endo.endojournals.org/content/146/5/2255.full

http://www.lipidworld.com/content/2/1/10

0
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 27, 2011
at 03:16 AM

not trying to say something definitive, but just wondering:

you posit that "medium-chain fatty-acids are so good for us" - is that really so? does the fact that they "are taken up directly to the portal vein during lipid digestion" signifies that they are necessarily "good" for us?

what if the body just desperately tries to get rid itself of the stuff as soon as possible?

1f8384be58052b6b96f476e475abdc74

(2231)

on May 27, 2011
at 05:58 PM

thats interesting point...

F31d10b54b31428e189d9b771bf7b1d1

(1439)

on June 21, 2012
at 09:24 PM

gn, it seems to me that if the body were trying to get rid of MCTs, they would not be shunted to the brain so quickly.

0
1bc18852894dad9d6dddfb3dfed49ab3

(341)

on March 01, 2011
at 09:15 PM

"No animal drinks the milk of other animals."

yes they do, dogs and cats. wild animals do not drink milk because it is not available to them. when given choice it is possible that many other carnivores and omnivores would not object consuming milk.

and rats do not mind cow milk as well.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on March 01, 2011
at 09:21 PM

cats and dogs drink milk for the same reason they eat gluten-laden kibbles and bits. Because we give it to them, we force it!

0
91487fa364848b52aad94002266aebc9

(76)

on February 01, 2011
at 05:16 PM

The text in comment #1 above is from Dr. Harris' blog: www.paleonu.com.

5672b2d190891342389e764cc4056ca9

(1304)

on February 02, 2011
at 12:55 AM

In his recent blog, Dr. Harris reaches the opposite conclusion on the subject: he writes that human milk, similarly to coconut, is actually a good source of MCT. The best source of LCT, in his opinion, is ruminants' milk. And this would make more sense to me than what I personally found on the subject. But then, ironically, Dr. Harris suggests to consume more LC fatty acid (as in cow's milk) then MC fatty acid (as in human milk and coconut). http://www.paleonu.com/panu-weblog/2011/1/29/there-is-no-such-thing-as-a-macronutrient-part-i-fats.html

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on March 01, 2011
at 06:52 PM

I think Dr. Harris is probably just another milk addict so he finds ways to say milk is okay... No animal drinks the milk of other animals. I can understand butter, ghee being more paleo and probably okay...but milk!?!

0
5edbf85deaf83e13b176df023abb154d

on February 01, 2011
at 01:36 PM

A New fat Taxonomy

LCSFA - long chain saturated fatty acids - best

Monunsaturates - Oleic acid from animal fats and olive oil - good

n-6 PUFA - Technically essential but in huge excess due to technology - bad

n-3 PUFA - necessary to balance excess n-6 but otherwise bad - contextual

MCT - Medium chain saturated fats - good in reasonable amounts

NTF - Natural trans fats like vaccenic and rumenic acid - good

ATF - Artificial trans fats like Elaidic acid -not found in nature - bad

The preceding would be the chemically based, "nutritionist" taxonomy. But we can construct a real-food based taxonomy by recombining the nutritionist elements into a 6 part scheme like this...

GRAF

Grass finished ruminant animal fats. LCSFA and Mono in roughly equal amounts. Same small amounts of n-6 as IRAF, but more n-3 to balance. More NTF. Best.

IRAF

Industrial grain-fed ruminant animal fats - LCSFA and Monounsaturates in roughly equal amounts with smaller amounts of PUFA - may be deficient in n-3 PUFA. Has less NTF. good

NRAF

Non-ruminant animal fat. Highly variable. Has LCSFA but may be very high in n-6 and if grain fed poor in n-3. More sensitive to diet of the animal than IRAF or GRAF. fair if pastured but poor otherwise. Think factory chicken.

TemPO

Temperate plant oils. Artificially abundant due to technology. excess n-6, effectively no n- 3. Some MUFA. Little LCSFA bad

TroPO

Tropical Plant Oils. Coconut and Palm oils. Good source of MCT and/or LCSFA - lower in n-6 and n-3. These are also made available by processing technology, but their content is better than TemPO. Good.

FF

Frankenfats. TemPO chemically modified by hydrogenation. Very bad - avoid completely.

I hope I have convinced you that the macronutrient label of "fat" as in "high fat" is or "low fat" diet is metabolically not very useful. Keep this in mind when you read anything at all in the literature about "fat".

Perhaps you can help me change the nutritional language game by using my new fat taxonomy and resisting the old one, even if you disagree with my judgements about their nutritional merit.

When you discuss diets or ways of eating, you can use language like "I eat PaNu, a high GRAF, low TemPO diet".

Or, "PaNu is a high GRAF, low TemPO, low NRAF, zero FF way of eating". PaNu is "low fat" in regard to TemPO and n-6 PUFA, but very high fat in regard to LCSFA, Mono and GRAF.

Or "Dr. Davis advocates a diet free of wheat, but unlike PaNu it is low GRAF and IRAF, but high TemPO and high n-6 PUFA". Davis is "low fat" in terms of animal fats, but "very high fat" in terms of n-6 PUFA.

We'll deal with "Carbohydrates" and offer a new taxonomy for them in Part II.

Answer Question


Get FREE instant access to our
Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!