Palmitic acid—and especially palmitic acid bonded to the second position on a triglyceride’s glycerol backbone—is the most prevalent saturated fatty acid in human milk. SN-2 palmitate, as it’s known, confers widely acknowledged benefits to growing babies, including longer sleep duration and reduced crying. As such, it’s a commonly added as a structured fat in infant formulas.
Now, a new animal study1 has shown that INFAT, an SN-2 infant formula ingredient made by Advanced Lipids (Karlshamm, Sweden), may have the potential to support healthy bone growth, as well.
Researchers subjected two groups of pre-pubertal male rats to a catch-up growth model, wherein the rats underwent food restriction for 17 days and then were reintroduced to feeding for nine days with either a diet enriched with the SN-2 fat or a form of palmitic acid present in vegetable oil. Researchers measured bone length, epiphyseal growth plate (EGP) height, bone quality, and gene expression, and found that while weight gain was similar in both groups, the INFAT-containing diet improved most growth parameters and increased humeri length and EGP plate height more than in the placebo group. Bone quality measures also appeared higher in the INFAT group, though the difference was not statistically significant. Further analysis showed that the SN-2 diet affected expression of three genes in the liver that may be associated with growth and development in the EGP
In a press statement, Dr. Sigalit Zchut, chief scientist, Advanced Lipids’, noted that while the SN-2 ingredient is already well-established as a structured fat for infant formula and has support from multiple clinical studies, “This study is exciting because it shows that SN-2 palmitate may have a beneficial effect on the length and quality of bones of mice that were subjected to food restriction, followed by nutrition-induced catch up growth.” While the study is preclinical, he continued, “Its implications may be important, especially for children with growth disorders and children with special nutritional needs.”
- Bar-Maisels M et al., “Beta palmitate improves bone length and quality during catch-up growth in young rats.” Nutrients, vol. 9, no. 7 (2017): 764