Long-Chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids: For and Against

The following is a discussion on the Long Chain Polyunsaturated fatty acids, found in the human milk as well as in the milk supplements that feed young infants. Earlier on before these supplements came, infants, who were not breastfed by their mothers, could not survive. However, with the development of these food supplements, whose nutrition composition was almost similar to those of supplements meant that these children would survive. Nevertheless, there arose a controversy, how safe were these supplements, and how nutritious were they. This essay will indulge itself to look into the arguments orchestrated by these supplements and whether these supplements would be good if a company engages in the production of the Long Chain Polyunsaturated fatty acids or whether the production of those fats would be sustainable or not.

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One of the concerns still unresolved concerning these supplements is on whether it is critical to have the Long Chain Poly Unsaturated Fatty acids as a part of the formula milk to improve the learning capabilities of these kids (Rubin 2002).

The following are the reason for or the reasons why the company should manufacture these long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids. The first reason is that they are nutritious. This is because the intention of these formulas is to nurture the life of the infant for the first two or three months. Though these LCP do have high level of fat, it is a well-known fact that infants require these fats for development of their bodies (ASCH 1995).

The formula milk is usually made from the animal milk especially the cow milk. However, the biocompatibility factor of the cow milk does not allow easy absorption of the fat contained in the cow milk (Anderson & Moat 1999). This challenge results in the children being fed with the formula milk to develop slower than infants fed in the human milk not because the human milk is more nutritious than the man made milk but because of the compatibility factor.

Numerous studies done to verify the strength as well as the safety of these formulas have found that absorption of the fatty acids, which carry the nutrients that are helpful to the infant being the major challenge. Infants fed on human milk have a more formidable immune system as compared to infants who are fed on the formula milk. However, the formulas milk even when added the long chain unsaturated fat, its composition of fats cannot match those of the human milk. This is because human milk is well composed of the short chain and long chain fats.

The infant body is also renowned that they absorb nutrients from the human milk more readily than in the formula milk. This is so because of bio adaptability, which makes the human body to absorb these nutrients from their mother faster than from the formula milk. To curb the challenge, most of the commercial formula milk manufacturers have been on the lookout to for ways of coming up with a friendly formulas which will be acceptable by the human body, in the sense of having the body absorbing all the nutrients.

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To bridge this gap the manufacturers of the formula nutrition usually removes the fatty acid from animals and interchange these fats with the vegetable oils, which are not so complicated. The long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid from the vegetable oils can also have additional nutrients in its composition. In addition, to compensate for this low rate of absorption from infants the formulas are made with very high levels of nutrients (Ryan, 1997).

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and Arachidonic acid (ARA) have responsibility in development of the brain cells. These fats are usually deposited in the infant’s body by the mother during pregnancy and are in the breast milk of the mother. These fats are attributed to the development of the neuron cells of the human brain. The manufactures of the formula also came up with the fats derived from the fats found in fish and this has led to the development of the neuron cells in infants who use the formula nutrition (Gibson & Makrides 1998).

However, different studies have shown that the human milk is more effective in the development of the neuron cells than the formula milk. Some of the studies indicated that infants fed with the human milk had a higher level of IQ than the infants who fed with the formula nutrition containing the oil acids. Most of the research indicated a difference of five points of Intelligence Quotient between the children fed with the formula milk and the children fed with the human milk when all the other factors are constant. Even when the other factors received consideration, the difference was the points (Chen & Kwan 1997). This shows the superiority of the human milk over the formula milk.

The DHA and ARA acids which have now been included in the ingredients by most of the supplement manufactures are not harmful and various studies show that they do not have a negative effects on the infants who consume them although they still do not have a mega effect after consumption. These acids solely attributed to the high IQ of the infants who use them. Other factors such as the parents IQ have a bearing on the infants IQ (LSRO 1998).

When contrasting the milk formulas which had the DHA and the ARA acids and the supplements which had none of these fatty acids. The formulas containing these acids have more effect than those without these acids. Tests scores done on infants who took formulas with the above acids found that the acids were more effective in that the children who had taken these acids had higher test scores compared to the children who only took the ordinary formulas. The study also found that those who had consumed the formulas with these acids had a higher visual ability than those who took normal milk formula (Perini & Uauy 1999).

Irrespective of the advantages of using the long chain, unsaturated fatty acids care is necessary to ensure that the available fats are in the required proportion. This is because failure to manufacture the necessary fats in the right manner may result to health problems. Most of the government health agencies require these supplements to label on their ingredients’ to ensure that parents buy supplements containing these acids or the normal supplements (Chide & Jacobson 1999).

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Parents need advise against adding supplements on the conventional milk supplements because there are parents who do these in hope of adding value to the milk supplement. However, this does not necessarily add value; it rather decreases the rate of absorption in these bodies (American Academy of Paediatrics 1998).

In conclusion the company wishing to add these acids should do so confidently because these supplements do a lot to help infants especially those whose parents are not in a position to breastfeed them either because of their medical condition or any other issue. However, this should be done in a straight forward manner by labelling the milk formulas as per their ingredients’ so that the buyers are informed of what is contained in the supplements.

References

American Council on Science and Health, 1995, Facts about fats: Health effects of dietary fats and oils, ACSH, New York.

American Academy of Paediatrics (1998) Podiatric nutrition handbook, American Academy of Paediatrics Elk Grove Village, Illinois.

Anderson, W & Moat, J 1999, Breast-feeding and cognitive development: a meta-analysis, Clinical Nutrition, New York.

Chen, Z & Kwan, K 1997, Breast milk fatty acid composition: a comparative study between Hong Kong and Chongqing Chinese, Lipids, Hong Kong.

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Chide, L & Jacobson, W 1999, Breastfeeding effects on intelligence quotient in 4- and 11-year-old children, Paediatrics, New York.

Gibson, A & Makrides, M 1998, The role of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) in neonatal nutrition, Acted Paediatrics, New York.

LSRO (Life Sciences Research Office), 1998, Report: Assessment of nutrient requirements for infant formulas, Nutria, New York.

Perini, P & Uauy, R 1999, Breast is best: Human milk is the optimal food for brain development, Clinical Nutrition, Illinois.

Rubin, R 2002, Formula for bright babies: Experts consider whether fatty acids can affect IQ. USA Today, New York.

Ryan, A 1997, The resurgence of breastfeeding in the United States, Paediatrics, New York.

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