Multiple studies have shown that high protein intake during infancy accelerates weight gain, increasing the risk of obesity in later life, leading researchers to conclude that lower protein formula in infancy lowers BMI trajectories and achieves similar BMI values similar to breastfed infants.
Driven by such findings, and regulatory changes, the protein content of infant formula has gradually fallen in many countries.
One of the most effective ways to create formulas that are lower in protein but high in nutritional quality is to formulate with alpha-lactalbumin (alpha). Rich in essential amino acids and high in other amino acids, such as cysteine, it is the most abundant whey protein in human milk, but the team at Arla says standard formula contains considerably lower levels.
Arla Foods Ingredients’ newest whey protein isolate, Lacprodan ALPHA-50, presents a new solution to this challenge. Alpha-lactalbumin accounts for a minimum of 90% of its protein content, which means smaller dosages can be used to reach a level similar to that of human milk.
The team says the new product’s high level of alpha-lactalbumin allows a high degree of formulation freedom. For example, it can be combined with other functional ingredients, such as Lacprodan MFGM-10, a milk fat globule membrane ingredient which contains compounds such as phospholipids, sphingomyelin and gangliosides.
Lone Strøm, Head of Paediatric Sales Development at Arla Foods Ingredients, said: “Lacprodan ALPHA-50 offers solutions to two big challenges facing formula manufacturers. Its high alpha-lactalbumin content allows the creation of products that are lower in protein, demand for which is growing because of concerns about obesity. And because it delivers considerable amounts of essential amino acids, even at a low dosage, it is easily combined with other ingredients that are sought after in formula.”
Arla explains on its website that alpha-lactalbumin is one of the food proteins with the highest content of the amino acid tryptophan, an essential amino acid that has to be obtained from the diet and cannot be synthesised in the body.
It states: "Tryptophan is the precursor of serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter and also functions as the precursor to melatonin (hormone involved in the sleep-wake cycle). Serotonin exerts multiple effects and is implicated in the control of the appetite, mood, sleep regulation, cognitive performance and the ability to cope with stress."
The new product is the latest addition to Arla Foods Ingredients’ alpha range. Other products include Lacprodan ALPHA-06, a whey protein concentrate that is high in alpha-lactalbumin, and Lacprodan ALPHA-10, which is supported by both clinical documentation and 25 years of market use.
Arla Foods Ingredients supports the WHO recommendation for exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of an infant’s life and continued breastfeeding up to the age of two or beyond in combination with nutritionally appropriate complementary foods.