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Am J Clin Nutr. 1996 Sep;64(3):291-6.

Palm olein in infant formula: absorption of fat and minerals by normal infants.

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Department of Pediatrics, University of Iowa, Iowa City 52242-1083, USA.


Palm olein, a low-melting fraction of palm oil, and soy oil can be combined to obtain fat blends with proportions of palmitic and oleic acids similar to those of human milk. We compared the absorption of fat and calcium by infants fed a formula containing a blend of palm olein (53%) and soy oil (47%) (Formula PO/S) with that by infants fed a formula containing a blend of soy oil (60%) and coconut oil (40%) (Formula S/C). In a randomized crossover design, one study was performed with each formula in each of 11 normal infants ranging in age from 27 to 161 d. Six of the infants were admitted for 72-h metabolic balance studies. In the other five infants, feces (with some admixture of urine) were collected at home for 96 h by using acid-washed cloth diapers. Mean (+/- SD) absorption of fat was 90.6 +/- 1.6% of intake when Formula PO/S was fed and 95.2 +/- 1.1% of intake when Formula S/C was fed; the difference was significant (P < 0.001). The difference in excretion of fat by infants fed the two formulas was explained by the difference in excretion of palmitic acid. Absorption of calcium averaged 39.0 +/- 8.3% of intake with Formula PO/S and 48.4 +/- 10.3% with Formula S/C; the difference was significant (P < 0.01). We conclude that fat is less well absorbed from a mixture of 53% palm olein and 47% soy oil than from a mixture of 60% soy oil and 40% coconut oil, and that absorption of calcium is less from a formula containing palm olein, presumably because of the formation of insoluble calcium soaps of unabsorbed palmitic acid.

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