[On World Milk Day (June 1), the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) hosted a commentary by scientist Janos Zempleni, PhD, Willa Cather Professor of Molecular Nutrition, Department of Nutrition and Health Sciences, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, who enthused about the potential benefits of supplementing infant formula with small, benefit-rich nanoparticles (exosomes) from milk. Dr. Zempleni’s commentary follows.] Today is World Milk Day! In the United States, the average annual consumption of milk is approximately 146 pounds (17 gallons) per person, according to data from USDA’s Economic Research Service (https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/dairy-data/dairy-data/). Children account for a large portion of milk drinkers, particularly infants, as milk is meant to be the sole source of nutrition for infants until age 6 months. Milk naturally contains infection-fighting properties. Commercial baby formula usually does not. Funding from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and other sponsors has allowed me to explore an element of milk that could potentially be used as a supplement in baby formula to boost nutrition and stave off infection. If I asked you about the nutritional importance of milk, nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D might come to mind. But there is more. I began exploring novel bioactive compounds in cow’s milk in 2014, and discovered that milk contains approximately 6,000,000,000,000 natural nanoparticles called “exosomes,” per fluid ounce. When you drink milk, milk exosomes enter your body and deliver a variety of proteins, lipids, RNA, and DNA to the liver, brain, placenta, and gut. Exosomes and their cargo work their magic and support essential functions such as learning and memory, the immune system, and reproduction.
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