Breast milk is the best and most complete food for an infant. This milk meets all needs of an infant to their 6months old, provided that the mother follows a proper and nutrient dietary pattern. In addition to supplying infant’s energy, breast milk contains all nutrient materials including protein, fat, carbohydrate, vitamins and minerals.
In average, breast milk contains 1% protein, out of which 60% to 70% is whey protein and the rest is casein. This proportion of whey to casein enhances biologic value of the breast milk and meets needs of infant to essential amino acids and also it is easy to digest.
Fat content of the breast milk is 3.5% that in addition to saturated fats, it contains essential fatty acids of linoleic acid and α-linoleic acid, as well as non-saturated long chain fatty acids (AA & DHA). These fats contribute considerably to improvement of neural, cerebrospinal and visual systems.
Breast milk contains 7% lactose that is the highest lactose content amongst mammals. In addition to supplying infant’s energy, this sugar contributes to better digestion of minerals, especially calcium. In addition to lactose, breast milk contains more than 100 oligosaccharide combinations with prebiotic function and contributes considerably to optimized performance of digestive system and also stimulate growth and activity of intestinal useful bacteria (lactobacilli and bifidobacterium).
Breast milk contains all fat-soluble vitamins, including vitamins A, D, E and K. also, this milk also contains water-soluble vitamins such as group B vitamins, choline and vitamin C.
Breast milk contains all minerals, including calcium, phosphor, iron, zinc, magnesium, etc. Also, it contains selenium and cobalt. Selenium acts as an antioxidant and cobalt contributes to vitamin B12 activity.
In addition to its main components, breast milk contains bioactive components. Among these components, we can imply enzymes like lysozyme (antibacterial enzyme), amylase and lipase (carbohydrate and fat digestive enzyme). Also, there are components such as immunoglobulins that contribute to enhancement of infant’s immune system. Among other biomaterials we can imply nucleotides that are used in development and reconstruction of all cells.