Trace elements and their distribution in protein fractions of camel milk in comparison to other commonly consumed milks

J Dairy Res. 2001 Aug;68(3):463-9. doi: 10.1017/s0022029901005003.


Studies on camels' milk, whether with respect to concentration or bioavailability of trace elements from this milk, are limited and warrant further investigation. The object of this study was to analyse the concentration and distribution of zinc, copper, selenium, manganese and iron in camel milk compared to those in human milk, cows' milk and infant formula under similar experimental conditions. Camels' milk and cows' milk were collected from local farms, human milk samples were obtained from healthy donors in Kuwait and infant formula was purchased locally. Milk fractionation was performed by ultra-centrifugation and gelcolumn chromatography. The concentration of trace elements was analysed by atomic absorption spectrometry and that of protein was determined spectrophotometrically. The concentration of manganese and iron in camels' milk was remarkably higher (7-20-fold and 4-10-fold, respectively) than in human milk, cows' milk and infant formula. The zinc content of camels' milk was higher than that of human milk but slightly lower than in cows' milk and infant formula. The concentration of copper in camels' milk was similar to that of cows' milk but lower than in human milk and infant formula. The selenium content of camels' milk was comparable to those of other types of milk, Approximately 50-80% of zinc, copper and manganese in camels' milk were associated with the casein fraction, similar to that of cows' milk, The majority of selenium and iron in camels' milk was in association with the low molecular weight fraction, It is recommended that camels' milk be considered as a potential source of manganese, selenium and iron, perhaps not only for infants, but also for other groups suspected of mild deficiency of these elements. Further investigations are required to confirm this proposal.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Availability
  • Camelus / physiology*
  • Cattle
  • Chromatography, Gel
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant Food / analysis
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lactation
  • Milk / chemistry*
  • Milk / metabolism
  • Milk Proteins / analysis*
  • Milk, Human / chemistry
  • Spectrophotometry, Atomic / veterinary
  • Trace Elements / analysis*
  • Trace Elements / pharmacokinetics


  • Milk Proteins
  • Trace Elements