Branched chain fatty acid content of United States retail cow's milk and implications for dietary intake

Lipids. 2011 Jul;46(7):569-76. doi: 10.1007/s11745-011-3530-8. Epub 2011 Feb 4.


Branched chain fatty acids (BCFA) have recently been shown to be a major component of the normal human newborn gastrointestinal tract and have long been known to be a component of human milk. Ruminant food products are major sources of fat in the American diet, but there are no studies of milkfat BCFA content in retail milk. We report here the profile and concentrations of BCFA in a representative sampling of retail milk in the 48 contiguous United States (US), and their estimated intake in the American diet. Conventionally produced whole fluid milk samples were obtained from 56 processing plants across the contiguous 48 states. Retail milk samples contain exclusively iso- and anteiso-BCFA with 14-18 carbons. BCFA were 2.05 ± 0.14%, w/w of milkfat fatty acids (mean ± SD), and anteiso-BCFA comprised more than half this total. Based on these data and USDA food availability data, the average per capita BCFA intake of Americans is estimated to be about 220 mg/d from dairy; if current dietary recommendations were followed, BCFA intake would be about 400 mg/d. Adding intake from beef consumption, these estimates rise to approximately 400 and 575 mg/d, respectively. These results indicate that BCFA intake is a substantial fraction of daily fat intake, in amounts exceeding those of many bioactive fatty acids.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Dairy Products / analysis
  • Diet, Fat-Restricted*
  • Energy Intake*
  • Fatty Acids / analysis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Milk / chemistry*
  • United States


  • Fatty Acids