Amino acid composition of pinniped milk

Comp Biochem Physiol B Biochem Mol Biol. 1995 Mar;110(3):633-9. doi: 10.1016/0305-0491(94)00162-n.


The total amino acid concentration and the amino acid pattern, i.e. the relative proportion of each amino acid (protein-bound plus free) to the total amino acids, in the milks of the Northern elephant seal, Antarctic fur seal, California sea lion, and Australian sea lion were determined. Total amino acid concentration was 10% (w/v) or greater and did not vary significantly among species. The most abundant amino acids in the milks of all species were glutamate, proline and leucine. Essential amino acids were 40%, branched-chain amino acids were 20%, and sulfur amino acids were 4% of the total milk amino acids in all species. There were differences among the pinnipeds in some of the individual amino acids; the milk of the Northern elephant seal was the most distinct among the pinnipeds with higher histidine, serine and cystine contents and a lower methionine content than that of other pinnipeds. There was little effect of stage of lactation on total amino acid concentration or amino acid pattern in pinniped milk. Comparison of milk from the four pinniped species with that of 14 other mammalian species suggests commonality in milk amino acid pattern despite the wide variation in total amino acid concentration among the species.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / analysis
  • Animals
  • Female
  • Lactation
  • Milk / chemistry*
  • Pregnancy
  • Seals, Earless / metabolism*
  • Species Specificity
  • Time Factors


  • Amino Acids