Is Goat Milk Formula Healthier Than Cow's Milk Formula?
Fat Composition of Goat Milk vs. Cow’s Milk Formula
Some types of formula aren’t made with animal milks at all. For example, some hypoallergenic formulas are created with plant proteins. However, if you’re looking at formulas that are based on animal milks, you can typically choose between goat and cow’s milk. These ingredients contain distinct nutritional profiles.
Goat milk has about 10 grams of fat in every eight ounces. Whole cow’s milk contains 8 to 9 grams of fat in the same amount.
The fat globules in both types of milk are similar in structure to one another. However, the fat globules in goat milk are smaller than those that are in cow’s milk.
Also, cow’s milk contains agglutinin, and goat milk doesn’t. Agglutinin is a substance that causes fat particles to coagulate. Because these molecules cluster together in cow’s milk, the liquid is harder to digest than goat milk. Therefore, goat milk may be easier on an infant’s digestive system than cow’s milk.
The fatty acids in both types of formula also make a difference for your little one’s digestion. Neither goat nor cow’s milk options are loaded with fatty acids. But the fatty acids that are present in goat milk may be easier to digest than the ones that exist in cow’s milk.
Some parents switch to goat milk formula when their babies have gastrointestinal distress. Conditions such as reflux, excessive gas and diarrhea can lead parents to worry that their infants are negatively reacting to cow’s milk formula. Switching to goat milk could help you determine whether your child is sensitive to cow’s milk.
Protein Composition of Cow’s Milk vs. Goat Milk Formula
When the proteins in milk products interact with the enzymes in your digestive system, they form curds. The proteins in goat milk formula develop into softer curds than those in cow’s milk formula. Therefore, they’re digested rapidly.
This could potentially help infants that spit up cow’s milk formula soon after they’ve finished the bottle. If the proteins make it through the digestive tract faster, they’re less likely to cause upper gastrointestinal distress and be regurgitated.
Goat milk has another benefit when it comes to protein. Goat milk contains less of an allergenic protein than is found in cow’s milk. Studies have not concluded that children who drink goat milk formula are less likely to develop allergies to dairy than those who consume cow’s milk formula.
However, many parents feel sure that their children tolerate goat milk formula better than the alternatives. One of the best ways to determine what works best for your child is to offer each type and evaluate the results.
Sugar Composition of Cow’s Milk vs. Goat Milk Formula
Lactose is sometimes referred to as milk sugar. An enzyme in the body called lactase digests the lactose. If an infant doesn’t have high enough levels of lactase in the body, the milk sugar can enter the large intestine undigested. This may lead to diarrhea and gastrointestinal distress.
When people can’t properly digest lactose, they’re considered lactose intolerant. Some babies have issues processing lactose when they’re very young, but they may grow out of the intolerance.
Some symptoms of lactose intolerance include:
- Rumbling stomach
Lactose is found in human milk as well as cow and goat milk formula. The levels of lactose in goat milk are slightly less than those in cow’s milk. However, some formulas are modified so that they contain different sugars and less or no lactose. These may still contain a cow’s milk base, though.
Does the Mineral Content of Goat Milk Formula Make it Healthier than Cow’s Milk Formula?
Both types of formulas contain similar mineral contents. Regular goat milk, not the formula that is made from it, has more of the following vitamins and minerals than cow’s milk:
- 13 percent more calcium
- 47 percent more vitamin A
- 25 percent more vitamin B6
- 134 percent more potassium
- 3 times more niacin
- 4 times more copper
- 27 percent more selenium
However, cow’s milk contains more vitamin B12 and folic acid than goat milk. Formula manufacturers tend to enrich their products with the proper ratios of vitamins and minerals for a growing infant, though. You can rest assured that any high-quality baby formula will contain enough essential nutrients to nourish your little one.
Especially if you purchase an organic European style formula, you can be assured that the product contains everything that your infant needs to flourish. These formulas are also free of harmful additives, such as corn syrup.
The Bottom Line
Goat and cow’s milk have some distinct properties. In some ways, goat milk in its natural state is better for a baby than cow’s milk, especially if your child has a sensitivity to the proteins or sugars that are available in cow’s milk.
However, formula is a different story. Manufacturers add nutrients to formula to create a well-rounded product that satisfies an infant’s nutritional requirements. Most formulas are designed to mimic human milk as much as possible.
Goat milk is more similar to human milk than cow’s milk is. It is often easier for humans to digest. But in many cases, the way that the dairy ingredients are sourced is more significant than the animal that they came from. Organic, non-GMO formulas may be healthier for your child than conventional ones.
Holle is one of the only organic goat milk formulas on the market. But if your baby tolerates cow’s milk, you can ensure that you’re giving them a high-quality formula by choosing the Holle cow organic infant formula.
There is no such thing as a perfect formula. Certain types and brands may work better for some children than others.
- Jennifer Akiyama