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Health Benefits of the Milk Fat Globule Membrane

Yet another Reason to Drink Whole Milk


Yet another Reason to Drink Whole Milk

What if I told you there are component in milk that are anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal. What if I told you that milk has anti-carcinogenic properties, and has even been shown to prevent and inhibit the growth of cancer. Well this is real; researchers have discovered components in milk that provide these functions. Read more

Bio-diversity would be a good term to describe the vast array of biological compounds found in milk. When you think about the health benefits of milk, you often think about calcium and protein, but what about the other components of milk. Milk is teaming with many beneficial bio-active compounds that are good for your health.

Most people probably wouldn’t think of milk fat as being part of a healthy diet. Probably because researchers are still in the process of understanding what milk fat actual is. Interestingly, the research has been showing that milk fat has more positive health benefits than we could ever imagine.

One of these beneficial bio-active compounds is found in milk fat and is called the milk fat globule membrane (MFGM)

Fat is not bad for you, in fact it’s a treasure trove of health enhancing components. If you’re not drinking whole milk, you’re missing out on all these other beneficial nutrients.

The milk fat globule membrane (MFGM)

The fat in milk is encased in droplets that are encased in a structure called the milk fat globule membrane, MFGM. It’s a double layered membrane that keeps the milk fat separate, and stable in milk. This membrane is also comprised of many different bioactive compounds.


**Milk Fat Globule Membrane is comprised of many different bioactive compounds**

The different bioactive compounds on the MFGM are still being researched, but there are a variety of beneficial compounds such as lactoferrin, igG, sialic acid, phospholipids, and gangliosides. Many of these compounds are the key in antiviral and antimicrobial mechanisms that combat infections and bacteria in the gut. Even the simple membrane encasing the milk-fat is being shown to have beneficial properties.

Milk Fat Globule Membrane Proteins

Attached to the MFGM is a variety of proteins. MFGM contains over 100 different proteins. These proteins have been shown to have positive effects on the body, and researchers are just beginning to understand the positive benefits these proteins provide.



**A diagram showing the different proteins in the MFGM. If you’re not drinking the fat, look at all the compounds you’re missing out on**

Lactoferrin – Milk’s “White Gold” a Natural Immune Enhancer

Lactoferrin is being heralded as one of the most revolutionary discoveries in milk. This protein is a natural immune booster and can super charge your immune system.

Lactoferrin has been shown to have anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal, and anti-carcinogenic properties and has also been shown to enhance bone growth and formation. Lactoferrin’s anti-bacterial effects work by sequestering free iron, which removes the essential substrate required for bacterial growth. Lactoferrin has also been shown to suppress virus replication after the virus penetrated into the cell and prevents the spread of viruses in the body.

Fungal overgrowths in the body such as Candida Albicans have been eradicated by lactoferrin supplementation, and were more effective than using drugs. Bovine lactoferrin also prevents H. pylori from attaching to the stomach wall which aids in healthy digestive system. (Source)

Bovine lactoferrin has also been shown to have anti-cancer properties and aid the suppression of various cancers such as lung, bladder, tongue, colon, and liver carcinogenesis.  Bovine lactoferrin decreased the incidence of oral cancer by 50% and is a potential chemopreventive agent for oral cancer. Lactoferrin has also been shown to be effective in weight loss. (Source)

The Other Health Enhancing Proteins

The other proteins in the MFGM also have positive effects. Researchers are making some really neat discoveries.

I’ll be honest, pronouncing these compounds and fully understanding how they work can be overwhelming, but here is a short summary of the proteins and their affects:

  • Mucin 1 (MUC1) – Has antiviral effects and is Anti Rotavirus especially in neonates
  • Mucin 15 (MUC15 or PAS III) – Another protein that has strong antiviral properties
  • Butyrophilin (BTN)- Suppression of multiple sclerosis
  • Xanthine oxidase (XO) – Bactericidal agent that works in the gut by reducing oxygen
  • Cluster of differentiation (CD36 or PAS IV)- Glycoproteins that act as receptors due to high sugar content
  • Fatty acid binding protein (FABP) – Cell growth inhibitor Anti-cancer factor (FABP as selenium carrier)
  • BRCA1 and BRCA2 – Has been shown to inhibit the growth of breast cancer
  • Lactadherin (PAS 6/7)- Role of epithelialization, cell polarization, cell movement and rearrangement, neurite outgrowth, synaptic activity in the central nervous system, protection against viral infection in the gut
  • Adipophilin (ADPH) – Milk synthesis

Other Bioactive Compounds

Other bioactive compounds in the MFGM include: cholesterolemia-lowering factor, inhibitors of cancer cell growth, vitamin binders, inhibitor of Helicobacter pylori, inhibitor of beta-glucuronidase of the intestinal Escherichia coli, xanthine oxidase as a bactericidal agent, butyrophilin as a possible suppressor of multiple sclerosis, and phospholipids as agents against colon cancer, gastrointestinal pathogens, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and stress.

  • β-Glucoronidase – inhibitor Inhibition of colon cancer
  • Helicobacter pylori inhibitor – Helps prevent the development of gastric diseases
  • Cholesterolemia – lowering factor Anti-cholesterol activity
  • Vitamin E and carotenoids – Anti-oxidants
  • Phospholipids Emulsifier – anticholesterimic, promotes cholesterol metabolism and transport
  • Phosphoproteins Source of organic phosphorus and Ca-phosphate


**Current research is showing that the MFGM helps protect against colon cancer**


**A recent study showed milk fat may preserve digestive track integrity**

Milk fat is only beginning to be researched

The cool thing is that researchers are only scratching the surface to the other components in milk. It seems as though there is a large opportunity for researchers out there to discover other compound in milk. Interestingly as the research is progressing, we are finding out that there are so many things in milk which actually help the body and are in milk for specific reasons.

The research is promising, and proving that milk is part of a healthy lifestyle. It will be interesting to see what researchers discover next.


  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15956291
  2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1779072
  3. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0958694607002336
  4. http://www.calpoly.edu/~dptc/ingredients/presentations/8_using_proteomic.pdf
  5. http://www.lifeextension.com/Magazine/2014/5/Weight-Loss-Benefits-of-Lactoferrin/Page-01
  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lactoferrin
  7. https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=4&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CDUQFjADahUKEwjcyNCGgZXGAhXFoogKHXywAFg&url=http%3A%2F%2Fjournal.pan.olsztyn.pl%2Ffd.php%3Ff%3D1278&ei=B4GAVZypHMXFogT84ILABQ&usg=AFQjCNH444HzCKC5JH25wIlMJeih6_TXkA&sig2=z6FZuknSsRG5t1i5-O5e8w&bvm=bv.96041959,d.cGU