Macronutrients are the most important quantitative ingredients in food for infants and young children, of course with water, which makes up 88% – 90% of the content after preparation. They are needed in the body in relatively large quantities for the growth, development and normal functioning of the body. Unlike breast milk, in which the amount and ratio of macronutrients change over the months, during each day and during each meal in infant formula, it is of course always constant except that it changes depending on the manufacturer every 3 or 6 months.
By definition, macronutrients are nutrients in food that the human body needs in large quantities. Macronutrients include:
Their ratio and amount in breast milk is often variable depending on the mother’s diet and the time that has elapsed since delivery. According to their basic function in the diet, macronutrients are:
- energy sources – most often carbohydrates and fats
- source of building blocks of the body – most often proteins and fats
All macronutrients can be used in metabolism as a source of energy and as a building block, and of course as special regulatory molecules in metabolic processes, but most often serve as a source of energy or building blocks of the body. Cow’s milk as well as other milks used as a food base for infants and young children do not contain a significant group of macronutrients, breast milk oligosaccharides also known as prebiotics. Prebiotics are functionally and medically very important ingredients and are therefore in quality foods for infants and young children replaced by ingredients produced by various production processes that with their characteristics as much as possible compensate for the effects of breast milk oligosaccharides.
The most important roles are:
- regulating and supporting the development of healthy intestinal microflora in children
- modulation of the immune system
- regulation of digestion.
By their amount, they belong to macronutrients because they contain twice as much as protein and make up about 20% of dry matter, but because of their role we often describe them among micronutrients.
Mean macronutrients are adapted to those contained in mature breast milk and range in amounts from:
- from 0.9 to 1.2 g / 100 ml for proteins
- from 3.2 to 3.6 g / 100 ml for fat
- from 6.7 to 7.8 g / 100 ml for lactose
The energy value of food for infants and young children is consistent with that in breast milk and ranges from 65 to 70 kcal per 100 ml. The largest amount of energy comes from fat, which is different from food after infancy, when carbohydrates take over the main source of energy. The composition of macronutrients, unlike breast milk, is constant and changes only when we move from one stage of infant food to the next. Differences from the usual amount of macronutrients are found only in food for premature babies that has increased amounts of protein and increased energy value compared to the usual, due to the specific nutritional needs of premature babies.
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