Human Breast Milk Provides Better Antioxidant Capacity than Infant Formula

Document Type : Research article


1 Department of Drug and Food Control, School of Pharmacy, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.

2 Food and Drug Laboratory Research Center, Ministry of Health and Medical Education, Tehran, Iran.

3 Food Sciences and Medical Hydrology Department, School of Pharmacy, Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences, Ahvaz,Iran.

4 Arash Hospital, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.


Human milk contains all of the constituents that are required for the optimal growth and development of a neonate. It supports the development of brain, immune, and physiological systems. This study aimed to consider the significance of breast milk in preventing oxidative stress by comparing total antioxidant capacity (TAC) in breast and formula milk for premature infants, demonstrating the relationship between TAC in breast milk and postnatal age in days.
The Ferric reducing antioxidant power assay (FRAP) method was used to spectophotometrically measure of TAC in breast and formula milk. One hundred and fourty (n = 140) lactating mothers agreed to participate in the study. TAC was also measured in two brands of formula milk (n = 80).
The Range of TAC in human breast milk was 234.27-1442.31 µM and in two formula was 160.04-630.92 µM. The average TAC was significantly higher in breast milk (642.94 ± 241.23 µM) compared to formula milk (280.986 ± 100.34 µM) p < 0.0001. The TAC of breast milk was increased with some nutritional parameter such as increased consumption of cheese, vegetables, fruits, bread and nuts. Infants’ height at the birthday was directly correlated with antioxidant capacity of breast milk, whilst a reversed correlation was observed between TAC in breast milk and infant age.
Based on our results, it is concluded that the TAC of breast milk is varied and affected by nutrition. It is alo observed that TAC is significantly higher in breast milk than formula, which means that breast milk provides better antioxidant potency than infant formula.