A new study led by experts from Fonterra, the University of Auckland, and the University of Otago, has revealed that supplementing diets with broad-spectrum phospholipids found naturally in milk fat globule membranes (MFGM) can reduce stress.
Project EMPOWER (Employing Milk Phospholipids to Observe Wellbeing Emotional Resiliency) aimed to enrich research in the phospholipids field. The full research paper has been accepted and published in the Journal of Functional Foods.
Study extends current research on the role of milk derived phospholipids in reducing stress
Overall, the EMPOWER study found a statistically significant 45% reduction in mean stress scores, compared to 21% in the placebo group. This proves an effective link between supplementing with Nutiani Phospholipids and participants’ stress response.
Researchers examined adults aged between 25 to 60 years old residing in New Zealand. Participants received either Nutiani Phospholipids (Fonterra’s MFGM rich powder) or a maltodextrin placebo. They consumed one serving every day for 12 weeks mixed into drinks like smoothies, milk, or water, or sprinkled over breakfast cereal.
Unlike single phospholipid sources, Nutiani Phospholipids are broad-spectrum phospholipids, containing a range of major phospholipids and sphingolipids — including phosphatidylserine, phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylethanolamine, phosphatidylinositol, and sphingomyelin. Each of these is present in a similar proportion to that of the human brain.
After a check-in on week six and at the end of the 12 weeks, it was found that the group given 300mg of broad-spectrum phospholipids reported significantly lower stress scores than the placebo group.
Dr Maher Fuad, research clinician of the health and nutrition science team at Fonterra, said that the findings extend current literature around the role of milk sourced, broad-spectrum phospholipids in reducing stress symptoms.
“These findings are consistent with previous work demonstrating that supplementation with broad-spectrum phospholipids improve the response to a stressful situation.”
Dr Fuad added that there was also a strong suggestion that supplementation of broad-spectrum phospholipids can reduce anxiety from day one, though further testing is required.
Participants who took a higher dose containing 600mg of broad-spectrum phospholipids from MFGM demonstrated significantly lower stress scores after six weeks but not 12. This signals there may be an optimal dose of MFGM and to reduce stress symptoms, which will be further explored in future studies.
“The study’s results provide more clinical substantiation for the science and wellbeing fields to help consumers understand and make the best use of milk derived phospholipids in their everyday lives,” Dr Fuad said.
Dr Fuad, who is a co-author of the paper, will be presenting this research at the International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids (ISSFAL) 2023 Congress in Nantes, France from 2-5 Jul 2023.