Phospholipids and their importance for development

Phospholipids are a class of lipids that are a major component of cell membranes. Traditionally, lipids were considered a great source of energy during lactation, nowadays they are also known to play a prominent role during brain development.

How are these molecules beneficial and why are they an essential nutrient for optimal development?

Phospholipids are amphipathic lipids: they consist of a hydrophilic (or ‘water loving’) head and a hydrophobic (or ‘water fearing’) tail. Phospholipids like to line up and arrange themselves into two parallel layers called phospholipid bilayer – this layer makes up your cell membranes and is critical for the cell’s ability to function. They even activate the enzymes acting as messengers in the transmission of signals inside the cells and regulate cholesterol. They also stimulate the development, migration and differentiation of nerve cells.

Breast milk contains these essential lipids, optimal for brain development. Breastfeeding is the best option for your child. It’s recommended it be the sole source of nutrition during the first 6 months of your child’s life and then complemented with other solid foods up to 2 years of age or more. When breastfeeding is supplemented or replaced by a growth formula, it’s important to make sure that it contains all the nutrients necessary. Nestlé’s ® Excella Gold ® growth formula contains phospholipids and many of the other neuro-nutrients necessary for a healthy development. It is always important to consult your pediatrician before choosing a growth formula for your child.

Other food sources rich in phospholipids include:

  • Nuts and almonds: Not only are they delicious but they are also rich in phospholipids and antioxidants.
  • Egg yolk: In addition to having phospholipids, it’s a great source of protein, minerals and vitamins beneficial to your child’s health as well.

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