e-Foodtech Future – The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for infants up to 6 months of age. Over the age of 6 months, babies need additional nutritional intake from other foods – usually referred to as MPASI (complementary foods). The highest requirement of baby fat intake is at the age of the first 6 months, which is about 50% of the daily energy needs, which all come from breast milk. After the age of 2 years it is recommended to reduce fat intake regularly, which is about 30% of the total energy needs. In its development, the need for energy depends on the physical activity of children. And fat as a source of more energy is needed for the growth and development of cells and tissues.
Kavadya Syska, Coordinator of the Food Technology Study Program, Faculty of Science and Technology, University of Nahdlatul University Purwokerto said that there are several types of fat, so we cannot assume all types of fat are bad or good. Everything depends on the type, amount, and level of needs. One type of fat that is currently being discussed is PUFA, mainly because it is widely used for food product fortification. PUFA (Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid) is a plural unsaturated fatty acid having> 1 double bond, for example: omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
PUFA is a long chain fatty acid that contains two or more double bonds. Not all types of PUFA can be produced by the human body, which came to be known as PUFA essential. To meet these needs, the body needs essential PUFA intake from outside the body. Two types of essential PUFAs include α-linolenic acid (ALA) and Linoleic acid (LA). ALA (18: 3: ω3) in the body will be converted to Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, 20: 5: ω3) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22: 6: ω3). All of them are omega 3. Meanwhile, LA (18: 2: ω6) will be converted to Arachidonic acid (AA, 20: 4: ω6).
PUFA is important for children’s growth and development. PUFA makes up 15-30% of the brain’s dry weight. The main components in phospholipid cell membranes are AA and DHA. Whereas ALA and EPA are in low concentrations in nerve tissue. Both ω-3 and ω-6 have a role in the development of brain function, namely by influencing gene expression, membrane cell structure, and electrophysiological properties. Specifically, DHA can affect membrane fluidity and several other brain functions. PUFA consumption has been recommended since pregnancy. But most important is the consumption of omega 3 and omega 6 should be in a balanced amount. Consumption of mixed PUFAs will also be better.
Some studies suggest that consumption of PUFA in pregnant and lactating women can support fetal development. PUFA in pregnant women is consumed not only to meet the needs of the mother, but also the baby she is carrying. Adequate PUFA intake in pregnant and lactating women gives a positive correlation on the cognitive, nervous, and visual development of the baby. However, it is recommended not to provide EPA supplements to pregnant women or babies. Because it is feared that it can disturb the balance of DHA and EPA at the beginning of growth.
Sources: interviews and references analysis
Food Technology, UNU Purwokerto: Creative, Innovative, Fantastic
Food Technology, UNU Purwokerto: Developing Creative and Innovative Future