Natural Isomers in Milk

Abstract: BACKGROUND: Different conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) isomers are known to have contrasting physiology or health effects and there is growing evidence that the profile of natural isomers in milk is influenced by the production system. This survey is the first to compare feeding regimes and concentrations of 14 CLA isomers in milk from three production systems in the UK. RESULTS: Total CLA and seven isomers (including C18:2 c9t11 which comprised >80% of total) were significantly higher in milk from both organically certified and non-certified low input (LI) systems compared with milk from conventional high input farms. Sampling date also affected concentrations of total CLA and nine isomers; being lowest in March and highest in August. Seasonal differences were greater in milk from LI herds, thought to be due to changes in herbage and/or stage of lactation. Multivariate analysis showed a strong positive relationship between several CLA isomers and increasing levels of fresh forage in the diet. CONCLUSIONS: These results add to the evidence on how management adjustment may improve the profile of CLA isomers in milk fat, although animal or human intervention studies are required to identify the effects of consuming milk with different CLA levels and isomer profiles on human health. ©   2009 Society of Chemical Industry

Reference: Butler, G., Collomb, M., Rehberger, B., Sanderson, R., Eyre, M., and Leifert, C. (2009). Conjugated linoleic acid isomer concentrations in milk from high- and low-input management dairy systems. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 89(4): 697-705. Available online at: