Copper absorption from human milk, cow's milk, and infant formulas using a suckling rat model

B. Lonnerdal, J. G. Bell, Carl L Keen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Since copper deficiency is known to occur during infancy, it becomes important to assess copper uptake from various infant diets. We have investigated the uptake of copper from human milk, cow's milk, cow's milk formulas, cereal/milk formula and soy formula, compensating for the decay of 64Cu and using the suckling rat as a model. Radiocopper was added to the diet in trace amounts. Ultracentrifugation, ultrafiltration, and gel filtration were used to show that the added 64Cu bound to milk fractions and individual binding compounds in a manner analogous to the distribution of native copper, thus validating the use of extrinsically labeled diets. Labeled diets were intubated into 14-day-old suckling rats. Animals were killed after 6 h and tissues removed and counted. Liver copper uptake was 25% from human milk, 23% from cow's milk formula, 18% from cow's milk, 17% from premature (cow's milk based) infant formula, 17% from cereal/milk formula and 10% from soy formula. These results show that the rat pup model may provide a rapid, inexpensive, and sensitive method to assay bioavailability of copper from infant foods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)836-844
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1985

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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