In spite of the fact that this is a follow up on previous rodent studies from the same researchers, I must warn you not to to expect too much of MFGMs, yet. More data and studies with more realistic resistance training + supplementation protocols from independent labs are warranted before MFGMs may eventually appear next to the previously mentioned top dogs on a list of "SuppVersity Recommended Supplements".
But hey, let's keep the skepticism for the bottom line and take a look at what the scientists from the Kao Corporation did with their fourteen Japanese subjects. The men, who were aged 31–48 years and did not participate in regular strength training before the study, took 1 g of the structural membranes of milk which are usually covering the triglyceride globules that are dispersed as emulsified bodies in milk or 1g of an identically looking whole milk powder as a placebo in tablet form for 4-weeks (composition see Table 1).
"On the exercise training enforcement days [i.e. the days on which the subjects were required to train], the subjects were instructed to take the tablet within 1 h before training. On the other days, the subjects were instructed to consume the tablet at the time of their choice during their daily routines.
Table 1: Composition of MFGM and whole milk powder (Soga. 2015)
The MFGM was prepared from buttermilk by filtering and centrifugation. The MFGM and whole milk powder compositions were analyzed at Japan Food Research Laboratories (Tokyo, Japan)" (Soga. 2015).The exercise routine the subjects from both groups had to follow consisted of two workouts per week. The workouts had to be performed on nonconsecutive days for 4 weeks using StrengthErgo 240 stationary cycling exercise machines (Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, Tokyo, Japan). On these machines, the subjects completed 3 sets of 15 % maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) cycle exercises for 60 s and 7 sets of 20 % MVC cycle exercises for 40 s at 50 rpm.
No further research is needed, though, to state that all other blood markers. These included AST + ALT (liver health), glucose and triglycerides + cholesterol, neither of which was affected by the supplement. The latter cannot be said of the increase in leg extension strength before and after the intervention and the EMG activity which showed highly significant inter-group differences.
Do I even have to supplement? I mean, I can just drink 600ml of full fat milk, right? I don't doubt that you can do just that. The problem is that the milk you can drink will probably be pasturized - a process of which Cano-Ruiz et al. (1997) have shown that it will induce significant and potentially functionally relevant differences in the composition of the milk fat globule membrane. Whether the supplement that was used at the study at hand was made during the production of buttermilk before or after pasteurization is not clear. If we assume it was made after pasteurization, though, you could in fact hope for similar results from pasteurized whole milk. Otherwise, the milk would have to be raw (even if it is, though it cannot be guaranteed that the same amount of MFGMs from milk will have identical effects).In fact, the differences in Figure 2 are pronounced enough to ask the question: Were they induced by the supplementation alone or did the pathetic training regimen have an effect here, as well? As I am going to point out in the bottom line one paragraph below, we will need studies with more realistic training programs to answer this question in a way that's relevant for trainees like you and me. In the mean time, however, there is no debating "that the daily intake of 1 g MFGM combined with regular, twice weekly exercise improved skeletal muscle strength (leg extension) in middle-aged adults, despite a lack of change in muscle mass" (Soga. 2015).
|Figure 2: The MFGM supplementation lead to significant increases in leg extension strength, of which the increase in EMG activity (likewise sign.) suggests that they were mediated by neuronal changes (Soga. 2015).|
"[...] revealed that dietary MFGM combined with regular exercise improved muscle strength in adult mice primarily by stimulating the pathway involving “nervous system development” in the skeletal muscle (Haramizu. 2014b). This pathway includes functional annotations such as formation of synapses, growth of neurites, or development of NMJ. Dietary MFGM combined with exercise increased skeletal muscle expression of docking protein-7 (Dok-7) and muscle-specific receptor tyrosine kinase in mice, both of which play a critical role in NMJ [neuromuscular junction] formation. Defects in NMJ function causes muscle weakness in neuromuscular disorders, and Dok-7 gene therapy improves NMJ formation and rescues the motor activity" (Soga. 2015).And still, even at the risk that I may sound like a broken record, I have to repeat that without future research it is impossible to tell (a) whether the assumptions we've made about the increase in red blood cell count are accurate and, maybe even more importantly, (b) who, i.e. which type of athlete, will benefit most from using MFGM supplements.
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