How Healthy is Your Baby's Formula?
With the unprecedented baby-formula shortage, parents and caretakers have been scrambling to grab any formula they can find, intent on giving their babies the precious nutrition they need. But, just as so many ask, "Where can I find formula?" it may also be time for another question: "What's in our formula?" Unfortunately, not all formulas include ingredients that are wholesome for your baby. The following ingredients are among those we need to avoid. 

  • Corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, and added sugars: Corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, and similar sweeteners contribute exorbitant levels of sugar to your baby's diet and can place them at risk of developing Type-2 diabetes as they mature. Palm oil: Palm oil may hinder calcium absorption in infants. Moreover,the conversion of tropical forests to palm-oil plantations is devastating to plant and animal habitats. 
  • Carrageenan: Though carrageenan is a seaweed-based thickener that is generally recognized as safe (GRAS), it has been correlated with intestinal inflammation, imbalance of gut microbiota, and other deleterious impacts to the digestive system. 
  • Toxins (arsenic, lead, cadmium): Toxins–like arsenic, lead, and cadmium are found all-too-frequently in baby formulas. A recent study by the Clean Label Project determined that 80% of American baby formulas contain arsenic, which can trigger heart disease, cancer, and death, and 36% contained lead which can lead to behavioral and developmental disorders. Cadmium,which serves as a plastics stabilizer in batteries, was also detected in a substantial portion of baby formulas. Though aluminum is found in breast milk and tap water, it is far exceeded by the amount contained in many U.S. baby formulas. Soy formulas tend to have higher concentrations of aluminum, which can result in Alzheimer’s disease, and other forms of dementia, decades later. 
  • Pesticides and heavy metals: Pesticides and heavy metals are not listed on labels, but are often part of the materials used in the production of baby formulas. How can you minimize exposure? You want to purchase organic formulas and those that are sustainably manufactured. Hormones and antibiotics: Hormones and antibiotics are most likely to be present in dairy-based baby formula due to conventional agriculture methods. Formula with more plant-based ingredients can minimize exposure to them. 
  • Synthetic flavors or dyes: Synthetic flavors, like vanillin, or artificial dyes, like Red-3, may raise the risk of hypersensitivity and behavioral disorders. 

 Now that we know some ingredients to avoid, what should we look for in baby formula? Here are some of the most beneficial ingredients: Iron: In many ways, iron is the foundation of physiological functioning. 
  1. Iron: Iron is imperative to the production of hemoglobin, which is responsible for transporting oxygen, in red blood cells, throughout the body. Just as importantly, iron advances neurological development in infants and toddlers. 
  2. Protein: Proteins are among the most fundamental components of any well-balanced diet. They aid in the repair, and contribute to nourishment of tissues. Proteins are also vital to the proper development of the body's organs, bones, and muscles, and the effective functioning of physiological systems. Furthermore, proteins are versatile serving as enzymes, cellular messengers, and immunity defenders among other roles. 
  3. Linoleic and Linolenic Acids: Linoleic acid, omega-6, and linolnic acid, omega-3, are both polyunsaturated fats that help regulate cholesterol in the body, and help promote the level of good cholesterol, HDL, in infants. More about the benefits of good fats are discussed in the next section. 
  4.  Healthy Fats: Healthy fats, including monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, –commonly found in lean meats, nuts, and plant-based foods–facilitate infants' cell growth and development. Healthy fats–such as those contained in salmon, avocados, and nut oils–also promote HDL in the body, "good cholesterol," which also reduces the level of LDL in the body (the "bad cholesterol" which contributes to heart disease). 
  5.  Prebiotics and probiotics: Prebiotics and probiotics are integral to building infants' digestive health. Prebiotics promote the development of healthy gut bacteria which stimulates regular and thorough bowel movements, along with softer stools. Prebiotics have also been demonstrated to fortify immune health. Probiotics to refers the myriad strains of live microorganisms, namely bacteria, that have been proven to aid in optimizing bacterial balance with the digestive tract. Baby formulas with prebiotics and probiotics have been shown to contain levels matching those in breast milk
  6. Anti-infection compounds: Anti-infection compounds are a host of enzymes, growth factors, antibodies, and hormones. These critical compounds advance your baby's natural immunity. Breast milk includes many of these include Lactoferrin, Secretory IgA, Lysozyme, and Bifidus factor, all of which play pivotal roles in a baby's gastrointestinal tract. An adequate amount of anti-infection compounds in an infant's diet can defend against potentially virulent microbes that can lead to E.Coli, along with salmonella and coliform infections. Infants may also avert the development of allergies with regular consumption of anti-infection compounds. These anti-infection compounds might also promote the growth of healthful Lactobacillus bacteria. 
  7. Vitamins D and K: Breast milk is ideal. However, two vitamins that are not adequately provided by breast milk are vitamins D and K. Vitamin D is instrumental to the development of strong bones, and vitamin K is essential to vital blood-clotting on the event of injury. You want to look for baby formulas that are fortified with both vitamin D and vitamin K. 
Even with all these recommendations, please be mindful of any allergies your baby may have, and we implore you to take notice of any adverse reactions your baby may have to formula. If there are serious effects after ingesting formula–diarrhea, anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction), excessive crying, etc.--please stop feeding your baby rge formula, and immediately seek medical attention. In recognizing the ingredients that are vital for your baby's healthy development, we can ensure every drop leads to growth. 


Kennedy, C.R. (2015). The flavor rundown: Natural vs. artificial flavors. 

Nomayo, A., Schwiertz, A., Rossi, R., Timme, K., Foster, J., Zelenka, R., Tvrdik, J., & Jochum, F. (2020). Infant formula with cow's milk fat and prebiotics affects intestinal flora, but not the incidence of infections during infancy in a double-blind randomized controlled trial. Molecular and Cellular Pediatrics, 7(6). 

Panoff, L. (2020). Baby formula ingredients: The definitive guide to what to look for and what you need to avoid. 

Silver, N. (2019). Baby probiotics: Are they safe? 

Vehrs, S. (2019). Three problems with baby formula ingredients and what to do about it. 

Zhu, B., Zheng, S., Lin, K., Xu, X., Lv, L., Zhao, Z., & Shao, J. (2021). Effects of infant formula supplemented with prebiotics and OPO on infancy fecal microbiota: A pilot randomized clinical trial. Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology, 29(11).


Kathryn Rialt

Date 7/3/2022

Seminal Wellness

Date 7/3/2022 5:05:49 PM

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