When walking down the supermarket aisle looking for infant formula there are already a plethora of choices to pick from with even more brands coming out onto the market. The gold standard to make a good formula is and will always be, how closely it resembles breast milk since breastfeeding is the recommended option for your baby. However should you choose formula, even if just for supplementing then selecting an infant formula that closely patterns breastmilk is important.
Infant formula companies have to follow strict FDA regulations of nutritional composition. Fats, vitamins like A and E and minerals such as calcium and iron are just some of the many essential nutrients added to build a formula that meets FDA requirements for infant feeding for the baby’s first 12 months. With all the research on breast milk and the many ingredients found in mother’s milk, formula companies are adding a variety of ingredients above the necessary requirement for infant nutrition in order to mimic breast milk. Here is a quick look at the ingredients that, I think, add the most to formulas at the present time.
One of the newest ingredients being added to formulas is milk fat globule membrane or MFGM. The benefits of this molecule is mounting as more research is being done. This is a component found in breast milk that contains over 100 different proteins. The studies coming out on MFGM are showing that is has antibacterial properties, helps with the GI cellular integrity, decrease GI inflammation, protects the baby’s stomach against viral attack and inhibits cancer cell growth to name just a few of the known benefits with more studies on the way. So you may want to look for MFGM or milk fat globular membrane in your baby’s formula.
Next ingredients I like to look for are omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids like DHA and ARA, respectively. These fatty acids are supplied by diet and found mainly in fatty fish; they are not found naturally in ingredients traditionally used for making infant formula so they are added. DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) is found abundantly throughout the brain and in the photoreceptors of the eye. It is important for brain and eye development, which occurs in the first 2 years of life.
Another ingredient I like to see in formula is Lutein, which is a carotenoid found in certain foods. The body cannot synthesize this chemical so it needs to be ingested or supplied in supplement form. Lutein concentrates heavily in the eye and filters out blue light to help maintain eye health. Lutein helps to reduce free radicals that can support cell integrity. Lutein can be found in Earth’s Best Organic® Diary and Sensitivity® Infant Formulas.
The next added ingredients I like to see are prebiotic fructooligosaccharides. The gut microorganisms constitute a large portion of the immune system and fructooligoasaccharides help nourish the bacterial environment of the baby’s GI tract. Human milk oligosaccharides are found in breast milk and have been shown to help support newborn’s intestine. Ingredients to look for include galacto-oligosaccharides, fructo-oligosaccharides and polydextrose.
Probiotics are live microorganisms that live within our digestive system to help regulate a host of biological functions, such as immune functioning and overall health of the baby. Ingredients to look for include Lactobacillus reuteri, Bifidobacerium lactis.
Lactoferrin, found in human milk, is an iron transport protein allowing for iron absorption in the body. Cow’s milk formula contains much smaller amounts than breast milk. Look for it in your baby’s formula.
This is just the beginning of a new era of baby formulas with added ingredients that are found in breast milk. Always remember, breast milk is the choice for infant feeding but should you choose formula feeding for your baby, then look to the expanding options of formulas such as Earth’s Best Organic® infant formulas.