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Understanding Formula Ingredients

Understanding Formula Ingredients



If you have to use formula, it is important to choose the safest and healthiest formula for your baby. We’ve mentioned that formula should be organic, because of things like GMOs, pesticides, antibiotics, and hormones. However, organic is not the only thing you should look for in a formula, as even some organic formulas can contain undesirable ingredients. The following list of ingredients will help you know what to look for.




Though soy is often recommended if a baby is allergic to or intolerant of dairy products, it should be avoided if possible. There are many problems with soy and soy ingredients.

-GMOs: Most non-organic soy products contain GMO soy.

-Synthetic l-methionine: Because soy is a complete protein, it lacks some of the essential amino acids needed in the human diet. In both organic and non-organic soy formulas a synthetic form of the amino acid l-methionine is added to provide that essential nutrient. However, synthetic l-methionine is produced using toxic air pollutants such as hydrogen cyanide. The process is prohibited by European organic standards.

-Soy lecithin: Soy lecithin is an emulsifier used in many processed products including infant formulas and soy or nut milks. Soy lecithin is processed with hexane, a chemical solvent and neurotoxin. The FDA has set “safe” limits to the amount of hexane that can remain in foods; however, many people report upset stomach and other sensitivities after ingesting soy lecithin containing products.

-Phytoestrogens: Though you won’t see this listed as a direct ingredient, all soy containing foods also contain phytoestrogens, which occurs naturally in soybeans. Though the full effects of phytoestrogens are still unknown, physicians warn that they could have an adverse effect on estrogen levels in both males and females. This can be especially bad for infants and children, as they are still developing.



Carrageenan is a thickener used in many foods. This seaweed derived additive is found in many products, including formula. Carrageenan has been shown to cause intestinal inflammation and even colon tumors. Carrageenan has been outlawed in Europe.     



These are two healthy fats that are found in breastmilk. The DHA and ARA in breastmilk have been shown to aid in brain development. Formula companies, in their quest to emulate breastmilk, have added them to their formulas. However, the DHA and ARA they use are extracted from algae and fungus using the neurotoxic solvent hexane. As with soy lecithin, some of the hexane remains behind in the final product. This is even true in formulas that are labeled organic. Add to this that many studies have found that DHA and ARA from algae and fungus seem to have no discernable benefit, and you have no reason to give these ingredients to your baby.


Palm oil:

Because breastmilk contains palmitic acid, formula companies have tried to emulate it by adding in palm oil. Palm oil is a very poor substitute for the palmitic acid in breastmilk. Palm oil reacts with calcium in the infants gut and turns soapy. This causes poor absorption of nutrients and hard stools, as well as a decrease in bone density. To add insult to injury, most palm oil is not sustainably produced and is a big offender when it comes to environmental issues.


Synthetic Preservatives:

Because formulas contain fats, many of them have added synthetic preservatives to keep the fat from spoiling. One such preservative is ascorbic palmitate. Synthetic preservatives can cause multiple sensitivities in you baby.  To avoid these, choose a formula that does not contain DHA and ARA as preservatives are commonly added to protect these fats.


 Synthetic nutrients:

In an attempt to make formulas seem healthier, many companies add synthetic nutrients to their formulas. As with most synthetic additives, these nutrients are all processed with chemicals which make their way into the formula.


-l-carnitine: l-carnitine is a synthetic nutrient which has been banned by the National Organic Standards Board because of concerns over carcinogenic effects.

- Taurine: Taurine is a synthetic nutrient processed with sulfuric acid which is carcinogenic.

- Lutein: Lutein is a synthetic derivative of marigolds which is extracted using the neurotoxin hexane.

 -Lycopene: Synthetic lycopene is produced with neurotoxic toluene, a benzene derivative.

-Nucleotides: nucleotides are produced from chemically treated yeast.


It can be a real challenge to find a good formula for your baby. Avoiding the ingredients found in this list will give you a good start.


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