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Breast Milk Composition Versus Formula Ingredients

Breast Milk Composition Versus Formula Ingredients

In the debate between breast milk and infant formula, I stand firmly on the side of breast milk, and, more specifically, I am most in favor of exclusive breastfeeding over feeding pumped breast milk from a bottle. One of the reasons that I agree with the “breast is best” argument is that so many of the components of breast milk can never be replicated in the ingredients in formula. Infant formula contains just a handful of ingredients while the components of breast milk number in the hundreds.

First, because manufacturers have been seeking to make artificial infant milk more than real human milk, breast milk and formula do share some components in common. Both breast milk and infant formula contain the following ingredients:

  • Water
  • Lactose (carbohydrate)
  • Folic acid (vitamin)
  • Riboflavin (vitamin)
  • Biotin (vitamin)
  • Vitamin D3 (vitamin)
  • Vitamin B12 (vitamin)
  • Taurine (amino acid)

Infant Formula in BottlesHowever, formula also contains the following ingredients not found in breast milk:

  • Corn maltodextrin (carbohydrate)
  • Partially hydrolyzed reduced minerals whey protein concentrate (protein)
  • Palm olein (fat)
  • Soybean oil (fat)
  • Coconut oil (fat)
  • High oleic safflower oil or sunflower oil (fat)
  • M. alpina oil or fungal DHA (fat)
  • C.cohnii oil or algal ARA (fat)
  • Potassium citrate (mineral)
  • Potassium phosphate (mineral)
  • Calcium chloride (mineral)
  • Tricalcium phosphate (mineral)
  • Sodium citrate (mineral)
  • Magnesium chloride (mineral)
  • Ferrous sulphate (mineral)
  • Zinc sulphate (mineral)
  • Sodium chloride (mineral)
  • Copper sulphate (mineral)
  • Potassium iodide (mineral)
  • Manganese sulphate (mineral)
  • Sodium selenite (mineral)
  • Sodium ascorbate (vitamin)
  • Inositol (vitamin)
  • Choline bitartrate (vitamin)
  • Alpha-tocopheryl acetate (vitamin)
  • Niacinamide (vitamin)
  • Calcium pantothenate (vitamin)
  • Vitamin A acetate (vitamin)
  • Pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin)
  • Thiamine mononitrate (vitamin)
  • Phylloquinone (vitamin)
  • Trypsin (enzyme)
  • L-carnitine (amino acid)
  • Cytidine 5-monophosphate (nucleotide)
  • Disodium uridine 5-monophosphate (nucleotide)
  • Adenosine 5-monophosphate (nucleotide)
  • Disodium guanosine 5-monophosphate (nucleotide)
  • Soy lecithin

Additionally, formula can include unwanted ingredients such as bacteria. Powdered infant formulas are not sterile and can be colonized by bacterial. Ready-to-feed formula is sterile but costs more and is not provided by organizations like WIC.

Comparatively, human breast milk consists of the following components not found in current infant formulas:

  • Oligosaccharides (carbohydrate)
  • Lactic acid (carboxylic acid, alpha hydroxy acid)
  • Human alpha-lactalbumin (protein, whey protein, alpha-lactalbumin)
  • Lactoferrin (protein, whey protein)
  • Casein (protein)
  • Serum albumin (protein)
  • Creatine (non-protein nitrogen)
  • Creatinine (non-protein nitrogen)
  • Urea (non-protein nitrogen)
  • Uric acid (non-protein nitrogen)
  • HMGF I (peptide)
  • HMGF II (peptide)
  • HMGF III (peptide)
  • Cholecystokinin (peptide)
  • β-endorphins (peptide)
  • Parathyroid hormone (peptide)
  • Parathyroid hormone-related peptide (peptide)
  • β-defensin-1 (peptide)
  • Calcitonin (peptide)
  • Gastrin (peptide)
  • Motilin (peptide)
  • Bombesin (peptide)
  • Neurotensin (peptide)
  • Somatostatin (peptide)
  • Alanine (amino acid)
  • Arginine (amino acid)
  • Aspartate (amino acid)
  • Clycine (amino acid)
  • Cystine (amino acid)
  • Glutamate (amino acid)
  • Histidine (amino acid)
  • Isoleucine (amino acid)
  • Leucine (amino acid)
  • Lycine (amino acid)
  • Methionine (amino acid)
  • Phenylalanine (amino acid)
  • Proline (amino acid)
  • Serine (amino acid)
  • Taurine (amino acid)
  • Theronine (amino acid)
  • Tryptophan (amino acid)
  • Tyrosine (amino acid)
  • Valine (amino acid)
  • Carnitine (amino acid)
  • 5’-Adenosine monophosphate (nucleotide)
  • 3’:5’-Cyclic adenosine monophosphate (nucleotide)
  • 5’-Cytidine monophosphate (nucleotide)
  • Cytidine diphosphate choline (nucleotide)
  • Guanosine diphosphate (nucleotide)
  • Guanosine diphosphate – mannose (nucleotide)
  • 3’- Uridine monophosphate (nucleotide)
  • 5’-Uridine monophosphate (nucleotide)
  • Uridine diphosphate (nucleotide)
  • Uridine diphosphate hexose (nucleotide)
  • Uridine diphosphate-N-acetyl-hexosamine (nucleotide)
  • Uridine diphosphoglucuronic acid (nucleotide)
  • Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) (fat, triglyceride, long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid)
  • Arachidonic acid (AHA) (fat, triglyceride, long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid)
  • Linoleic acid (fat, triglyceride, long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid)
  • Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) (fat, triglyceride, long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid)
  • Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) (fat, triglyceride, long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid)
  • Conjugated linoleic acid or rumenic acid (fat, triglyceride, long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid)
  • Free fatty acids (fat, triglyceride)
  • Oleic acid (fat, triglyceride, monounsaturated fatty acids)
  • Palmitoleic acid (fat, triglyceride, monounsaturated fatty acids)
  • Heptadecenoic acid (fat, triglyceride, monounsaturated fatty acids)
  • Stearic (fat, triglyceride, saturated fatty acid)
  • Palmitic acid (fat, triglyceride, saturated fatty acid)
  • Lauric acid (fat, triglyceride, saturated fatty acid)
  • Myristic acid (fat, triglyceride, saturated fatty acid)
  • Phosphatidylcholine (fat, phospholipid)
  • Phosphatidylethanolamine (fat, phospholipid)
  • Phosphatidylinositol (fat, phospholipid)
  • Lysophosphatidylcholine (fat, phospholipid)
  • Lysophosphatidylethanolamine (fat, phospholipid)
  • Plasmalogens (fat, phospholipid)
  • Sphingomyelin (fat, sphingolipid)
  • GM1 (fat, sphingolipid, ganglioside)
  • GM2 (fat, sphingolipid, ganglioside)
  • GM3 (fat, sphingolipid, ganglioside)
  • Glucosylceramide (fat, sphingolipid)
  • Glycosphingolipids (fat, sphingolipid)
  • Galactosylceramide (fat, sphingolipid)
  • Lactosylceramide (fat, sphingolipid)
  • Globotriaosylceramide (fat, sphingolipid)
  • Globoside (fat, sphingolipid)
  • Squalene (fat, sterol)
  • Lanosterol (fat, sterol)
  • Dimethylsterol (fat, sterol)
  • Methosterol (fat, sterol)
  • Lathosterol (fat, sterol)
  • Desmosterol (fat, sterol)
  • Triacylglycerol (fat, sterol)
  • Cholesterol (fat, sterol)
  • 7-dehydrocholesterol (fat, sterol)
  • Stigma-and campesterol (fat, sterol)
  • 7-ketocholesterol (fat, sterol)
  • Sitosterol (fat, sterol)
  • β-lathosterol (fat, sterol)
  • Vitamin D metabolites (fat, sterol)
  • Steroid hormones (fat, sterol)
  • Vitamin A (vitamin)
  • Beta carotene (vitamin)
  • Vitamin B6 (vitamin)
  • Vitamin B8 or inositol (vitamin)
  • Vitamin C (vitamin)
  • Vitamin D (vitamin)
  • Vitamin E a-Tocopherol (vitamin)
  • Vitamin K (vitamin)
  • Thiamine (vitamin)
  • Niacin (vitamin)
  • Pantothenic acid (vitamin)
  • Calcium (mineral)
  • Sodium (mineral)
  • Potassium (mineral)
  • Iron (mineral)
  • Zinc (mineral)
  • Chloride (mineral)
  • Phosphorus (mineral)
  • Magnesium (mineral)
  • Copper (mineral)
  • Manganese (mineral)
  • Iodine (mineral)
  • Selenium (mineral)
  • Choline (mineral)
  • Sulpher (mineral)
  • Chromium (mineral)
  • Cobalt (mineral)
  • Fluorine (mineral)
  • Nickel (mineral)
  • Molybdenum (metal)
  • interleukin-1β (growth factor, cytokine)
  • IL-2 (growth factor, cytokine)
  • IL-4 (growth factor, cytokine)
  • IL-6 (growth factor, cytokine)
  • IL-8 (growth factor, cytokine)
  • IL-10 (growth factor, cytokine)
  • Granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (growth factor, cytokine)
  • Macrophage-colony stimulating factor (growth factor, cytokine)
  • Platelet derived growth factors (growth factor, cytokine)
  • Vascular endothelial growth factor (growth factor, cytokine)
  • Hepatocyte growth factor -α (growth factor, cytokine)
  • HGF-β (growth factor, cytokine)
  • Tumor necrosis factor-α (growth factor, cytokine)
  • Interferon-γ (growth factor, cytokine)
  • Epithelial growth factor (EGF) (growth factor, cytokine)
  • Transforming growth factor-α (TGF-α) (growth factor, cytokine)
  • TGF β1 (growth factor, cytokine)
  • TGF-β2 (growth factor, cytokine)
  • Insulin-like growth factor-I or somatomedin C (growth factor, cytokine)
  • Insulin-like growth factor-II (growth factor, cytokine)
  • Nerve growth factor (growth factor, cytokine)
  • Erythropoietin (growth factor, cytokine)
  • Cortisol (hormone)
  • Triiodothyronine (hormone)
  • Thyroxine (hormone)
  • Thyroid stimulating hormone or thyrotropin (hormone)
  • Thyroid releasing hormone (hormone)
  • Prolactin (hormone)
  • Oxytocin (hormone)
  • Insulin (hormone)
  • Corticosterone (hormone)
  • Thrombopoietin (hormone)
  • Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (hormone)
  • GRH (hormone)
  • Leptin (hormone)
  • Ghrelin (hormone)
  • Adiponectin (hormone)
  • Feedback inhibitor of lactation (hormone)
  • PG-E1 (hormone, eicosanoid, prostaglandin)
  • PG-E2 (hormone, eicosanoid, prostaglandin)
  • PG-F2 (hormone, eicosanoid, prostaglandin)
  • Leukotrienes (hormone, eicosanoid)
  • Thromboxanes (hormone, eicosanoid)
  • Prostacyclins (hormone, eicosanoid)
  • Amylase (enzyme)
  • Arysulfatase (enzyme)
  • Catalase (enzyme)
  • Histaminase (enzyme)
  • Lipase (enzyme)
  • Lysozyme (enzyme)
  • PAF-acetylhydrolase (enzyme)
  • Phosphatase (enzyme)
  • Xanthine oxidase (enzyme)
  • A-1-antitrypsin (antiprotease)
  • A-1-antichymotrypsin (antiprotease)
  • Basophils (antimicrobial factor, leukocytes, phagocytes)
  • Neutrophils (antimicrobial factor, leukocytes, phagocytes)
  • Eoisinophils (antimicrobial factor, leukocytes, phagocytes)
  • Macrophages (antimicrobial factor, leukocytes)
  • B lymphocytes (antimicrobial factor, leukocytes, lymphocytes)
  • T lymphocytes (antimicrobial factor, leukocytes, lymphocytes)
  • sIgA or secretory immunoglobulin A (antimicrobial factor)
  • IgA2 (antimicrobial factor)
  • IgG (antimicrobial factor)
  • IgD (antimicrobial factor)
  • IgM (antimicrobial factor)
  • IgE (antimicrobial factor)
  • Complement C1 (antimicrobial factor)
  • Complement C2 (antimicrobial factor)
  • Complement C3 (antimicrobial factor)
  • Complement C4 (antimicrobial factor)
  • Complement C5 (antimicrobial factor)
  • Complement C6 (antimicrobial factor)
  • Complement C7 (antimicrobial factor)
  • Complement C8 (antimicrobial factor)
  • Complement C9 (antimicrobial factor)
  • Mucins (antimicrobial factor, glycoprotein)
  • Lactadherin (antimicrobial factor, glycoprotein)
  • Alpha-lactoglobulin (antimicrobial factor)
  • Alpha-2 macroglobulin (antimicrobial factor)
  • Lewis antigens (antimicrobial factor)
  • Ribonuclease (antimicrobial factor)
  • Haemagglutinin inhibitors (antimicrobial factor)
  • Bifidus Factor (antimicrobial factor)
  • Lactoferrin (antimicrobial factor)
  • Lactoperoxidase (antimicrobial factor)
  • B12 binding protein (antimicrobial factor)
  • Fibronectin (antimicrobial factor)

More important than the differences in the components of breast milk and the ingredients in formula, however, is that breast milk is alive and changing. Formula consists of dead ingredients derived from other sources (which is why the vitamins and minerals in formula are largely different from the naturally-occurring vitamins and minerals in breast milk). Furthermore, breast milk changes to meet the needs of a baby. If a baby is low in some nutrient, then the milk changes to meet those needs. When a baby is sick, the breasts produce a milk that helps the baby fight the illness. Breast milk truly is an amazing substance. No wonder some breastfeeding advocates refer to breast milk as liquid gold!

What's in Breast Milk Poster

References

Breast milk contains over 100 ingredients not possible in formula: http://www.inquisitr.com/280112/breast-milk-contains-over-100-ingredients-not-possible-in-formula/
What’s in breast milk poster: http://bcbabyfriendly.ca/whatsinbreastmilkposter.pdf

Image Credits

Breast Milk Composition Versus Formula Ingredients: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Enfamil_-_infant_formula.jpg
Infant Formula in Bottles: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Enfamil_-_infant_formula.jpg
What’s in Breast Milk Poster: http://bcbabyfriendly.ca/whatsinbreastmilkposter.pdf

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