When you check the ingredients list on the back of your little ones’ baby formula, palm oil is most likely on the list. In many food goods, as well as many beauty products, palm oil is a common ingredient. The use and consumption of palm oil has lately been debated in newspapers and magazines often. We certainly got quite some concerned questions from parents about the palm oil present in the formulas we sell. The question out there: Is palm oil safe/healthy for a growing baby? What about the environmental impact? And why do manufactorers use palm oil in baby formulas?
The formulas from HiPP and Holle are produced with the purpose to create a natural and organic product that is as close to breastmilk as possible. It is made with ingredients that can provide a similar composition of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, and minerals. Roughly 50% of the calories that can be found in both breastmilk and formula come from fat. This fat functions as an energy source and also helps with the absorption of vitamins and minerals.
Infant formulas typically incorporate a blend of vegetable oils as their primary source of fatty acids. Palm, sunflower, safflower, and rapeseed oil are the most common vegetable oils used in baby formula, although coconut and soy oil are also used. The fatty acids in breastmilk are determined by the diet of the mother. Babies are naturally able to digest a wide range of fatty acids and can even tolerate a slight change of the types of fatty acids from day-to-day. The most prevalent fatty acids in breast milk include oleic acid, palmitic acid, linoleic acid, and stearic acid.
Palm oil is a good source of palmitic acid, which accounts for approximately a quarter of the fatty acid content of breast milk. Palm oil is also an excellent source of vitamin A and vitamin E. This is the reason why pam oil is used in so many formulas. Manufacturers around the entire world include palm oil as a main ingredient in their baby formula.
The main concern about the use of palm oil as a fat source is that it may decrease calcium absorption. The palmitic acid from palm oil is not absorbed as well as palmitic acid from breast milk. The palmitic acid from palm oil can end up “floating” in a baby’s intestines, where it binds with calcium molecules. This is not harmful or dangerous, but simply indicates that a certain amount of palmitic acid and calcium will not be absorbed. The undigested calcium and palmitic acid is eliminated from the body via a normal bowel movement. The decrease of calcium absorbed is compensated by an increase in calcium present in formula, so that babies are able to absorb all the calcium they need to grow strong bones.
Palm oil is perfectly safe for babies, it is used as a key ingredient in the healthiest organic formulas on the market by manufacturers such as HiPP and Holle. Research has also shown that prebiotics and probiotics are both beneficial for calcium absorption. Prebiotic fibers are a key ingredient in all HiPP formulas, and probiotics are included in all HiPP formulas.
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