Glossary Of Terms

For many adults interested in baby, infant and toddler nutrition, knowing what is actually contained in a can of infant formula/children’s milk powders and what it does, is important. Here is an explanation of every ingredient listed on our Nutritional Information Panel:

Protein- Whey and Casein

Protein is an essential component of breast milk– it is the building block for growth. The two main types of protein in milk: whey and casein have complementary functions. Whey is lighter and more soluble so it is easy to digest while casein is heavier and is slower to digest. The ratio of these is very important for your child’s ability to digest properly.

Whey and Casein

Whey and casein are different types of proteins, which are both present in breast milk and also in cows’ milk. For the first few months, the proteins in breast milk are predominantly whey proteins and these are easier to digest than casein proteins. Casein proteins take longer to digest and may be more satisfying for hungrier babies.

Whey Casein Ratio

This is to more closely mimic the composition of breast milk and to transition babies to cow’s milk composition. Whey protein dominant stage 1 formula helps facilitate more gentle digestion for baby’s immature digestive systems. Casein proteins may be more satisfying for hungrier babies.

Vitamins & Minerals

There are 13 vitamins and 16+ minerals that the human body needs to grow and develop. Whilst all these are present in breast milk, some of these need to be added to processed cows milk to create an acceptable and comparable standard for infant formula.

Vitamins

Key micro-nutrients, include:

  • Vitamin A for development of a baby’s visual function.
  • Vitamin D3 for good bone health. Associated with deficiencies where there is a lack of sunlight.
  • Vitamin E is seen as an antioxidant and helps with metabolism development.
  • Vitamin K1 plays an important part in helping blood clot. Vitamin K deficiency will affect 1 in 10,000 babies.
  • Vitamin B1 or Thiamine is involved in many body functions, including nervous system and muscle functioning, electrolyte balances, several enzyme processes, the breakdown of carbohydrates, and the production of hydrochloric acid, which is important in food digestion. The body stores very little thiamine, and depletion can occur within 14 days.
  • Vitamin B2 or Riboflavin is involved in important metabolic processes and is needed for normal cell function, growth, and energy production.
  • Vitamin B6 or Pyridoxine is needed to make certain brain chemicals (serotonin and norepinephrine), as well as for myelin formation. Myelin is made of fatty substances and proteins and forms a layer around cells, including those in the brain and spinal cord. It’s presence is associated with the timing and speed of signals along the bodies axons (signal pathways between neurons).
  • Vitamin B12 helps maintain healthy nerve cells and red blood cells as well as make DNA. Because the body can store several years’ supply of B12, deficiency is very rare.
  • Vitamin C is necessary for the body to form collagen in bones, cartilage, muscles, and blood vessels, as well as to help the absorption of iron. Vitamin C may also help prevent iron deficiency by increasing the absorption of iron.
  • Vitamin B3 or Niacin helps the nervous and digestive systems function properly, maintains healthy skin, and helps the body convert food to energy.
  • Vitamin B9 or Folic Acid is needed to make red blood cells by working together with vitamin B12 to ensure proper iron function in the body.
  • Vitamin B5 or Pantothenic Acid is a component of coenzyme A (CoA), needed for many important chemical reactions in the cells. It plays a role in the breakdown of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, as well as the synthesis of hormones and cholesterol.
  • Vitamin B7 or Biotin is important in the proper functioning of certain enzymes, and deficiencies may lead to many complications involving the skin, intestinal tract, and nervous system. A US FDA requirement for non milk based formulas.
  • Sodium works with potassium to conduct electrical impulses on cell membranes and allows for the proper function of the nerves. It also helps the kidneys regulate the amount of fluid in the body.
  • Beta-carotene is used to enhance the immune system to fight diseases and general sickness.
  • Lutein is very important to eye health and development acting as an antioxidant to protect the retina. It also regulates the damage that light may cause to the retina in young infants.
  • Vitamin B3 or Niacin helps the nervous and digestive systems function properly, maintains healthy skin, and helps the body convert food to energy.
  • Folic Acid or Vitamin B9 is needed to make red blood cells by working together with vitamin B12 to ensure proper iron function in the body.
  • Pantothenic Acid or Vitamin B5 is a component of coenzyme A (CoA), needed for many important chemical reactions in the cells. It plays a role in the breakdown of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, as well as the synthesis of hormones and cholesterol.
  • Biotin or Vitamin B7 is important for the proper functioning of certain enzymes. Deficiencies may lead to many complications involving the skin, intestinal tract, and nervous system. A US FDA requirement for non-milk based formulas.

Minerals

  • Sodium works with potassium to conduct electrical impulses on cell membranes and allows for the proper function of the nerves. It also helps the kidneys regulate the amount of fluid in the body.
  • Phosphorous is needed for the formation of bones and teeth, and helps promote healthy bones and soft tissues.
  • Potassium works with sodium to conduct electrical impulses on cell membranes for functioning nerves.
  • Magnesium is helpful in assisting motor function in early childhood.
  • Calcium is critical for bone development and is the most abundant mineral in our body, with 99% of it stored in our bones and teeth. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics the RDI of a baby from 6-12months is 600mg/d for bottle fed infants.
  • Iron is needed to form hemoglobin, which carries oxygen via red blood cells throughout the body and is needed for cell and tissue growth. Iron helps support the immune system, and energy metabolism, as well as cognitive function.
  • Zinc is critical for your child’s immune system to protect it from infection, and help to repair tissue and keep skin healthy. It also helps the body to absorb other important nutrients
  • Iodine is vital for thyroid development.
  • Selenium is good for developing the immune system and has strong antioxidant properties.
  • Copper is a component of may enzymes and helps with the absorption and metabolism of iron. Copper deficiency may retard growth.
  • Chloride helps maintain fluid balances.
  • Manganese helps with the formation of connective tissue, bones and blood clotting.

Omega 3-DHA (Docosahexaeonic Acid), Omega 6-AA (Arachidonic Acid) & EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid)

Long Chain Polyunsaturated (LCP) Fatty Acids

LCP’s are found in oily fish such as sardines, tuna, salmon, etc. When digested the body can produce DHA and AA, which are essential fats or lipids that helps development of a variety of body functions.

Although AA and DHA are generally associated with oily fish they can be produced from other fats in the diet, but a very young babies ability to produce these LCP’s is very limited, so an extra source of LCP’s found in infant formula is beneficial.

According to the World Association of Perinatal Medicine and the Child Health Foundation, “levels of ARA should at least equal those of added DHA’, to provide an interactive balance and the greatest benefit.

Omega 3 - DHA

DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid) or LCPUFA n-3 or commonly known as Omega 3 fatty acid

Studies suggest that the addition of Omega 3-DHA may help the structural component of brain and eye development as well as improve cognitive and visual function. DHA makes up as much as 97 % of the omega-3 fatty acids in the brain and 93% in the retina.

The presence of DHA, according to some studies, is believed to assist retinal or vision development in pre-term babies. As LCP’s are a major importance in the last 3 months of pregnancy for visual and brain development.

Omega 6 - AA

ARA and AA (Arachidonic Acid) or LCPUFA n-6 or commonly known as Omega 6 fatty acid. Omega 6-AA plays an important role in maintaining the central nervous system.The same as DHA, this nutrient is seen as essential for a baby’s brain, heart and retinal development.
Fish is a good source of both AA and DHA, with meat and eggs particularly rich in AA.

  • Linoleic (essential fatty) Acid or LA
    Found naturally in sunflower, safflower and sesame oils. The body can process these oils to make DHA fatty acids. It is universally accepted that infants need a higher intake of fats to help their rapid growth and brain development.
  • Alpha Linolenic (essential fatty) Acid or ALA
    Found naturally in flax seeds, walnuts and leafy vegetables. The body can process these oils to make ARA fatty acids.

EPA – Eicosapentaenoic Acid

EPA is an omega-3 fatty acid, a polyunsaturated fatty acid, found in human breast milk. Its clinical significance mostly involve its ability to lower inflammation. Several studies report an additional reduction in scores on symptom scales used to assess the severity of symptoms, when additional EPA is taken.

In a study published in 2011, EPA was shown to be significantly more effective than placebo for treating hyperactivity and attention symptoms, both together and separately.

Carbohydrate

These simple carbohydrates are also referred to as sugars. A series of sugars is called oligosaccharides. These chains will combine to form molecules. Carb’s are seen as a source of energy for a growing baby. This energy is needed to help the digestive system process the proteins contained in the cows milk.
Unlike fats and proteins there is generally no upper limit on the concentrations of carbohydrates per serving.

Prebiotics – GOS (galacto-oligosaccharides and FOS (fructo-oligosaccharides)

Non-digestible carbohydrates that are naturally found in breast milk in the proportion 90% GOS 10% FOS at 0.8g per 100ml. Human breast milk oligosaccharides are recognised as the key in boosting a babies immune system which is often associated with less allergies in breast fed babies.
These oligosaccharides are chains of sugars (or simple carbohydrates ). But these type of sugars/carbohydrates are very difficult to digest unlike lactose or sucrose. As such, they then become a source of fuel for the beneficial bacteria (probiotics) contained in the large intestine. In its natural state, these prebiotic carbohydrates are found in such food as whole-grains, bananas, onions, garlic, tomatoes, etc.

GOS = short chain galacto oligosaccharides

GOS prebiotics encourage digestive health by boosting the natural level of good bacteria (probiotics such as bifidobacteria) in your child’s gut. They may also decrease the level of harmful bacteria and help the absorption of essential nutrients, as well as promoting softer, more regular bowel motions.

FOS = long chain fructo oligosaccharides. Also referred to as inulin.

FOS protects against intestinal infection and helps strengthen the intestinal immune system. Also assists the flow of nutrients including B vitamins and short chain fatty acids.

Probiotics –Bifidobacterium Lactis

Probiotic cultures support development of a strong digestive and immune system. This good bacteria builds up the mucosal immune system, which then acts as a defense against harmful bacteria entering via the digestive tract.

Dekker et al 2009 Clinical studies in infants and young children in New Zealand and Prof Sunil Sazawal, John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, John Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA Clinical studies in young children in India and Indonesia.

Choline

Helps the body breakdown fats and transport it away from the liver. It is also believed to help develop nerve impulses and so is seen as beneficial to brain and memory development.

L-Carnitine

L-carnitine is an amino acid (a building block for proteins) that is naturally produced in the body. Used to breakdown fats to help energy levels it is important for heart and brain function, muscle movement, and many other body processes.

Helps the digestive system function properly and maintains intestinal health acting to boost the level of good bacteria or probiotics often found in the digestive tract.

Inositol

Builds the capacity for cells to communicate with each other so is seen as critical for nerve, muscle and brain co-ordination and development. Also seen as helping the liver breakdown fats and cholesterol.

Taurine

Taurine is regarded as a free/beta-amino acid and is thought to be “conditionally essential” for brain development and to help with fat absorption from the gastrointestinal tract and ensure that the liver deals with waste products efficiently.
It is also believed to help with nerve protection of the eyes and ears plus has antioxidant and detoxifying properties that will assist the liver. Found in high concentrations in a babies developing brain.

Nucleotides

Important building blocks of Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) and Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA). They occur at high levels in breast milk and infants benefit from a proper supply of nucleotides due to their rapid cell growth at this time. They assist bone development, boost healthy bacteria to assist the immune system and are seen as vital for the development and repair of tissues.