The Mercola website has announced that his team is working to produce “the finest infant formula on the market.“
An excerpt from Dr. Mercola’s article announcing this development states:
“…my team has now been working on an infant formula for an entire year. We still have about another year to go, but once we’re done we should be able to offer the best commercial infant formula available in the US.”
I must admit, that when I first got wind of this news, I was puzzled. As a Mom who breastfed her first two children for 2 years each and her youngest child for 3 1/2 years, I am definitely in full support of the “breast is best” mentality.
However, I have a very strong practical streak, which is why I also very much support a safe, healthy homemade milk based or hypoallergenic nondairy baby formula when a Mom adopts or finds herself unable to breastfeed for health reasons.
It is a very imperfect world, after all, and the best situation of a well nourished Mom who is willing and able to breastfeed is not always possible in the final analysis.
Let’s take this practical line of thought a step further. Suppose a nonbreastfeeding Mom is simply unwilling to take the time and effort to source the quality ingredients required to make the homemade baby formula and insists on buying commercial formula of some kind.
In that case, there is currently no brand of commercial baby formula on the market which qualifies as acceptable in the remotest sense of the word. Even Earth’s Best organic formula is completely unacceptable due to high temperature processing, use of rancid vegetable oils, nonfat milk powder and packaging in BPA laced cans.
With that in mind, Mercola’s commercial baby formula has the potential to fill a real void in the baby formula market if and only if he is able to produce a commercially available infant formula that includes:
- Low temperature dried, whole milk powder
- Coconut oil
- Non rancid, expeller pressed sunflower oil
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Non-industrialized cod liver oil or other natural source of vitamins A/D/K2
- Bifidobacterium Infantis (probiotic)
- Whole foods source of vitamin C such as acerola powder
- Whole food source of B vitamins such as low temp dried nutritional yeast
- Low temp dried beef gelatin
- Non BPA packaging
While such a formula would never come close to the perfection of breastmilk from a well nourished Mother or even the homemade dairy infant formula using quality, grassfed raw milk, such a commercial formula would certainly be a huge step forward in improving the disastrous quality of infant formulas on the market today. Goat milk formula or even camel milk formula is an option as well.
So, although I am skeptical, I am trying to think positively about this upcoming product release from Dr. Mercola especially since the ingredient list and processing methods have yet to be disclosed.
How do you feel about Dr. Mercola’s announcement? Do you feel that it could be an improvement over what is available commercially today or is this a step backward in the Real Food movement’s press for more Moms to be well nourished and to choose breastfeeding or, at the very least, the homemade baby formula?
Let’s wait and see what he comes up with!
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
Marta, you and your friend might enjoy reading these, in addition to the excellent posts on Sarah's blog:
As the completely overwhelmed mother of twin girls a year ago I would really liked to have had a better choice of formulas. I started breastfeeding but my milk did not come in for almost 2 weeks and my babies became dehydrated, didn't pee for 4 days and didn't poop for 5 until I started supplementing. Since I wasn't the one going out to buy the formula I just relied on the store brand soy based formula as my older kids couldn't tolerate cow's milk.
As it turns out, the twins didn't tolerate soy. Go figure. As hard as I tried to solely breastfeed my twins, it did not work out and I had to supplement. I was disheartened as I had no problem breastfeeding both of my older children.
The twins were term babies and perfectly healthy and born at home, but did not gain weight adequately without supplementation. And since I had little helpful support and was pretty much doing this on my own, there was no way I was going to be able to make my own formula, even if I had known about such a thing at the time.
I only started reading about Weston Price and real foods, etc in the past couple of months. I have an intermittant supply of raw goat's milk and at this point the girls are a year old so I am getting them off of "formula" and giving them real milk during the day. They only get formula at night because it is more convenient. We still nurse about twice a day but this is more for comfort than anything else.
When breastfeeding proponents talk about formula feeding as if the mothers who choose this path are lazy or self-centered, not willing to do the "best" for their child, uneducated, etc., it is demeaning and offensive. As a nurse and nurse practitioner who has worked with new mothers and in the neonatal ICU as well as being a mother of twins, I can say from personal and professional experience that although breastmilk is ultimately the best choice, it is just not always possible. And while making homemade formula is a wonderful substitute, this is not always practical or possible for many people. Most of us have (had in my case) no idea this is even an option. In fact, my own knowledge about homemade formula was that it was made with corn syrup, vitamins and evaporated milk back before commercial formula was available. And that didn't sound any better to me than powdered formula.
fortunately, I now know this is an option and I will certainly present this as such to my patients and any friends who may be making this decision. Perhaps our focus should be on educating people about the real variety of options for feeding their babies without judging them for their choices. Feeding babies is not generally a moral decision that needs to be judged. We all want what is best for our children. And as a kid who was raised on formula herself, I know that I lived through it very well , thank you!
Sarah & others, what would be a good substitute for coconut oil in a formula? My 1st grandson died 2 days after birth due to a genetic defect, a fatty oxidation disorder (FOD). He had a missing or defective gene to break down medium chain fatty acids. My granddaughter was born 6 weeks ago and does not have the FOD, although she is a carrier. Each child my son and his wife have has a 1 in 4 chance of having the full blown defect. For a person with this type of disorder, cononut oil is out completely. Supplementing with formula is required as the baby cannot go w/o food past 2 hours, and colostrum is not enough, as we learned with Ezekiel's passing. It is more complicated than I will explain here, but any suggestions you might be able to share would be helpful. While Abigail was in the hospital, Lydia (my DIL) had brought and used Earth's Best organic formula with her doctor's okay until the testing came back confirming that Abigail did not have the FOD. Next time it would be nice to have a homemade formula, but it would have to be w/o coconut oil or other medium chain fats. Thanks.
Anynymous: to answer your question, the oils used in formula (and nearly all processed foods) are rancid because of the horrible process used to produce them. These polyunsaturated oils are subjected to high heat, caustic refining, chemicals, bleaching, and deodorization because they smell so bad. All this even before they leave the factory, but they become even more rancid and toxic after they leave the refinery and are added to processed foods (most all contain them, including formula) or brought home in a bottle. These oils are unstable and simply opening a bottle at home usually increases rancidity. Cooking with them adds insult to injury by increasing the already high level of free radicals. Particularly bad ones, unstable and prone to rancidity, are canola, corn, cottonseed, soybean, safflower. It is possible to carefully source some like the sunflower oil mentioned here, and they must be fresh, expeller pressed, cold pressed, not subjected to the typical oil refinery process I summarized above. Have I left anything out, Sarah?
Great article. I have a 6 week old baby that I am breasfeeding. I have breastfed my other 2 for 2 years.
Could you post a blog about the best foods for a bresfeeding mom to eat, to produce quality milk?
Also, since you know a lot, I know a friend who is also breasfeeding but drinks a lot of soda (regular and diet), I've told her that this could affect her milk quality, but I am not sure how. Could you enlighten me (us) to know what are the possible side efffects of a poor diet (lots of soda)?.
Thanks a lot and keep up the good work.
I love your blog. It reminds me a lot how my mother ate back in Mexico, wholesome foods, home made cooking from scratch and full fat foods. She passed away but she was always healthy and used to eat a lot of broth with the chicken feet or beef broth with bones like you mentioned you made.
Of course it's a good thing. Reality is that there are many different instances when people need to use formula. It's good that there will be a better one available soon for those instances!
I'm not sure that he's going to have a large market-It sounds like it will be very expensive, but I don't know much about Mercola.
personally I would rather see someone in his position promoting milk banks and donation. In my area there is nowhere to donate extra milk-
i have a whole freezer full at home and no baby to give it to 🙁 I have even offered it to moms I know that have had breastfeeding issues, but no one wants it. It makes me sad.
just curious, why are the oils in formula rancid? On purpose?
I do think this formula could fill a void for those who must formula feed or supplement. Personally if I had to use formula, even if it cost much more, I'd be very relieved to see something like this available. Of course before resorting to that I agree that we should be promoting use of donated HUMAN milk (have used that myself and have helped several other mamas do so).
Also, I sense a slightly negative tone in reading that a formula feeding mom may be "simply unwilling to take the time" to make homemade formula. Ideally this would be possible, but not everyone can source raw milk and find and pay for the ingredients. I have had to jump through many hoops to get raw milk for my family and pay a lot of drive far out of my way with multiple kids int he car every week- not everyone, esp. those who may work full time or have lots of family responsibilities can do that.
Adoptive moms can induce lactation IF they take the time to do it.(http://www.drmomma.org/2010/04/induced-lactation.html)
IMO, we should be encouraging private breastmilk donations and feeding human babies human milk. I like your list of "must haves" but how much are these must haves going to cost. If a can of Mercola's formula is twice to three times as much as the formulas out there, there is no way that the poor and middle class families will be able to afford it, even if it is the best.
I have heard, in person, twice this week that breastfeeding is gross and the only think I can think is "How old are we, 12"? I have also heard this week that if the kid can walk, talk, and ask to nurse they are to big. Maybe we should be focusing on changing the perceptions of this society instead of working on the best artificial baby milk.
I think if he uses the right ingredients like you suggested, you're right, this will fill a void. I saw a lot of ppl on Facebook upset about this, but when I first read it in his email, I thought this would be a welcome product in the market–of course, depending on how he makes it. I was not outraged at all when I first read about this; I just hope he makes something good.
It is tough when you're out of breastmilk & don't want to use formula, and might not have all the ingredients for homemade on hand. What are you to do, short of hiring a wet nurse or begging another mama for some donated breastmilk?? I'm being a bit facetious here, but I think I'm raising a valid point.