Not Interchangeable: Breast Milk and Formula

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When we reduce food to its micro and macronutrients, we misapprehend the bridge that it represents between us and our environments. In the case of breast milk, this first food is also first immunityfirst stress education, and first bacterial load. Unfortunately, even at the most basic level of vitamins, fats, and minerals, breast milk and formula are not substantially equivalent, and, of course, could never be, in the context of highly individualized and tailored passage of nutrients from mother to baby.

new analysis quantified notable differences including:

  • Formula contains greater alpha and gamma tocopherol (vitamin E) than breast milk
  • Formula contains greater vitamin C
  • Despite these higher levels, fats in formula are more susceptible to oxidation after one day of refrigerated storage

It’s not surprising that we have not been able to capture the dynamic “ingredients” of breast milk using defatted bovine milk and vegetable oils. These ingredients are only the tip of the iceberg as we can only find what we know to look for.  Consider lactation support, dietary optimization to minimize thyroid dysfunction and insulin resistance, and milk sharing/bank if breastfeeding is proving challenging (as it often will since we have lost intergenerational support and education!).

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About Dr. Kelly Brogan

KELLY BROGAN, MD, is a holistic psychiatrist, author of the New York Times Bestselling book, A Mind of Your OwnOwn Your Self, the children’s book, A Time For Rain, and co-editor of the landmark textbook Integrative Therapies for Depression. She is the founder of the online healing program Vital Mind Reset, and the membership community, Vital Life Project. She completed her psychiatric training and fellowship at NYU Medical Center after graduating from Cornell University Medical College, and has a B.S. from M.I.T. in Systems Neuroscience. She is specialized in a root-cause resolution approach to psychiatric syndromes and symptoms. Learn More