The macronutrients in infant formula are carbohydrates, fat and protein.

What Are the Macronutrients in Infant Formula?

by Sharon H. Bolling

Carbohydrates, fat and protein are the macronutrients everybody needs. Infant formula, which is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, is composed of appropriate levels of these macronutrients to provide the energy for rapid physical growth and cognitive development during the first year of a baby's life.

1. Carbohydrate Content

Adequate levels of the right kinds of carbohydrates provide essential fuel for a growing body and mind. Most infant formulas, unless specifically designed for special needs, use lactose from cow's milk for the bulk of their carbohydrates. Formulas typically have 10 to 12 grams of carbohydrates and 100 calories per 5-ounce serving. Since each gram of carbohydrates provides around 4 calories, each 100-calorie serving of formula is about 40 to 48 percent carbohydrates, making it very similar to the levels found in breast milk.

2. Fat Proportions

Infants need about 31 grams of fat each day during the first year of life, according to formula manufacturer Enfamil. Most formulas contain a little over 5 grams of fat per 5-ounce serving, giving infants the amount they need when they consume 30 ounces of formula. Not only does fat provide energy, but it aids in the absorption of vitamins A, D, E and K and helps the brain and eyes develop normally during your baby's first year.

3. Protein Structure

Protein is an important macronutrient responsible for building muscles and organs, making antibodies and hormones and maintaining fluid balance. Infants need between 9 and 11 grams of protein daily for adequate growth and development. Formulas contain between 2 and 3 grams of protein per 5-ounce serving, providing babies with sufficient levels when you follow the feeding guidelines recommended by practitioners.

4. Unbalanced Macronutrients

Too much or too little nutrition can create health risks for a child. When choosing when and how to feed your infant, you can monitor her macronutrient intake to make sure your baby has appropriate levels. A lack of nutrients can cause deficiency or metabolism syndromes to develop, while an excess of macronutrients can lead to obesity and other related health risks, according to the online Merck Manual for Health Care Professionals. Since the composition of formulas is regulated by the FDA, parents who follow the feeding recommendations of their pediatrician can be assured that their infant is getting the right levels of carbohydrates, fat and protein.

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