Sunflower Lecithin the healthier alternative to Soy Lecithin
Soy lecithin is a common ingredient found in many processed foods, medications, and dietary supplements. It is derived from soybeans and is used as an emulsifier to help blend ingredients together. While generally considered safe, there are concerns about its use in baby formula.
What is Soy Lecithin?
Soy lecithin is a by-product of soybean processing, and is commonly used as an emulsifier, to blend ingredients that would normally separate, such as oil and water. It is also used as a dietary supplement and is sometimes added to medications to improve absorption.
It is made by extracting oil from soybeans, which is then mixed with water and centrifuged to remove the oil. The remaining material is a mixture of phospholipids, glycolipids, and other compounds, which is then dried and turned into a powder.
Why is Soy Lecithin Used in Baby Formula?
Soy lecithin is used in baby formula to help disperse fat and prevent clumping. Baby formula contains a blend of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, which are essential for growth and development. However, these ingredients can separate over time, leading to clumping and an inconsistent texture. Soy lecithin helps to keep the ingredients blended together, which makes the formula easier to mix and feed to babies.
Is Soy Lecithin Safe for Babies?
There are concerns about its use in baby formula, particularly because soy is a common allergen, and babies who are allergic to soy may react to the soy lecithin in their formula. Soy allergies are more common in infants than in adults, and symptoms can range from mild to severe, including hives, itching, vomiting, and anaphylaxis.
Additionally soy lecithin may contain trace amounts of soy protein, which could also trigger an allergic reaction in babies with soy allergies. While most of the proteins are removed during the processing of soy lecithin, small amounts remain.
Sunflower Lecithin the healthy alternative
It is important to note that soy lecithin is not an essential ingredient in baby formula. Sunflower lecithin is a healthier alternative, though as it is more costly to manufacture, it is not commonly found in US baby formula.
Sunflower lecithin is made from sunflower seeds, which are more expensive to source and process than soybean oil. Also, soy lecithin is produced on a much larger scale than sunflower lecithin, so the cost of sunflower lecithin as an ingredient is higher.
If you are concerned about the use of soy lecithin in US manufactured baby formula, nearly all of the EU organic formulas on our site use sunflower lecithin as the emulsifier instead of soy lecithin.
Our best sellers such as Dutch HiPP stages 1 and 2, the Holle Cow and Goat range, Jovie and our vegan formulas do not contain soy lecithin.
While soy lecithin is considered safe by the FDA, there are still potential risks associated with its use in baby formula. Infants with soy allergies may react to soy lecithin, and there are concerns about exposure to GM soybeans and the potential health effects of consuming soy lecithin.