Maltodextrin in Baby Formula
As you’ve checked out the various baby formula brands that are out there, you’ve probably come across an ingredient called “maltodextrin.” In a world where almost every brand of baby formula contains toxic ingredients that might harm your child’s long-term health and well-being, it’s natural to be skeptical of any substance with a chemical-sounding name. Maltodextrin, however, appears to be a safe baby food ingredient, and a lot of the claims about maltodextrin that you can find on the internet just aren’t correct.
What Is Maltodextrin?
Whether you’re trying to find the perfect formula for your newborn or you’re on the hunt for a nutrient-rich formula for your toddler, it’s highly likely that you’ll come across maltodextrin more than once as you inspect ingredients lists. This ingredient is quite commonly used in the baby food and formula industry, and it serves a very simple purpose.
Maltodextrin is one of the simplest and most digestible carbohydrates. Unlike lactose, which is the main type of carb found in human breast milk, maltodextrin is not sweet. Despite this simple fact, many sources on the internet claim that maltodextrin is used as a sweetener in baby formula, which simply isn’t true.
In fact, maltodextrin makes baby formula less sweet. Without adding maltodextrin into the mix, it would be necessary to use more lactose. Since lactose is naturally sweet, excessive quantities of this ingredient can rapidly make babies and children dependent on sugar. Coming across maltodextrin in the ingredients list of a formula product you’re considering isn’t a sign that the formula is excessively sweet; on the contrary, formula products with maltodextrin are often less sweet than products that don’t contain this simple carb.
The other main complaint levied against maltodextrin in baby formula is that this ingredient is commonly used as a filler. This may be the case for some American baby formula brands, but here at Tastyganics, we only partner with formula brands that use maltodextrin for its intended purpose. If maltodextrin takes up too large a portion of a baby formula product, it’s possible that this ingredient might crowd out other nutrients that your little one needs to stay healthy. Used in proper quantities, however, maltodextrin helps nourish your baby while keeping formula less sweet.
Is Maltodextrin Safe in Baby Formula?
Maltodextrin is a starch derivative. It is usually derived from corn starch, but you can also make maltodextrin with rice starch and other similar substances. While maltodextrin is considered to be a complex carb, it has one of the simplest molecular chains of any carbohydrate, which makes it easy for your little one to consume this substance.
The quality of maltodextrin depends on the processes that were used to make it. Maltodextrin derived from genetically-modified corn that has been sprayed with toxic fertilizers, for instance, might be harmful to your baby. If your maltodextrin is derived from non-GMO corn that’s been produced with organic cultivation practices, however, it’s much less likely to contain any toxins.
There’s nothing inherently toxic about maltodextrin. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved maltodextrin as a food additive, and it’s widely considered to be a safe type of complex carbohydrate. Among all the surprisingly complex ingredients you’ll come across in baby formula, maltodextrin is actually one of the simplest to understand, and all you really need to know about maltodextrin is that is a non-synthetic substance that has the potential to be non-toxic when it is produced correctly.
The case of maltodextrin is a great example of how important proper organic certification is when you’re trying to find the perfect formula for your baby. In the United States, our organic certification processes are woefully lax; you’d be amazed at the toxic ingredients that you can find in supposedly “organic” American-made baby formula products.
Across the pond, however, the European Union has put much stricter organic standards in place, and EU regulations on corn production, for instance, prevent organic corn from containing any toxic substances. Therefore, European corn-derived maltodextrin is far less likely to contain any toxic ingredients than American organic maltodextrin.
Potential Dangers of Maltodextrin
With all that said, maltodextrin isn’t necessarily 100% safe. A 2012 study, for instance, indicates that consuming maltodextrin might alter your gut flora and make you more susceptible to conditions like Crohn’s disease. The authors of this study point out that maltodextrin might suppress probiotic growth, which can harm your digestive functions. The results of this study, however, have not been duplicated, so it’s not clear if these dangers actually exist.
What’s abundantly clear, however, is that maltodextrin has a relatively high glycemic index. Despite the fact that this substance is not notably sweet, it can still contribute to the development of conditions like diabetes, so it’s important to consume maltodextrin with caution. It’s unlikely that the levels of maltodextrin present in formula products we offer here at Tastyganics, however, are high enough to cause any potential diabetes worries.
Maltodextrin in Baby Formula - The Bottom Line
Maltodextrin in baby formula is more of a benefit than it is a detractor. Replicating the taste, texture, and nutrient content of human breast milk is no easy feat, and many companies go overboard with lactose in an attempt to mimic breast milk as closely as possible. Doing so, however, can put your child at risk of sugar dependency and diabetes, which is why maltodextrin is such a useful ingredient.
In general, there’s nothing to worry about when you come across maltodextrin in baby formula sold here at Tastyganics. All the products we offer here come from brands that have been thoroughly vetted by the EU organic agency, and many of our brands have also been rigorously inspected by independent organic certification groups like Demeter. Don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions if you’re still curious about this unique ingredient.
- Jennifer Akiyama