Analysis of essential elements in selected infant food formulations sold in Nairobi County, Kenya
Ropkoi, Joel K.
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Apart from breast milk, infant food formulations have a special role to play in the diets of infants because they are the major sources of nutrients. The neonatal period is one of the most critical with respect to nutrition and specifically essential elements among others. Essential elements prevent diseases such as rickets and anemia. Both calcium and iron are needed to prevent these disorders. Copper and zinc are important as cofactors of major enzymes involved in the synthesis of collagen. Potassium is a very important mineral for the proper functioning of the cells, tissues and organs in the body. Chromium is essential for protection against cardiovascular diseases. There is need therefore to analyse infant food formulations for levels of essential elements. Selection of the infant food formulations was done through random sampling. The commercial milk and cereal based formulations selected in this study were analysed for levels of essential elements, K, Mg, Ca Fe, Zn, Cu, Mn and Cr. The analysis was done by Flame Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy (FAAS). Analysis of variance and students' t-test were used to compare the levels of essential elements in infant formulations for 0-6 months and 7-12 months age groups. Mean levels (mgll ~Og) of essential elements in 0-6 months' infant formulations varied with the highest being K (425.03±4.67) and Cr (0.03±0.01), the lowest. The mean levels (mgll OOg) contained in the cereal based infant formulations for 7-12 months age group ranged between K (394.53±2.29) and Cu (0.31±0.48). To allow an assessment of infant exposures from the essential elements in the formulations, daily intake was calculated on the basis of information specified by the manufacturers on the labels. The results show that the infant milk and cereal formula samples analysed contain adequate amounts of essential elements with respect to WHO/UNICEF recommendations. This data can be used by dietitians to advise the public on the elemental concentrations of some of the infant food formulations available in Nairobi market.