Tuesday, October 2, 2012

What's In... Enfamil Poly-Vi-Sol?

Now that Goose is virtually weaned, I've been thinking she may need a multi-vitamin to cover any bases we may be missing with her diet.  I almost bought a package of the very popular Poly-Vi-Sol but stopped short when I saw what crappy ingredients are lurking behind the A-list of vitamins.
First, let me highlight the positives:  One daily dropper of Enfamil Poly-Vi-Sol contains 100% of the daily value for infants of Vitamins A, C, D, E, Thiamin (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Niacin (B3) and Vitamin B6.  It also contains 67% of the daily value of Iron.  According to the manufacturer, Poly-Vi-Sol is "gluten free and does not contain ingredients derived from the most common food allergies: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy or wheat." Agreeable win.

But then we read on to the list of "Other Ingredients." In it a few items in the middle jump out: "Artificial Flavor and Color Caramel" and "Polysorbate 80."

Due to the placement of the commas and the "and" in this ingredient list, I'm forced to believe the "Color Caramel" is just as artificial as the "Flavor."  Ergo, we have a real mystery concoction since artificial colors and flavors are not well regulated by any governing body.  They could be made out of ANYTHING.  And the manufacturer doesn't have to divulge the secret ingredients.  

I've talked about Polysorbate 80 before, because it's a very popular food additive and is found in those not-quite-dairy, not-quite-frozen foods products like Cool Whip and pudding cups.  But foods aren't the only products filled with Polysorbate 80.   It is used in nutritives, creams, ointments, lotions, and multiple medical preparations (e.g., vitamin oils, vaccines, and anticancer agents) and as an additive in tablets.  It's a chemical concoction that, while ubiquitous in its application, is rather mysterious in its true nature.  It also can be dangerous.  Here's proof:

In a 2005 German study entitled, "Polysorbate 80 in Medical Products and Nonimmunologic Anaphylactoid Reactions," the researchers indeed found that Polysorbate 80 can cause severe nonimmunologic anaphylactoid reactions:

To identify polysorbate 80 (generally believed to be an inert vehicle) as an inductor of a severe anaphylactoid reaction.

Skin prick testing, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, IgE immunoblotting, and flow cytometric detection of basophil activation were performed in controls and in a patient with a medical history of anaphylactic shock due to intravenous administration of a multivitamin product during pregnancy.

Polysorbate 80 was identified as the causative agent for the anaphylactoid reaction of nonimmunologic origin in the patient. Polysorbate specific IgE antibodies were not identified in enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and immunoblot examinations, confirming the nonimmunologic nature of the anaphylactoid reaction.

Polysorbate 80 is a ubiquitously used solubilizing agent that can cause severe nonimmunologic anaphylactoid reactions.

What's a nonimmunologic anaphylactoid reaction, you say?  Well... it's "an adverse reaction that mimics an allergic reaction but is produced by toxic rather than immune release of potent vasoactive and smooth muscle reactive mediators." ~Auclkand Allergy Clinic

While I know not everyone will go into anaphalactic shock after consuming a dropper of vitamins, I am concerned about the constant inundation of this potentially hazardous ingredient in our daily lives.  A little in the vitamins, a little in the pudding, a little in the sour cream.  Little by little, it's adding up in our systems and manifesting how?

The bottom line is that I'm not pleased that a product that is supposed to be GOOD for my baby contains artificial ingredients that bear enough evidence to prove they are NOT.
It also frustrates me that while the Enfamil website nicely describes all of its active ingredients in helpful detail, it conveniently neglects to address its "other ingredients."
But, good thing we have the U.S. government looking our for us and telling us what we are consuming!  The U.S. National Library of Medicine provides a massive database defining ingredients on medication and dietary supplement labels.  So when I searched for "Polysorbate-80" (and "Polysorbate 80", and "Polysorbate" just in case they refer to it as something else), a "ubiquitous" ingredient in medications and dietary supplements, I find this many results:


Goose eats well.  Really well.  She eats a rainbow of vegetables, fruits, nuts, starches and minerals.  I boost her daily fresh veggie juices and fruit smoothies with chloraphyll, spirulina, maca, chia and hemp.  She consumes seaweed and fresh coconut water.  She is not, however, going to consume Enfamil Poly-Vi-Sol. 


  1. what multi would you recommend?

    1. There are a few baby multi-vit drops out there that are free of artificial colors and flavors, like this one from Nature's Plus:

    2. I just looked up the ingredient panel on this product and in "other ingredients" it lists Polysorbate 80!! :-(


    3. You are so right. GAH! Sorry for the lame suggestion. I just did another search online and I'm not seeing ANY baby multi-vit drops that don't contain Polysorbate 80. :(

      I now stand firmer in my decision to not feed either of my babies these vitamin drops and just stick to my guns, getting them nutrition through organic foods.

  2. Thanks for posting this - my wife and I have been trying to determine whether to give this to our 14 month old twin girls. When I was about to make the purchase a few weeks ago the same info jumped out at me and made me do some research to determine if there were alternatives. Unfortunately, I found none. One of my twins has eating challenges since birth and is in occupational therapy for it, so it is essential that she gets additional nutrients now that the formula is done and because she doesn't eat enough solid foods to get what she needs. Do you have any other suggestions that might be helpful to us in our situation? Thanks so much!

    1. What I turned to when I wanted to be sure that my girls were getting enough nutrition each day was a meal replacement powder like Garden of Life Raw Meal Vanilla (http://www.amazon.com/Garden-Life-Organic-Meal-Vanilla/dp/B007S6Y74O/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1403275534&sr=8-2&keywords=garden+of+life+raw+vanilla) or Vega One (http://www.amazon.com/Vega-One-Shake-French-Vanilla/dp/B0096DZ5B6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1403275591&sr=8-1&keywords=vega+vanilla). Does your daughter drink smoothies? If so, mixing a scoop of meal replacement powder with milk and fruit tastes good and fills in most of the nutritional gaps.

  3. Child Life has a multi vitamin and mineral liquid supplement that doesn't contain polysorbate 80. Vitacost carries it.

    1. Thanks for the recommendation. It even has natural flavors! I just checked the nutritional facts for this product (http://www.vitacost.com/childlife-multi-vitamin-and-mineral) and it DOES contain Potassium Sorbate as a stabilizer and I can't tell if it's better or worse than Polysorbate 80. Something else I need to research...


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