Calcium to phosphorus ratio, essential elements and vitamin D content of infant foods in the UK: Possible implications for bone health

Matern Child Nutr. 2017 Jul;13(3):e12368. doi: 10.1111/mcn.12368. Epub 2016 Sep 9.


Adequate intake of calcium and phosphorus in the appropriate ratio of 1-2:1 (Ca:P), in addition to magnesium and vitamin D, is vital for bone health and development of infants. In this feasibility study, the ratio of Ca:P in conjunction with vitamin D and other essential elements (Cu, Fe, K, Mg, Na, and Zn) in a range of commercial infant food products in the UK was investigated. The elemental analysis was carried out using inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry, and vitamin D levels were determined using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The quantitative data were further evaluated, based on a standardised menu, to measure the total daily intake of an infant aged 7-12 months against the Reference Nutrient Intake. The results from the study show that the Ca:P ratio of the infant's total dietary intake was within the recommended range at 1.49:1. However, the level of intake for each of the nutrients analyzed, with the exception of sodium, was found to be above the Reference Nutrient Intake, which warrants further investigation in relation to both micronutrient interactions and in situations where the intake of fortified infant formula milk is compromised. Finally, as the study is the first to include consumption of infant snack products, the level of total calorie intake was also calculated in order to assess the total daily estimated energy intake; the results indicate that energy intakes exceed recommendations by 42%, which may have implications for obesity.

Keywords: bone health; calcium:phosphorus ratio; commercial infant foods; essential elements; infant snacks; reference nutrient intake; vitamin D.

MeSH terms

  • Bone Development*
  • Bone and Bones / metabolism
  • Calcium / administration & dosage
  • Calcium / blood*
  • Diet
  • Food Analysis
  • Food, Fortified*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Food / analysis*
  • Magnesium / administration & dosage
  • Magnesium / blood
  • Phosphorus / administration & dosage
  • Phosphorus / blood*
  • Recommended Dietary Allowances
  • Sodium / administration & dosage
  • Sodium / blood
  • Trace Elements / analysis
  • United Kingdom
  • Vitamin D / administration & dosage
  • Vitamin D / blood*


  • Trace Elements
  • Vitamin D
  • Phosphorus
  • Sodium
  • Magnesium
  • Calcium