Consider Taking These Supplements While Breastfeeding
LAlthough a healthy diet is the most important factor when it comes to nutrition during breastfeeding, there’s no question that taking certain supplements can help replenish your stores of certain vitamins and minerals.
There are a number of reasons why new moms may be low in certain nutrients, including not eating the right foods and the increased energy demands of breast milk production, along with looking after your baby.
Taking supplements can help boost your intake of important nutrients. But it’s important to be weary when choosing supplements, since many contain herbs and other additives that aren’t safe for breastfeeding moms.
We’ve rounded up a list of important supplements for breastfeeding moms and promoting postpartum recovery in general. Always be sure to purchase products from reputable brands that undergo testing by third-party organizations, like NSF or USP.
A multivitamin can be a great choice for increasing your intake of important vitamins and minerals.
It’s common for women to be deficient in vitamins and minerals after delivery and research shows that deficiencies don’t discriminate, affecting moms in both high- and low-income settings.
For this reason, it may be a good idea to pop a daily multivitamin, especially if you don’t think you’re getting enough vitamins and minerals through your diet alone. (With so much to think about as a new parent, who is?)
Vitamin B-12 is a super important water-soluble vitamin that is essential for your baby’s health, as well as your own health, during breastfeeding.
Plus, many women — especially those following mostly plant-based diets, those who’ve had gastric bypass surgery, and women who are on certain medications (such as acid reflux drugs) are already at an increased risk of having low B-12 levels.
If you fit into one of these categories, or if you feel that you don’t eat enough B-12 rich foods like fish, meat, poultry, eggs, and fortified foods, then taking a B-complex or B-12 supplement is a good idea.
Keep in mind that a most high-quality multivitamin and prenatal vitamins contain enough B-12 to cover your needs.
Omega-3 fats are all the rage nowadays, and for good reason. These fats, naturally found in fatty fish and algae, play essential roles in both maternal and fetal health.
For example, the omega-3 fat DHA is critical for the development of your baby’s nervous system, skin, and eyes. Plus, concentration of this important fat in breast milk largely depends on your intake levels.
What’s more, research shows that babies who are fed breast milk with high levels of DHA have better vision and neurodevelopment outcomes.
Because breast milk concentrations of omega-3s reflect your intake of these important fats, it’s essential that you get enough. We recommend that nursing mothers take in 250 to 375 mg daily of DHA plus EPA, another important omega-3 fat.
Although eating 8 to 12 ounces of fish, especially fatty fish like salmon and sardines, can help you reach the recommended intake levels Trusted Source, taking a fish oil or krill oil supplement is a convenient way to cover your daily needs.
Vitamin D is only found in a few foods, like fatty fish, fish liver oils, and fortified products. Your body can also produce it from sunlight exposure, though it depends on many factors, like skin color and where you live.
Research shows that it plays many important roles in your body and is essential for immune function and bone health.
Vitamin D is usually only present in low amounts in breast milk, especially when sun exposure is limited.
Therefore, supplementing with 400 IU of vitamin D per day is recommended for breast-fed babies and babies consuming less than 1 liter of formula per day, starting during the first few days of life and continuing until they are 12 months of age, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
According to research, supplementing with 6,400 IU daily can help supply your baby with adequate amounts of vitamin D through breast milk alone. Interestingly, this amount is much higher than the current recommended vitamin D intake of 600 IU for breastfeeding moms.
Vitamin D deficiency is extremely common amongst breastfeeding women. And deficiency can lead to negative health outcomes, including an increased riskTrusted Source of postpartum depression. That’s why supplementing with this vitamin is recommended.
Ask your healthcare provider for specific dosing recommendations based on your current vitamin D levels.
Breastfeeding moms may benefit from taking multivitamins, vitamin B-12, omega-3s, and vitamin D supplements.