When breastfeeding – as well as during pregnancy – the nutrient requirements of women can be increased. As a rule, the increased need can be covered by a healthy and balanced diet. In some cases, it makes sense to use dietary supplements.
With the following information you will find out which vitamins and minerals are particularly important when breastfeeding and how you can prevent a deficiency.
Important nutrients when breastfeeding
In order for the baby to develop well, it needs nutrients that it can get from breast milk. As a mother, you should make sure that you are getting enough vitamins and minerals.
Breastfeeding mothers typically use more calories to produce milk. This means that the breastfeeding woman has an increased need for energy and nutrients. This is important to keep in mind when it comes to nutrition. Also, the breastfeeding woman may need more protein. Breastfeeding mothers should ensure an adequate supply of minerals and vitamins so that the health and development of the baby cannot be endangered.
The following nutrients are particularly important:
Omega-3 fatty acids can be particularly important for brain development. In addition, the fatty acids DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) can play a relevant role in many bodily functions. The organism cannot produce these fatty acids itself and must absorb this nutrient through food. By the way, you should already pay attention to an adequate supply of omega-3 during pregnancy.
Fish contains a lot of omega-3, especially oily fish like herring, mackerel and salmon. To meet the daily requirement of 200 milligrams of DHA, breastfeeding mothers should eat fish at least once a week.
Those who do not like this food can take a dietary supplement. Taking a dietary supplement is also advisable if the breastfeeding woman is vegan or vegetarian. In this case, the consumer center recommends taking 200 milligrams of DHA per day in capsules with microalgae or fish oil.
According to the recommendations of the DGE (German Society for Nutrition), women need 180 to 200 micrograms of iodine every day. During breastfeeding, the increased requirement should be covered with around 260 micrograms daily, since the mother gives her child iodine through her milk. "Healthy in life" - a Network of the Federal Agency for Agriculture and Food – recommends nursing mothers to use 100 micrograms of iodized salt per day and to take additional iodine as a supplement. An oversupply is not to be feared, since the body excretes too much iodine through the kidneys.
The body absorbs vitamin D through the skin. For this, however, the skin must be exposed to the sun for a certain period of time. In Germany, the supply of vitamin D is insufficient for many people, which is why breastfeeding supplements in particular help to meet their needs. Breast milk contains only a small amount of vitamin D. The child may need a separate preparation.
This nutrient is part of red blood cells and is important for metabolism and the immune system. Meat and vegetables are good sources of iron, although availability may be higher if the iron comes from animal sources. In the case of an iron deficiency and breastfeeding women who eat vegan or vegetarian food, preparations are recommended.
Calcium is a mineral found primarily in teeth and bones. The baby needs this nutrient to form stable and healthy bones and teeth. Calcium is found, for example, in milk and dairy products and some vegetables. Breastfeeding women typically need around 1.000 milligrams daily. As a rule, the calcium requirement is covered by a balanced diet. However, if there is a deficiency in the mother, this should be compensated for with a dietary supplement.
Other important nutrients during breastfeeding
- Folic acid (BXNUMX) is mainly found in liver, spinach and broccoli. It is involved in cell division, metabolism and growth processes.
- Vitamin B6 and Vitamin B12 may be particularly relevant to nerve development. Good suppliers are eggs, dairy products and meat.
- Vitamin C is found in fruit and is needed for a strong immune system.
- Selenium can have an antioxidant effect and play a role in thyroid metabolism. There is a lot of selenium in meat, fish, eggs and cabbage.
Advice before taking any dietary supplement
Before breastfeeding mothers take any of the preparations, they should raise the issue with their doctor. For example, the consumer center advises against combination preparations, since some ingredients could lead to an overdose. In 2017, the Hamburg Consumer Advice Center checked 14 products aimed at breastfeeding and pregnant women. The amount of ingredients in some products was above the recommendations of the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment.
Supplements can often be necessary and useful as a supplement to a balanced diet if there is a deficiency of zinc, vitamin B12 or other nutrients. Before a dietary supplement is taken, a doctor should check whether there is a nutrient deficiency. Breastfeeding women who are on a vegan or vegetarian diet often have to take supplements to cover their increased needs.
Incidentally, a study indicates that probiotics risk of mastitis (breast infection during lactation).
Otherwise you can contact us if you have any questions about the content of the preparations. Contact our service team and let us advise you.