Are you a breastfeeding mom, or are you going to be one soon? Are you worried that you and your baby may not be getting a healthy dose of essential vitamins? Have you thought about increasing your vitamin intake but are not sure which supplements you need to take and how they will help you?
If you can relate to any of these questions, consider reading our post. Here, we look at all the must to take essential vitamins while breastfeeding.
Benefits Of Taking Vitamins During Breastfeeding:
There are many benefits of taking vitamins while you are nursing your baby. Various water-soluble vitamins, such as B-complex vitamins and vitamin C boost your breast milk production and ensure that your baby gets enough nutrients. The prenatal vitamins that you took during pregnancy are not the same as when you are breastfeeding. Let your doctor review your vitamin supplements and decide which ones should you continue taking (1).
Does Taking Vitamins While Breastfeeding Help Your Infant?
While you are breastfeeding your baby, your little one will receive almost all her nutritional reserves from you. Hence, it is even more important that you take care of your vitamin needs. Also, as most of the nutrition directly comes from you, your baby is mostly safe against any deficiency. One deficiency that your baby may still suffer from is vitamin D deficiency.
Health Benefits And Common Food Sources Of Various Vitamins:
While you are breastfeeding, it is important that you speak to your doctor to know what you can and cannot have, as well as the dosage. Here are a few best vitamins for breastfeeding moms, but we recommend you check on them with your doctor before starting:
1. Vitamin B1 Or Thiamine:
Vitamin B1 or thiamine converts the food that you eat into energy (2).
- It helps your heart to perform the way it should and helps to metabolize the carbohydrate that helps produce energy.
- Thiamine is also important for the health of your brain and your nervous system.
- It also keeps your cardiovascular system in good health.
- Vitamin B1 can help ease stress and anxiety. It also helps prevent memory loss, both partial and long-term.
- It helps prevent diarrhea and other digestive problems, to improve your immunity as well as your appetite. B1 vitamin for breastfeeding also protects you from health conditions like cervical cancer and Alzheimer’s.
Food Sources: Nuts, seeds, liver, whole grains, dried beans, enriched grains.
2. Vitamin B2 Or Riboflavin:
Vitamin B2 or riboflavin converts the food you eat into energy and helps your body use other B vitamins properly (3).
- Vitamin B2is a water-soluble vitamin, which means that your body does not store it. You need to keep taking it on a regular basis to replenish the lost reserves.
- Riboflavin works along with other B vitamins in your body. It helps in your body’s growth and also helps in the production of red blood cells in your body.
- Riboflavin also helps to release energy by breaking down the carbohydrate from food sources.
Food Sources: Green leafy vegetables, fortified bread, eggs, fortified cereals, nuts, seeds, milk and other dairy products, legumes, lean meats, soybeans, mushrooms.
Exposure to light can cause vitamin B2 to get destroyed, so make sure you do not store such food items where there is direct exposure to light.
3. Vitamin B3 Or Niacin And Niacinamide:
Both Niacin and Niacinamide are vitamin B3 forms. Both forms have different uses and advantages (4). One of the essential vitamins for breastfeeding you should not skip.
- Niacin protects you from high cholesterol levels and helps to keep it under control.
- When combined with other forms of treatment, it can also help treat various other conditions.
- Some such health issues that can be treated with the help of vitamin B3 include headaches that are a result of a migraine, diarrhea that happens as a result of cholera, and dizziness.
[ Read: Symptoms Of Migraine While Breastfeeding ]
- Niacinamide helps treat diabetes and keeps its levels in check.
- It can also help to treat two types of skin conditions. The first condition is known as bullous pemphigoid (it results in rashes on the skin and blisters on the arms, legs as well as on the abdomen).
- The second condition is known as granuloma (it results in red colored rashes that may turn into ring shapes and are usually seen on the feet and hands).
Both Niacin And Niacinamide:
Together, both niacin and niacinamide help treat various types of conditions.
- The two forms of vitamins together are used to treat schizophrenia as well as Alzheimer’s.
- Niacin and niacinamide can together help to treat depression as well as edema, which is a condition in which there is excess water in the various cavities or the tissues in your body.
- Either of the two types of vitamins are also used to treat acne, loss of memory, reduce headaches that are caused due to premenstrual syndrome, keep blood pressure in check as well as help relax and reduce stress.
Food Sources: Peanut butter, whole grains, fish, enriched grains, mushrooms, meat, poultry.
4. Vitamin H Or Biotin:
Biotin or vitamin H or coenzyme R is a water-soluble vitamin that you need to take regularly, as the body does not produce it (5).
- Biotin helps to keep your hair in good condition and promote its health.
- It also helps to keep your nails strong and can prevent some other conditions such as diabetes, depression in the earlier stages as well as the occurrence of rashes in your baby.
- Biotin helps your body to keep your skin in good health and prevents the occurrence of rashes around your eyes, nose as well as your mouth.
- It can also help to prevent any tingling sensation in your arms and legs.
Food Sources: Soy protein, yogurt, sweet potatoes, peanuts, almonds, liver, eggs.
5. Vitamin B6 Or Pyridoxine:
Vitamin B6 or pyridoxine is another water-soluble vitamin that mixes in water and leaves your body when you urinate. To prevent a vitamin B6 deficiency, keep taking some supplements or natural food sources of Vitamin B6 regularly (6).
- Vitamin B6 protects your body from various diseases by creating antibodies.
- It also helps to make your nerves function properly.
- Vitamin B is also responsible for making hemoglobin that can eventually prevent anemia. Hemoglobin helps carry oxygen to your tissues from the red blood cells.
- It also helps to break down the protein from the various food sources of the same that you consume.
- Having the right amount of vitamin B6 in your body will also help to keep your glucose (blood sugar) levels in its normal levels.
Food Sources: Nuts, pistachios, lentils, fish, soy beans, bananas, potatoes, instant oatmeal, sunflower seeds, liver, 100 percent bran, avocado, dried beans.
6. Vitamin B12 Or Cobalamin:
Vitamin B12 or cobalamin is a water-soluble vitamin. Once your body has made use of the vitamin, it gets dissolved in the water and leaves your body in the form of urine. You have to regularly replenish the reserves of vitamin B12 in your body by eating natural food sources or supplements that contain the same, in order to prevent its deficiency. However, your body can store some amount of vitamin B12 for a long time in your liver (7).
- Just as the other vitamins in the B category, Vitamin B12 is also very important for your metabolism.
- It helps to make red blood cells and also helps to maintain the health and proper functioning of your central nervous system.
- In case you are deficient in this particular type of B vitamin, it can lead to anemia.
Food Sources: Eggs, fish, yogurt, milk, cheese, fortified soy products, poultry, fortified rice beverages, fortified soy beverages, meat, and liver.
7. Folate Or Folic Acid:
Folate, or folic acid, is another type of B vitamin (8).
- Folic acid helps your body to create new and healthy cells.
- It helps to maintain the health of your blood and a deficiency in folic acid can lead to anemia.
- Folic acid is also important in keeping your heart healthy.
- Folic acid, or folate, helps to prevent those cell changes in your body that may lead to cancer.
Food Sources: White rice, flour, corn meal, dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach as well as mustard greens, asparagus, orange, fortified orange juice, nuts, pasta, peas, kidney beans, black-eyed peas, peanuts, Brussels sprouts, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, soybeans, liver, wheat germ, chickpeas, dried beans, bread, beets, corn, broccoli.
8. Vitamin C:
Vitamin C is one of the most effective types of nutrients that you can have (9).
- Taking vitamin C regularly will help to prevent any damage to the different cells in your body.
- It will also help to reduce your risk of getting certain types of cancers, as well as reduce your chances of getting affected with heart disease and various other diseases.
- Having enough vitamin C in your diet will make your healing process get faster, including various wounds and cuts. It will also help you bounce back to health especially after your body has been through the wear and tear of pregnancy and childbirth.
- Vitamin C is also very important for maintaining the good health of your gums. It also helps to maintain the health of your immune system that protects you against various diseases.
- When you have the required amount of vitamin C in your body, it will help your body to absorb iron from the various food sources that are rich in it.
Food Sources: Grapefruit, orange, red pepper, green pepper, yellow pepper, tomatoes, kiwi, papaya, strawberries, dark green and leafy vegetables, broccoli.
[ Read: Best Foods For Breastfeeding Moms ]
9. Vitamin A Or Retinol:
Vitamin A is found in two different forms in different food sources. It occurs as preformed vitamin A or provitamin A. It is not water soluble vitamin but is a fat-soluble one, which means that it gets stored in the fatty tissues of your body. It is also known as retinol (10).
- Vitamin A helps to keep your skin and soft tissues healthy. It also helps to keep various parts of your system in good health and helps them function properly, including the tissues in your skeleton, your teeth as well as your mucous membranes.
- Vitamin A also helps to produce the pigments that are present in the retina of your eyes. Hence, it is also known as retinol.
- Including vitamin A during breastfeeding in your diet will also improve the health of your vision, and it will help you see better not just during the day but also in the night or other times when there are poor light and visibility.
- Preformed Vitamin A is found in various animal-based food sources such as poultry, meat, fish, dairy products, liver, whole milk, eggs, cream, cod, kidney.
- Provitamin A is found in various plant-based food sources such as various vegetables and fruits such as cantaloupe, apricots, winter squash, pink grapefruit, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, carrots, spinach, broccoli.
10. Vitamin D:
Vitamin D is also a type of fat-soluble vitamin that gets stored in the various fatty tissues in your body. While vitamin D is naturally found in various food sources as well as fortified food items, the most natural source of vitamin D is sunlight (11).
- Vitamin D helps your gut absorb calcium from other food sources. It also helps to maintain the required balance of serum calcium as well as phosphate in your body. Both calcium and phosphate help to make your bones form the way they should and also help to maintain their health. These minerals, calcium, and phosphorus, are also important for maintaining proper bone and tissue health.
- It helps to reduce inflammation in your body and is also important to maintain the good health of your immune system.
- D vitamins for breastfeeding mom also indirectly helps to maintain the health of your teeth and protects you against various infections and diseases.
Food Sources: Eggs, fish liver and fish oils, milk, organ meats, fortified margarine, fortified rice beverages, fortified soy beverages, some types of fish such as swordfish, salmon, tuna, sardines, Swiss cheese, fortified cereals, beef, fortified orange juice, cod liver oil.
11. Vitamin E:
Vitamin E is yet another vitamin that is fat soluble, which means that it gets stored in the many fatty tissues in your body (12).
- Vitamin E is a type of antioxidant that helps to protect the tissues in your body from damage from the substances that are known as free radicals. The free radicals usually cause damage to your various organs, tissues as well as cells.
- Vitamin E helps to maintain the health of your immune system and keeps it protected against any attack from bacteria or viruses.
- It also helps to form the red blood cells as well as helps your body to use the vitamin K that it absorbs from other food sources.
- The vitamin E that is present in your body helps to make your blood vessels wider and prevents the blood inside them against clotting.
- Vitamin E is also needed by the cells in your body to work with each other, which helps them do the work they are supposed to do.
Food Sources: Sunflower oil, corn oil, soybean oil, wheat germ oil, almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, fortified breakfast cereal, fortified fruit juice, fortified margarine or other fortified spreads, dark green and leafy vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, sunflower seeds, safflower oil, peanut butter, kiwi, tomato, mangoes.
[ Read: Eating Almonds While Breastfeeding ]
12. Vitamin K:
Vitamin K is also a type of fat-soluble vitamin that your body stores in the various fatty tissues. It is also known as the clotting vitamin as it helps promote blood clotting (13).
- Vitamin K essentially makes those proteins in your body that help the blood to clot and prevent any excessive bleeding.
- It also helps strengthen your bones and keeps them healthy.
Food Sources: Dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, collards, kale, beet greens, turnip, broccoli, soybeans, mustard greens, Swiss chard, romaine as well as green leaf lettuce, parsley, cabbage, cauliflower, eggs, meat, fish, liver, cereals.
4 Easy Recipes That Contain Sources Of Vitamin:
So, now that you know the essential breastfeeding vitamins you need to consume, let’s look at some easy recipes that contain most of these essential vitamins we talked about above.
1. Spinach And Apple Salad:
You Will Need:
- 3 tbsp. of olive oil
- 1 ½ tbsp. of cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp. of prepared mustard
- 1 tbsp. of sugar
- ½ tsp of salt
- ¼thtsp of freshly ground black pepper
- 1 apple halved and cored and thinly sliced
- ¼thcup red onion cut into thin strips
- ¾thlb of washed, de-stemmed and torn spinach leaves
- ½ cup of toasted pecans
- Add the oil, vinegar, sugar, mustard, pepper and salt and whisk it all together, till the mixture turns thick in consistency.
- Next, add the apples and the onions and give it a good toss. Make sure that the apples and the onions are covered properly in the dressing.
- Add the spinach on the top and next add a layer of the pecans.
- Give it a last toss just before you are about to eat it.
2. Sautéed Mushrooms:
You Will Need:
- 3 green onions with their tops chopped off
- ¼thcup of melted butter or fortified margarine
- 1 lb. of sliced fresh mushrooms
- ¼thtsp of salt
- ¼thtsp of freshly ground black pepper
- 1/8thtsp of garlic powder
- 2 tsp of Worcestershire sauce
- Add the butter in a pan and heat it just a little bit. Add the mushrooms and keep sautéing till they turn tender.
- Next, add all the remaining ingredients and cook them on low heat. Make sure to keep stirring so that nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan. Keep cooking till the mushrooms are completely tender.
3. Beet, Spinach And Cheese Sandwich:
You Will Need:
- 4 small beets
- 2 tbsp. of olive oil
- 2 bunches of trimmed spinach
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper as per taste
- 4 ounces of cheese
- ¼thcup of chopped raisins
- 4 split whole wheat rolls
- Heat your oven to 450 degrees F.
- Wrap the beets in an aluminum sheet foil and bake till they can be easily pierced using a knife.
- Let the beets cool and remove the skin with the help of paper towels. Once the skins are peeled, slice the beets into thin slices.
- In a big pan, heat the oil and add the spinach. Add the salt and pepper and keep cooking and tossing. Make sure to keep doing this till all the spinach turns wilted. Once the spinach is ready, add the vinegar.
- In the meanwhile, take a small bowl and add the cheese, the chopped raisins and about 1/4thtsp of pepper. Mix it all together.
- Take the sliced beets and the cooked spinach and place it on the whole wheat rolls. Top it up with the cheese mix you prepared.
4. Roasted Cheesy Sweet Potatoes:
You Will Need:
- 4 small lengthwise halved sweet potatoes
- 2 tbsp. of olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper as per taste
- ¾thcup of grated cheese
- Heat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- Rub oil and the salt and pepper on the potatoes. Bake them with the cut side facing downwards till they turn golden.
- Turn them over so that you can broil the potatoes. Add the cheese on top and broil them until the cheese melts and turns golden brown.
Vitamins are extremely important for your overall well-being, and are also important for your breastfeeding baby’s health. Your baby will also benefit from your body’s vitamin reserves as you breastfeed her. Ask your doctor about the vitamins to take while breastfeeding and if you need to take any special vitamin supplements.
What vitamins did you take while you were breastfeeding? Did your doctor ask you to take any special vitamin supplements, or did she just ask you to include some vitamin-rich foods in your diet? How did you go about it? Tell us about your experiences here. Leave a comment below.
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