Extra nutrients can make breast milk even better.
Breast milk is the perfect food for your baby. If you decide to breastfeed, your breast milk will be your baby’s only source of nutrition for the first six months of rapid growth and development. It will continue to provide nourishment and immune benefits as long as you continue breastfeeding.
Breast milk is superior nourishment for your baby, but what if you could make it even better? What if you could include a few powerful nutrients in your diet which would play a role in your baby’s growth, development, health and wellness? Well, you can. There are a few nutrients which are particularly important and including them in your diet will power up your breast milk making it even better than it already is.
While you are breastfeeding, it is important to continue your prenatal vitamin. Your body will take what it needs from you to create the most nutrient dense milk possible to nourish your baby. This leaves you in a state of depletion if you do not carefully consider your nutrient intake. Continuing your prenatal vitamin ensures you will get the necessary nutrients.
According to research, most of us are deficient in vitamin D; therefore if mom is deficient she will not be able to provide adequate amounts of vitamin D to baby in her breast milk.
Vitamin D is extremely important for bone and teeth development, immune health, growth and development and the prevention of many diseases including type 1 diabetes, some cancers and hypertension. To increase vitamin D levels the best source is sunshine, 15 to 20 minutes, 3 to 4 times per week on unprotected skin; that means no sunscreen. Sunscreen will block the ability of the body to produce vitamin D. Food sources of vitamin D are limited – fortified dairy products, fish and cod liver oil. During the winter months when the sun is not strong enough in the north to allow the body to synthesize vitamin D, supplementation is necessary.
In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition lactating mothers were supplemented with 2,000 or 4,000 IU of vitamin D daily. The study was used to determine what level of supplementation brought baby’s vitamin D levels to normal. In both groups, the vitamin D status of the infant improved greatly (as did the mother’s). In the 4,000 IU/day group, the infant’s’ vitamin D levels normalized after three months of breastfeeding. Talk to your health care practitioner about how much Vitamin D you should be taking.
Probiotics are good bacteria which live in our gastrointestinal tract and account for up to 80% of our immune system; supplementation during pregnancy and while breastfeeding has been shown to reduce the incidence of allergies, asthma, eczema and colic in babies. Although the actual good bugs will not make it into your breast milk, the immune benefits will. Maintaining a strong presence of good bacteria will ensure your immune system is strong and is also beneficial in the prevention of thrush, a yeast infection that often plagues mom’s breast and baby’s mouth. To find a probiotic supplement, visit your local health food store.
DHA – Brain Food
The majority of your baby’s brain is made up of fat; in fact 60% of the brain is fat. This is not just any fat, it is an omega 3 fatty acid known as DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Your baby’s brain develops rapidly during the first three months outside the womb; meeting your DHA needs is very important to support this development. DHA also plays a role in the development of the retina and nervous system. We know, through research, the DHA present in breast milk varies from mom to mom, which means it all comes down to your diet. The more DHA in your diet, the richer your breast milk will be. DHA is found in fatty cold water fish and algae, but it is extremely difficult to meet the demand for DHA through food alone so supplementation with a high potency quality supplement is necessary.
It is simply amazing that your body can produce such a powerful and nourishing food for your baby as breastmilk, food that is easily absorbed and uniquely designed specifically for your baby. By supporting your body with a few quality nutrients you can power it up and make the perfect food even better!