While feeding your baby, or babies, it is also important to be cognoscente of mommy’s nutrition. A breast-feeding mother who is attempting weight loss needs on average an additional 300 Calories per day then baseline intake, however this is very individualized. If a mother is feeding multiple children, she may need up to 1000 Calories more per day to prevent extreme weight loss and maintain quality breast milk. An ideal approach is to weigh yourself one time per week, and try not to lose more than ½ lb per week. If one is able to maintain this rate of loss, then they know that they are consuming adequate calories.
In addition to the amount of energy required for a breast-feeding mom, the quality of their diet remains important. The following are key nutrients found in breast milk, so if mom is not consuming enough of these vitamins and minerals, she may become deficient. Once a mother is deficient the breast milk will also be compromised.
Listed below are specific proteins that are found in breast milk and their benefits:
Fat-soluble vitamins, including vitamins A, D, E, and K, are all stored in our fat cells. Most Americans eat enough vitamin A, which is found in orange colored foods (carrots, sweet potatoes, oranges, etc.). The remainder of these vital micronutrients are offered skipped. Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant and is found in a variety of healthy fats and oils and Vitamin K is found in dark leafy green vegetables. Adding nuts and seeds to a yummy green salad will do the trick!
Vitamin D is unique in that in can be synthesized in our skin with the help of the sun. Unfortunately, for folks in the Midwest there is only adequate sunlight in a small window of the year. Therefore, most are commonly deficient in this vital amine. The DRI for vitamin D is 200 IU, however the human body can make 10,000 IU in about 20 minutes in the sun, which tells us our bodies can handle much more. Vitamin D is not found in very many foods, but can be found in mushrooms, eggs, and fatty fish. It is also added to some foods such as in the case of milk.
Most people know that vitamin D helps to support bone development and maintenance by increasing the absorption of calcium and magnesium from the gut. It also plays a role in preventing cardiovascular disease, multiple sclerosis, and some forms of cancer.
Water-soluble vitamins such as vitamin C and specific B vitamins (riboflavin, niacin, and panthothenic acid). B-Vitamins are critical for the metabolism, or breakdown and use, of protein, fat and carbohydrates. They also helps to form the developing brains and nervous systems of all the growing babies, while playing a role in the formation of new red blood cells, antibodies to support the immune system, and neurotransmitters, which are those happy hormones such as serotonin, dopamine, and DHEA. They can be found naturally in chicken, fish, pork, beans, peas, legumes, dairy, eggs, dark green vegetables and baked potatoes.
Calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and iron are three important minerals found in breast milk. All of which have fairly high bioavailability, which means they are easy for the baby to use once they consume them.
Calcium and Magnesium are the super heroes for building and maintaining mom’s bones while constructing baby’s skeletal structure. The DRI for calcium is 1,000 mg, however the research literature recommends closer to 2,000 mg and the DRI for magnesium is 36o mg but again the literature suggests 1,200 mg per day. In addition to calcium’s bone building role, it also acts as a signaling messenger for some hormones and a co-enzyme, or “right-hand man” in blood clotting. Magnesium also has significant roles in over 300 bodily reactions, including muscle and nerve function, maintaining a steady heart rhythm and regulating blood sugar and blood pressure.
Calcium is found in high amounts in tofu/soy, green vegetables, sardines, molasses and of course dairy products. Magnesium is found in wheat bran, dark leafy green vegetables, nuts and seeds and beans and legumes.
Phosphorus is also critical for bone development in infants and maintenance in mommies. It is found throughout the body, including in the membranes (outer layer) of every cell. Phosphorus not only provides a structural role in the body, but is vital to energy production as ATP, or adenosine tri-phosphate.
Almost all foods have some phosphorus, but the amounts are greater in animal products, such as beef, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy, but is also found in nuts and seeds. Phosphorus intake is typically not an issue in the US due to soda-pop intake. However, the phosphorus in carbonated beverages (phosphoric acid)- if consumed excessively- can interfere with calcium metabolism.
Iron is commonly supplemented and is the cause of several unwanted side-effects, such as nausea and constipation, but it is important in providing oxygen-rich blood to both mom and babies. Iron can be found in red meat, liver, chicken, fish, beans, leafy vegetables and molasses. But, typically a supplement containing Iron sulfate is recommended.
Carbohydrates. Breast milk is 40% carbohydrate, which is in the form of lactose- a milk sugar. The body is very good at creating carbohydrates out of other energy sources, but it is still important for a mother to consume a meal pattern with at least 45% of her energy from carbohydrates.
Fat, primarily from unsaturated sources high in omega 3’s. Omega 3 fatty acids have exploded in popularity due to their powerful role in reducing inflammation, or putting out the fire, in the body. This decrease in inflammation can be attributed to two of the omega-3′s found in fatty fish, Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). DHA, specifically, is now being added to some prenatal vitamins due to studies noting that DHA can help reduce risks of poor retinal (eye) development and poor cognitive development. The International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids currently recommends 300 mg per day of DHA for pregnant and lactating moms. A new article published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition stated that mom’s who took 600 to 900 mg of DHA per day had longer gestations, bigger babies and longitudinal data points to better cognition for the children in their preschool years. Therefore, mom should not cut short on fat and load up nuts (almonds, walnuts, pistachios), fatty fish (salmon, sardines), avocado and olives.