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10 Nutrients That Are Essential For Breastfeeding Moms | Hea Boosters

While breastfeeding, you need as many nutrients as when you were pregnant. Breastfeeding moms are required to eat much more than during pregnancy. As a breastfeeding mother, you need to eat about 400 - 500 calories more per day than when you were pregnant. Your diet can pretty much remain the same during your pregnancy, but there are certain nutrients you need as a breastfeeding mom. Maintaining certain daily nutritional requirements is crucial so you are able to produce milk to nurse your baby.

10 essential nutrients that you need as a breastfeeding mother:

1. Protein:

New mothers are advised to take in more protein while breastfeeding. Protein helps the body to heal, build, and maintain lean body mass. It is recommended to take about 71 mg of protein a day while breastfeeding. Some good sources of protein include milk, eggs, tofu, meat, poultry foods, peanut butter, salmon, nuts, tuna, and yogurt.

2. Iron:

Iron is another essential nutrient but is required in a lesser amount while breastfeeding than when you are not breastfeeding. This is because you don’t have a menstrual cycle during your pregnancy and while breastfeeding, so your body requires less iron. Breastfeeding moms are required to take 9 milligrams of iron a day, for mothers 19 years of age and older. Mothers who are 18 years and younger are required to take 10 milligrams of iron. Good sources of iron include dried fruits, egg yolk, meat, dried beans, poultry, and dark leafy green vegetables.

3. Omega -3 Fatty Acids:

Omega-3 fatty acids are nutrients your body readily needs, and they are also good for your growing baby. It is recommended to take between 200 - 300 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids daily. You could also take about 1 -2 six ounces servings of fish weekly to maintain the fatty acids in your breast milk. However, not all kinds of fish are recommended for consumption as a lot contain high levels of Mercury. Fish like salmon, scallops, tilapia, shrimps, sardines, mackerel (not king mackerel), and trout are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids. You can also go for walnuts and flaxseeds as substitutes for fish if you’re not a fan of eating fish.

4. Calcium:

Your body draws on the calcium deposited available while nursing your baby, which is why it is required to take about 1000 milligrams daily. Although your body will replenish the calcium taken from your bones while nourishing, you need to have a calcium-fortified diet or take supplements to help. If you are calcium deficient, you might need to add supplements to your diet so you meet the daily required amounts. Good food sources of calcium are calcium-fortified cereals and orange juice, tofu, dried beans, cheese, milk, yogurt, and dark leafy greens.

5. Iodine:

Lactating moms are advised to use iodized salt in their cooking to get the required daily amount. It is good for you and also helps the thyroid development of your baby. You can also take daily prenatal vitamins that contain about 150 micrograms of iodine because it is easily absorbed by the body. Seafood like fish and dairy products such as milk and cheese are good food sources of iodine. If you notice your prenatal vitamins don’t contain enough iodine, talk to your doctor about it.

6. Vitamin A:

Nursing mothers also need vitamin A in their diets. It is recommended to take about 1500 micrograms of vitamin A daily as a lactating mom. Vitamin A sources include orange juice, sweet potatoes, milk, carrots, cantaloupe, and dark leafy greens.

7. Vitamin B12:

Vitamin B12 is important for both you and your child. It is found in both animal and vegetable sources. Food sources of vitamin B12 include milk, meat, egg, fish, and fortified foods like cereal. If you are vegan, you can take supplements instead, but you need to consult with your doctor on which supplements to take.

8. Vitamin C:

As a nursing mother, you need more vitamin C now than during pregnancy. For young mothers of 18 years and below, it is required to take 115 milligrams of vitamin C. Mothers who are 19 years of age and older are required to take 120 milligrams of vitamin C daily. Sources of vitamin C include bell pepper, citrus fruits, potatoes, kiwi, cauliflower, tomatoes, cantaloupe, cabbage, and broccoli. Vitamin C is also necessary if you are taking iron because it helps the body absorb it better.

9. Vitamin D:

Vitamin D is another essential vitamin, as it helps the body properly absorb calcium. Your body makes vitamin D when your skin is exposed to sunlight, but food sources include egg yolk, free-fat or low-fat milk, salmon, and fortified orange juice. The right time for sun exposure so the body can make vitamin D is in the morning when the sun first comes out. You shouldn’t stay out for too long, especially after 9 am.

10. Fiber:

Fiber is a nutrient usually recommended during pregnancy, but can still be taken by nursing mothers. Fruits, legumes such as lentils and beans, whole grains such as rice, and vegetables are good sources of fiber.

Before adding any supplements to your diet or certain meals, be sure to check with your doctor first. Your doctor will advise you on the best supplements, prenatal vitamins, and the daily quantity of certain nutrients you need to take unique to your health.


1. Iodine

2. Dietary Patterns of Breastfeeding Mothers and Human Milk Composition: Data from the Italian MEDIDIET Study.

3. Multidimensional Approach to Assess Nutrition and Lifestyle in Breastfeeding Women during the First Month of Lactation

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