Nutrition For Breastfeeding Mothers

As a mother, when I was pregnant, the health of my newborn baby was the most important thing to me. I wanted to ensure that I was doing everything right. Having a baby changes a woman’s physiology drastically to allow for the development of the fetus. Eating the right foods, supplementing accordingly and getting an adequate amount of fluids is crucial to a baby’s healthy development and growth.

 

Pre and postnatal nutritional requirements vary and are one of the most important times that it is really necessary to know that you are taking the right types of vitamins and whole foods for optimal nutrition.

 

Vitamins during pregnancy 

During pregnancy, women need more iron, folate, zinc, magnesium, and B-6 along with 300-500 more calories a day during the second trimester. An extra 500 calories a day in the third trimester and no extra calories during the first. 

 

Vitamins after pregnancy

After pregnancy, lactating mothers need more vitamin A, C, and Zinc and less iron (as menstruation ceases during lactation) along with 450-500 more calories a day. The caloric intake is general and will vary from woman to woman as there are many other variables to consider. 

Calories are easily obtained from food but the nutrient amounts can be somewhat difficult to get from food alone so it’s best to play it safe and supplement with vitamins.

 

Below is a list of the best vitamins for breastfeeding moms along with food tips that will ensure the proper growth and development of your baby.

 

Supplements & nutrition for breastfeeding mothers

1. Prenatal Vitamins

Prenatal vitamin supplements are a complex of vitamins and minerals specifically made for pregnant women but is also beneficial to the lactating mother. Prenatals are just like age and gender-specific daily vitamins. There are certain nutrient counts that are much higher or lower to coincide with the needs of a growing fetus. Supplementing with prenatal vitamins will contribute to a nutrient-dense milk flow while supporting the mother’s immunity as well. 

 

2. Omega 3

Omega 3 is an essential fatty acid (EFA) and a very important component in breast milk. Omega 3 fish oil supplements are made up of 2 parts, EPA and DHA.  DHA, in particular, plays a role in the development of the baby’s central nervous system, brain, eyes and immune system.

 

 This will reduce the chances of short attention spans and delayed developmental learning. According to the US National Library of Medicine, it has been proven that Omega 3 can reduce and alleviate the symptoms of children who suffer from attention deficit disorder (ADD) you can read about it here, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4968854/

 

It is recommended that EFA’s be supplemented with during pregnancy and lactation as a preventative to support the baby’s mental development.

 

3. Probiotics

Probiotics are the gentlest and safest way to keep a mother’s immune system strong and bowels regular. Regular bowel movements allow for better nutrient absorption which in turn leaves vitamins more readily available to the lactating baby. Probiotics are also a great way to build the baby’s immune system during lactation which can prevent colds, bacterial infections, and colic. You can read more about the benefits of Probiotics for babies here, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5974413/. A mother can supplement with probiotics or she can give it directly to her baby. Consult with your pharmacist on the right strains and live bacterial count to suit you and your baby’s needs.

 

4. B Vitamins & Folic Acid

Studies have shown that B complex depletion is common during pregnancy and lactation. Supplementing with B vitamins (especially Folic Acid) will help the baby maintain healthy birth weight and is also a great vitamin for energy in mothers.

 

 Supplementation will also prevent metabolic disorders in mothers. Studies have shown that supplementation with Folic Acid (also a B vitamin) during pregnancy helps to prevent low birth weight and neural tube defects of the brain, spine and spinal cord. 

 

The amazing benefits of B vitamins will keep the nursing mother energized and strong as she passes on those same benefits to the baby during lactation. You can read more about it here. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4275593/

 

5. Red Raspberry Leaves

There are a plethora of safe and effective herbal teas and supplements that can be taken during and after pregnancy. I personally drank Red Raspberry Leaves all throughout my pregnancy and lactation. It is rich in vitamins C,  E, Calcium and other minerals. It is especially high in chelated iron (which is easily absorbed) and increases the flow of breastmilk while restoring the reproductive system after childbirth. Did I mention it tastes great as well?

 

Although some herbal teas are not safe during and after pregnancy, the American Pregnancy Association has marked Red Raspberry leaf as “safe” along with other herbs that can help aid abundant milk flow, check it out here. https://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/herbal-tea/

 

6. Fluids and Hydration

Our body is made up of 70%-90% water and so is breast milk.

While breastfeeding, the need for fluids increases. Water is the best hydration and is known to help maintain a steady and abundant flow of milk supply which avoids an early dry up. 

Fresh fruit and vegetable juices are also healthy alternatives but limit the intake of soda and concentrate juices as they are filled with refined sugar and can rob the body of its precious water stores.

 

7. Diet and Food

There is a misconception that you must eat more when pregnant. Although your appetite naturally increases as you eat for two, it’s not how much you eat that matters, it’s what you eat. When you stick with nutritionally dense food, along with lots of water and natural juices, you put your consistent cravings at bay. If you find you are gaining weight too quickly, then try to cut back on processed, calorie-dense food with little nutritional value.

After pregnancy, it’s just as important to maintain healthy eating habits and staying hydrated as the nutrients and fluids will make for very rich and nourishing breastmilk for your baby. Lots of whole grains, organic meats, and freshwater fish, green leafy vegetables, fruits, legumes along with nuts, seeds and water will give you and your baby sound health.

 

Lactating is such an intimate moment between mother and child. Knowing the right vitamins to take while breastfeeding and embracing healthy eating habits will ensure the healthy development and growth of your baby. Vitamins for women before conception along with breastfeeding vitamins during lactation is the best way to go about the right nutrition for you and your baby.

The 5 Best Vitamins for Eye Health

They say the eyes are the windows to the soul, the ultimate lie detectors and the place where the magic happens between two people. More importantly, our eyes are our guides in this world and what we use to enhance our other 4 senses.

The eye’s responsibility is to take in light and perceive objects around us in the proper color, detail, and depth. They are also a part of what helps us to maintain our balance and enhance our daily functions.

Our eyes are the most sensitive organ in the body and the most common organ to begin deteriorating from a very young age (hence, young children wearing glasses).

 

How do vitamins help with eye health?

As we age, so do our eyes and their ability to function at its best. This can be due to smoking, lack of nutrition, a toxic build-up in the body, toxins in the air and a lack of exercise. We may find that we have trouble adjusting to glares or in need of glasses to see things up close. Macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts, and low vision are all common problems that the aging population faces today.

Supplementing with vitamins can play an important role in the prevention and mitigation of these illnesses.

So which vitamins are good for the eyes? There are so many different types of vitamins but which ones are best? Below are the vitamins we should be looking out for along with whole foods that can help prevent and improve vision-related problems.

1. Lutein and Zeaxanthin

Lutein and Zeaxanthin are carotenoids that show up as yellow and red pigments in vegetables and other foods. They are potent antioxidants that fight against free radical damage in the eyes. These 2 nutrients are found in high concentrations in the macula (the part of the eye that gives us the ability to see 20/20) and give the eye its yellowish color. A number of studies have proven that Lutein and Zeaxanthin slow the progression and help prevent macular degeneration by blocking blue light from entering the sensitive areas of the eye. This helps reduce the risk of light-induced oxidative damage. An article published by the journal of Ophthalmology goes into more detail about these findings, See this study by Hindawi to learn more

2. B Vitamins

There are eight B vitamins that make up the complex of all the B nutrients. These vitamins play a crucial role in the body’s chemical processes and regulation. B vitamins are produced in the gastrointestinal tract but can become quickly depleted by stress, anxiety and digestive problems amongst other things. They are also water-soluble vitamins, which means the body does not store them for later use.

B-1 (also known as Thiamine) helps boost energy levels, protect nerve endings and play a role in muscle contraction amongst many other functions. A deficiency can result in eye muscle weakness, blurry vision and can also cause the eye to tremble, a condition known as Nystagmus. B-1 helps the eyes by reducing inflammation and protecting the eye’s nerves.

A deficiency in Riboflavin, which is B-2, can cause eye redness and fatigue,  irritation and sensitivity to light. It too acts as an antioxidant to protect the eye from free radical damage. B2 has been associated with helping to reduce the risk of Cataracts, along with vitamin E, C, and Selenium. An article published by the US National Library of Medicine goes into detail about how Riboflavin and other nutrients work together to keep Cataracts at bay, click here to find out more, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11302779

B-12 or Cobalamin is found in animal-based food and is usually taken in sublingual form by vegans or vegetarians who do not have readily available access to this nutrient. B-12 supports proper nerve and red blood cell formation and proper development of the brain. A deficiency of B-12 can cause reduced color vision and painless vision loss.

Although B vitamins play specific roles, they work synergistically, in that they function better when taken together. Taking one B vitamin can deplete others, so it’s best to take a Complex B vitamin supplement and reap the benefits of them all.

3. Omega 3 

Omega 3 is an essential fatty acid that has anti-inflammatory properties, supports brain function and eye health. Omega 3 also plays a role in preventing macular degeneration while it’s lubricating properties protect against dry eyes. Omega 3 is not produced in the body so external sources in the form of supplements and food, like freshwater fish and avocados, are important to ensure you are getting this healthy fat into your diet. 

4. Vitamin A

Vitamin A, also known as Beta Carotene, is a fat-soluble vitamin and is probably one of the most commonly known vitamins for eyesight. Deficiency in this vitamin can cause your eyes and tear ducts to dry out and also increase the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. Vitamin A is fat-soluble, which means that your body will store what it doesn’t need. Because of this, it’s best to take Vitamin A in a daily multivitamin form to keep within the RDA (recommended daily allowance)

5. Whole Foods

Complimenting your supplements with whole, live foods is an essential way to support the optimal vision and prevent future eye problems while keeping the whole body healthy. 

Incorporating a high antioxidant, nutrient-dense and high fiber diet is essential to having healthy eyes. 

Some whole foods that contain readily available nutrients for the eyes include:

  • Green and yellow vegetables
  • kale
  • carrots
  • apricots
  • prunes
  • lemons
  • green bell pepper
  • rosehips
  • broccoli
  • oranges
  • leafy greens
  • whole grains
  • legumes
  • nuts and seeds
  • freshwater fish (salmon, mackerel, anchovy)
  • avocados. 

Avoid white sugar, pastries, cakes, and coffee as they contain no nutrients, can lower immune system function and leeches water from the body.

Our vision brings us lasting memories, it lets us see the beauty of our world and keeps our other senses stimulated. Incorporating the best halal vitamins that include proper eye supplementation, will help to maintain healthy eyes as we age and will improve our quality of life,  and keep us active. Let’s begin to pay more attention to the health of our eyes as we take preventative measures and improve our daily habits.

6 Vitamins for a Vegan Diet

 

Becoming a vegan has been a very popular trend over the past few years. According to The Vegan Society, the vegan trend quadrupled within 5 years between 2012 – 2017. Factors like healthy living and the awareness of the link between greenhouse emissions, livestock and our environment have contributed to the rise of no-meat diets.

 

Veganism is sometimes seen as a healthier lifestyle option. Eating whole, plant-based foods that are either genetically engineered or grown on depleted soil can hinder its nutritional content and the idea of consuming a wholesome diet. 

 

The reason being is that these factors can affect the foods nutrient content, making you believe you are getting the right number of vitamins and minerals when in essence you are not. The answer to this would be simple, go completely organic, right? But not everyone can afford to do so. 

 

What are vegan vitamins?

The more realistic option would be to incorporate vegan supplements to ensure that you are getting all your recommended daily allowances of vitamins for optimal health.

Vegan vitamins are characterized as being gelatin, honey, and dairy-free. So long as there are no animal or animal by-products, it can be considered vegan. 

Here is a list of the most important vitamins that vegans should incorporate into their daily regimen.

 

1. B-12

Although there are fortified beverages and unwashed organic produce that may contain traces of B-12, there is still a high chance of B-12 deficiency among vegans. Readily found in animal products, B-12 supports brain and nervous system function and assists in the prevention of anemia. There are many forms of B-12 that have to go through an extensive conversion process in the body before it is absorbed and utilized by the cells. I recommend the Methylcobalamin form of B-12 as it allows you to bypass all the processes of conversion and is ready for absorption. B-12 is easily consumed in its lozenge or sublingual form at 5-10mcg/day for optimal health.

 

2. Iron

Iron is a mineral that is at the center of red blood cell production. Its main function is to bring oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body tissues in order to maintain the basic functions of life.  There are traces of iron in green leafy vegetables, legumes, whole grains and herbs like Stinging Nettle. When these foods are not consumed on a daily basis and in the right amount, deficiencies can occur. A lack of iron will cause a decrease in healthy red blood cells, which in turn causes weakness and shortness of breath, as less oxygen circulates through the body.  When taking Iron supplements, vegans must be careful as most iron on the market comes from animal sources in the form of heme iron. Be sure to look for a non-heme iron supplement which is a plant-derived form. Daily intake will vary and should be discussed with your local pharmacist.

3. Omega 3

Omega 3 is an essential fatty acid and must be taken by everyone (not just vegans) as it is not produced in the body. Omega 3 is a healthy fat that is important for brain function, bone health, inflammatory conditions and hair, skin and nails. It is most often consumed and found in high amounts of fresh water fish. Vegan options include avocado, nuts, and seeds. Deficiency can cause poor brain development and Attention Deficit Disorder in kids and adults, bone problems and brittle/dry hair, skin and nails.  The best vegan vitamin for Omega 3 supplementation would be hemp oil, flax-seed oil, coconut oil or algae oil. These oils usually come in an animal-based soft gel so the liquid form would be a better option.

Your daily allowance is dependent upon your age and if there are any underlying conditions but a general dosage for maintenance would be 500mg-1000mg a day.

 

4. Multivitamin

Multivitamins are amazing. They have a little bit of almost everything you need to meet your body’s daily nutritional requirements. Taking a daily multivitamin in the vegan form will make up for what you didn’t get during the day. Age and gender-specific women’s vitamins as well as men’s vitamins provide more targeted nutritional needs and are highly recommend to be a part of one’s daily regimen. 

 

5. Vitamin D-3 

Vitamin D-3, also known as the Sunshine vitamin is readily available in animal protein and can be absorbed in abundance from the Sun. Unfortunately, when the Sun isn’t shining there is no way for vegans to get their vitamin D-3 naturally unless it is artificially fortified in a food or beverage. Vitamin D-3 is vital for maintaining a balanced mood and has been associated with S.A.D (Seasonal Affective Disorder), depression and other mood disorders. This fat-soluble vitamin also maintains immune function, builds strong bones and helps stabilize normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus. Most supplements of vitamin D-3 are sourced from Lanolin, which is extracted from Sheep’s wool. A vegan alternative would be vitamin D sourced from Lichen at a general dose of 1000 IU daily.

 

6. Protein

Although protein is not a vitamin, it is definitely just as important when it comes to veganism. This macro-nutrient is the reason behind the excessive muscle wasting that occurs among some vegans who do not implement complete proteins in their diet. Combining the right foods to create a complete protein is key to maintaining a healthy weight and the vital functions that protein is used for in the body. A complete protein is made up of 20 amino acids, which are its building blocks. Unfortunately, there are only a few vegan foods that provide all 20 amino acids (i.e. quinoa, tempeh, spirulina etc.). In order to create a complete protein, one can combine a legume and grain to ensure that all 20 amino acids are present. Examples of this would be brown rice and kidney beans or a Barley bean stew. A vegan protein shake is also a quick and easy way to maintain protein intake.

 

All in all, a vegan lifestyle yields many benefits. Eating whole, plant-based foods will offer a variety of nutrients, more energy and will be of service to our environment. That being said, vegan vitamins can play an important role as plant-based and fortified foods have been somewhat tainted with GMO’s and undernourished soils. Always keep in mind that supplements are keys to optimal health, no matter what lifestyle you embrace.