Taking Vitamin C While Breastfeeding: Benefits & Side Effects

Should You Take Vitamin C While Breastfeeding?

Vitamin C is water soluble and a vital antioxidant that everyone needs. It is found in fruits and vegetables. It keeps cells healthy by protecting them, is helpful when it comes to absorbing iron and also aids in the healing of wounds and tissues. The human body is not able to produce this vitamin, so we need to look at fruits and vegetables that are rich in it so that we can enjoy its benefits. Eating Vitamin C-rich food while pregnant is essential, but should you consume it while breastfeeding too?

In this article, we will answer this question along with the benefits and side effects of having Vitamin C while breastfeeding.

Vitamin C is used to treat various ailments such as fatigue, infections and even cancer. A deficiency of this Vitamin leads to scurvy, and when consumed, the kidneys keep a check on the amount in our bodies. Any excessive amounts will be removed from the body.

Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin C Deficiency While Breastfeeding

Is Vitamin C safe while breastfeeding? Let’s learn about the signs and symptoms of Vitamin C deficiency while breastfeeding.

  • Fatigue and Weakness: Feeling tired and weak, even after getting enough rest and sleep.
  • Easy Bruising: Developing bruises easily or experiencing slow wound healing.
  • Swollen and Bleeding Gums: Gums may become swollen, red, and bleed when brushing or flossing.
  • Rough, Dry Skin: Skin may become dry, rough, and prone to irritation or rashes.
  • Joint and Muscle Aches: Experiencing pain and discomfort in the joints and muscles.
  • Scurvy (in severe cases): This is a rare but serious condition that can develop if vitamin C deficiency is left untreated. Symptoms of scurvy may include swelling, bleeding gums, joint pain, anaemia, and skin changes. It requires immediate medical attention.

Benefits of Ascorbic Acid during Breastfeeding

As seen, Vitamin C, also known as Ascorbic Acid, has many benefits to the human body, and when it comes to breastfeeding, it is no different. Here is how it helps nursing mothers

1. Increase in Milk Supply

While not every nursing mother experiences an increase in her milk supply, some mothers so experience it. Your flow becomes quite steady if you take this supplement regularly as well, so if you are experiencing any difficulties in producing milk for your little one, speak to your doctor about Vitamin C and get his or her advice on if it is alright to give it a shot.

2. Stronger Immune System

Breastfeeding mothers are often afraid of becoming sick as they can pass it on to their little ones, but if you are taking a daily dose of Vitamin C, your body will be able to fight off any infections before they have any time to take root. Not only that, but you will be passing on this benefit to your child as well.

3. Strengthens Teeth and Bones

Nursing mothers do not need the additional worry of teeth problems or worrying about broken or injured bones as this will, without a doubt, hinder their ability to look after their little ones. Vitamin C will help strengthen your teeth and bones, especially when working together with other vitamins like Vitamin D so that you have one less thing to worry about when it comes to nutritional needs.

4. Enhances Iron Absorption

Vitamin C helps in the absorption of non-heme iron, a type of iron which is found in plant-based foods and supplements. This is beneficial for breastfeeding mothers who may be at risk of iron deficiency anaemia.

5. Supports Tissue Repair and Growth

Vitamin C plays an essential role in forming collagen, a protein necessary for wound healing and the growth and repair of tissues, including those in the breast.

6. Protects Against Oxidative Stress

Ascorbic acid is a powerful antioxidant. It helps neutralise harmful free radicals in the body, which can contribute to cellular damage and ageing. This antioxidant effect is important for overall health and can be especially beneficial during the postpartum period.

How Does Vitamin C Affect Breast Milk?

When a mother takes Vitamin C in her diet, there is an increase of the vitamin in her breast milk within thirty minutes of her taking it. Her breast milk supply may increase, and for mothers who are already healthy, it will aid them to provide a steady flow of breast milk. When working together with Vitamin E, Vitamin C can have a very positive effect on breast milk as it improves the antioxidant levels in it, which then get passed on to their babies.

Vitamin C in Diet

Mothers who consume a healthy and balanced diet often get the correct amount of Vitamin C that their bodies need. Some common sources of vitamin C are kiwi, citrus fruits, berries, peppers, tomatoes, leafy vegetables and more. By ensuring to add these into your meals on a daily basis, you will not have to worry about having an insufficient amount of it.

Pregnant woman making orange juice

Vitamin C Supplements

For women in developed countries, poor nourishment is not a problem, and often, Vitamin C supplements are not needed unless prescribed by a doctor. However, for women in underdeveloped countries, or even those with low incomes who are unable to maintain a balanced diet, Vitamin C supplements often act as their saving grace as it is an essential vitamin that they need to have to remain healthy and pass along the benefits to their babies.

Does vitamin C pass through breast milk? Is it safe to take vitamin C supplements while breastfeeding?

These are questions that nursing mothers or first-time mothers-to-be often wonder. The answer to both is yes. Vitamin C does pass through breast milk and for mothers who are lacking in vitamin C in their bodies, it is vital that they take the supplements as it is found that the amount of the vitamin doubles in their breast milk when they do so.

Recommended Intake

How much Vitamin C can I take while breastfeeding? According to the RDA, it is recommended that breastfeeding women under the age of 18 should take 115mg of Vitamin C per day, and those who are 19 years and older should take 120mg of the vitamin. The maximum amount that can be taken by breastfeeding women is 1800mg per day for those 18 and younger, while those 19 years and above can take a maximum of 2000mg per day.

If you try to take a dosage any higher than the ones mentioned, there is an extreme likelihood that you will experience some unpleasant side effects.

Side Effects of Excess Vitamin C While Nursing

If the recommended dosage of Vitamin in while nursing is exceeding, you are most likely to experience the following side effects:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach Cramps
  • Heart Burn
  • Headache
  • Diarrhoea
  • Kidney Stones
  • Digestive Disturbances

What Is the Level of Vitamin C in Expressed Milk?

Studies show that the level of Vitamin C in expressed milk decreases by about one-third when stored for 24 hours or two-thirds when frozen for more than one month.

FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions about Vitamin C and breastfeeding:

1. Can Vitamin C Help to Get Rid of Mastitis?

Yes, it is highly likely that Vitamin C can be used for getting rid of mastitis. Mastitis is a disease that occurs when a milk duct is blocked and does not clear out on its own. Staphylococcus aureus causes the most chronic type of mastitis, and there have been studies that show that Vitamin C limits Staphylococcus aureus, therefore working against mastitis.

2. Does Smoking Reduce the Amount of Vitamin C in Breast Milk?

Yes, smoking does reduce the amount of Vitamin C in breast milk, so women who smoke will require a higher dosage of Vitamin C per day, at least 35 mg more per day.

3. Can Vitamin C in Breastmilk ReduceYour Baby’s Chances of Developing Allergies?

Just like adults, babies also need a certain amount of Vitamin C in their diets to keep them healthy, better help their immunity and prevent them from developing diseases like scurvy. Those babies who have been breastfed by mothers with a good amount of vitamin C in their diet often have a smaller tendency to develop allergies. Mothers with food hypersensitivity will have babies who have low vitamin C in their systems, thereby making them more prone to developing allergies.

4. Will Vitamin C Decrease Your Milk Supply?

While Vitamin C taken in the recommended amounts can benefit your child, if taken excessively, it could have just the opposite reaction. Vitamin C in some cases can increase the quantity of breast milk produced, but for mothers who are overly sensitive, it may have the opposite effect and decrease the amount of breast milk produced as it can sometimes act as an anti-lactogenic food.

5. Does Vitamin C Impact the Taste of Breast Milk?

Excessive Vitamin C intake in very high doses can alter breast milk taste, resulting in a slightly more acidic flavour. However, moderate consumption through a balanced diet is unlikely to have a noticeable effect.

6. Can You Take Vitamin C If You Have a Cold During Breastfeeding?

Yes, breastfeeding mothers can take Vitamin C if they have a cold. It may help support the immune system. However, it’s best to get Vitamin C from a balanced diet.

As we have seen, Vitamin C is incredibly beneficial to both you and your child, but taken in very high doses, it can become dangerous to both. When taking Vitamin C, breastfeeding safety is of utmost importance. It is better to get Vitamin C from healthy food sources rather than supplements. However, there may be cases where your doctor feels that you are in need of Vitamin C supplements.

Most often, this will occur in cases of deficiency or if you are suffering from an ailment. When it comes to any medication or supplements, do not try to self-medicate no matter how good something appears as you are not only risking your health, but that of your child’s as well. Always consult with your doctor on the best course of action as your doctor will be able to tell you if it is needed or if it may cause further complications.

References/Resources:

1. Vitamin C; medlineplus.gov; https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002404.htm

2. Nutrition Tips for Breastfeeding Mothers; ucsfhealth.org; https://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/nutrition-tips-for-breastfeeding-mothers

3. Breastfeeding While Taking High Dose Vitamins; lacted.org; https://lacted.org/questions/0147-high-dose-vitamins-breastfeeding/

4. Vitamins and Other Nutritional Supplements; llli.org; https://llli.org/breastfeeding-info/vitamins-nutritional-supplements/

5. Pregnant or Breastfeeding? Nutrients You Need; kidshealth.org; https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/moms-nutrients.html

6. Vitamin C; mothertobaby.org; https://mothertobaby.org/fact-sheets/vitamin-c/

7. Keeping breast milk safe and healthy; marchofdimes.org; https://www.marchofdimes.org/find-support/topics/parenthood/keeping-breast-milk-safe-and-healthy

8. Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid); mountsinai.org; https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/supplement/vitamin-c-ascorbic-acid

Also Read:

Cold Medicine while Breastfeeding
Are Medications Safe while Breastfeeding?
Apple Cider Vinegar during Breastfeeding
Is It Safe to Have Protein Powder during Breastfeeding?

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