Vitamin D and Breastfeeding Mother

Vitamin D and Breastfeeding Mothers

Breast milk is the best milk for an infant and it should be the only source of nutrients for a baby up until he turns six months. Breast milk builds and develops a baby’s immune system, thus protecting him from many infections and diseases. It may also prove beneficial to the mother as it reduces her chances of having breast cancer later in life. Mostly a mother is the sole provider of nutrition to her baby, hence she should make sure that she consumes a well-balanced diet that includes vitamin D also. But sometimes a diet alone may not suffice Vitamin D requirements of a mother and her growing baby.

Why Is Vitamin D Important for Breastfeeding Moms?

Vitamin D is essential for the healthy growth of bones, to fight against cardiovascular diseases, to protect the body against autoimmune disorders and even certain types of cancers. In short, vitamin D is required for both mental and physical health of your baby. Therefore, in case a mother suffers from vitamin D deficiency, it may increase the chances of her baby having vitamin D deficiency, too. This is because in the first few months after birth, breast milk may be the only source of nutrition for a baby. Also, it has been observed that a baby’s vitamin D levels are directly related to the amount of vitamin D consumed by a nursing mother. In one of the scientific study, it was proved that any kind of increase in the consumption of this vitamin by a nursing mother showed increased amounts in the baby too.

A mother breastfeeding her child

Risks of Vitamin D Deficiency in Nursing Mothers

In the dearth of ample amounts of vitamin D in breast milk, your baby may suffer from lower levels of this vital vitamin. Vitamin D deficiency in breastfeeding mother ultimately affects her baby. This deficiency may hamper with your baby’s immune system, bone growth, calcium absorption, muscle replication, etc. Your baby may seem a tiny being, but it takes a lot to make this little human being to grow up into a healthy adult. Also, if you fall under the category of people, who are more prone to vitamin deficiency such as, if you live in colder regions, you have little sun exposure on a daily basis, or you suffer from obesity and other such conditions, you need to be extra careful regarding meeting your vitamin D needs.

How to Raise Vitamin D Levels in Breast Milk

If you have lower levels of Vitamin D in your body, then it may be a wise decision to replenish your daily requirements by increasing your vitamin D intake. The best way to increase the levels of this vitamin in your body is through sun exposure. Bask in the Sun for approximately 20 to 30 minutes a day. Your arms, legs, neck, and face should get enough sunlight, but cover your arms and neck with a thin cloth while enjoying the sunrays. You may have to increase your sun exposure if you have dark skin because your body may take longer to synthesize this vitamin from the sunlight. You can also include vitamin D rich foods in your diet, for example:

  • An egg – It will give you 40 IU
  • 3 oz of cooked salmon fish – 440 IU
  • 3 oz of cooked mackerel fish – 330 IU
  • 1 tablespoon of cod liver oil – 1360 IU
  • Cereals, orange juice, fortified milk, yoghurt, margarine, etc., may also provide you with ample vitamin D.

Recommended Daily Dose of Vitamin D

The daily requirement of Vitamin D for a female in the age bracket of 14 to 50 years is around 600 IU. The daily recommended dosage of vitamin D for a pregnant or a nursing mother is approximately 600 IU, only. Your baby’s daily requirement of this essential vitamin from birth to one year of age is approximately 400 IU and most of the vitamin D requirements of a baby will be met by the mother if the baby is exclusively on breast milk.

Should Lactating Mothers Take Vitamin D Supplements?

If a breastfeeding mother is unable to meet her daily requirements of Vitamin D through any of the dietary sources or through sun exposure, she may have to take the supplements. Many studies had shown improved amounts of vitamin D levels in the baby when the mother took supplements. However, a breastfeeding mother should not take the supplements by her will. It is advised that you consult a doctor, if need be, he will prescribe the dosage of this vitamin in the correct amounts which you can take.

Can Excess Amount of Vitamin D Be Harmful?

This vitamin is very important for the nursing mother and her baby. However, excessive amounts of this vitamin in the body may lead to toxicity in the body, which may cause health complications in the mother and the baby. Therefore, in order to reduce the chances of toxicity, you should consume only the suggested amounts of vitamin d3 while breastfeeding and should not take any supplements without a prescription.

If you are not sure whether you need extra vitamin D or not, meet your doctor and find out. He will prescribe you the daily dose of this vitamin if required. Happy nursing!

Also Read: Is It Safe to Eat Fish While Breastfeeding