Optimal Lactation Nutrition

Optimal Lactation Nutrition

 As a breastfeeding mother, it's important to make sure you are eating healthily and getting the necessary nutrients during your pregnancy. Optimal nutrition during lactation is not only beneficial for your baby, but it also helps to reduce your risk of various health conditions Unfortunately, current Dietary Guidelines suggest that many women may not be optimizing their diet effectively and could benefit from increasing the consumption of some important nutrition. So what should you focus on? Here is a guide on some critical nutrients to make sure that both you and your baby's needs are met.

Calories: Your caloric requirements are based on age, metabolism, and activity levels, however a breastfeeding mother should have a daily caloric intake of around 2200 to 2400 calories. These calories should be sourced from whole grains, lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy, but limit the amount of added sugars, sodium, and saturated fat you consume.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Different types of omega-3 fatty acids like DHA (docosahesxaenoic acid), ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) are all essential for the growth and development of your baby. The daily consumption of DHA when breastfeeding can pass on these benefits to your baby and continues to be accumulated in the brain during the first two years of their life. It is recommended that you get 1.3 grams of omega-3 fatty acids every day. Generally, it is recommended that you get 1 gram of EPA omega-3, but you may need more than 300 milligrams of DHA due to metabolic inefficiencies and increased demand from the baby. You may take a genetic test to help identify if you require extra DHA.

Choline: An adequate intake of choline while breastfeeding is essential to the brain and spinal cord development of your baby. You should strive for around 550 milligrams of choline daily. Research has proven that consuming 930 mg of choline during the third trimester of pregnancy can aid attention and cognitive skills up to age 7. Choline can be found in food sources like eggs, meat, beans, peas, lentils, and seafood. Those with metabolic inefficiencies or an inability to activate choline production may need to increase their choline intake. A simple genetic test can help determine if this is the case.

 Iodine: Breast milk is the sole source of iodine for babies who are exclusively breastfed, so it is critical to ensure your body has adequate amounts of iodine. This helps regulate your baby's thyroid and supports their neurological and skeletal development. It is recommended to get 290 micrograms of iodine daily while lactating, and it can be found in dairy, eggs, seafood, and salt.

Folate: Folate requirements are higher while breastfeeding, but not as much as when pregnant. To meet these needs, 500 micrograms of folate should be consumed every day. This can be obtained from dark leafy green vegetables, fruits, fruit juice, nuts, beans, seafood, eggs, dairy, meat, and poultry. Up to 50% of women have difficulty metabolizing folic acid into usable forms of folate, so if you are using a supplement with folic acid, you may want to get a genetic test to identify if you need to supplement with other forms of folate in order to provide your baby with enough.

Alcohol: To be on the safe side, abstain from drinking alcohol while breastfeeding. However, if you do choose to drink, make sure to wait at least two hours before breastfeeding or pumping breast milk.

Nutrition Supplements: To make sure you meet your nutritional needs while lactating, nutritional supplements can be taken, but not in replacement of a healthy diet. Talk to your healthcare provider about which type of supplement is best for you. Additionally, you may benefit from taking a nutrigenetic test to help personalize your nutritional needs.


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