Nursing mothers, especially those following vegan and vegetarian diets, may find that they need to be strategic about what they eat to ensure that both they and their children are getting all of the nutrients they need.
Here’s a list of 3 essential vitamins that breastfeeding vegan and vegetarian moms need that can be difficult to get from diet alone.
One of the chief nutrients required in greater quantities through pregnancy and beyond is calcium. Pregnant and nursing mothers require 1,000 to 1,300 mg of calcium per day and can lose up to 5% of their bone mass while nursing. A quality, pregnancy-safe calcium supplement has the potential to help circumvent bone density loss and help rebuild bones faster after pregnancy, especially for vegan moms who may find it difficult to meet their calcium requirements through diet alone.
If your calcium supplement only contains calcium, it may not be working as well as you hope. The calcium you take does the most for your body when it’s able to work in conjunction with two other important nutrients: vitamin D3 and vitamin K2.
Aside from being another essential nutrient for breastfeeding mothers (for reasons explained below), vitamin D3 helps encourage calcium uptake through the intestine so that more of the calcium you ingest is absorbed quicker. Vitamin K2 assists in the absorption process, directing ingested calcium away from the arteries and encouraging it to bind to the bones.
Studies have shown that if a breastfeeding woman is deficient in vitamin D, her baby will consequently be vitamin D deficient from the lack of the nutrient in her breast milk.
It can be difficult to ensure that you are getting enough vitamin D from sunshine alone. When it comes to diet, vitamin D is mostly found in meat, dairy, and other animal products—which presents an obvious problem for vegetarian and vegan moms.
Vitamin D3 is an essential nutrient for both mother and baby, as it helps to:
- Strengthen the immune system
- Build and maintain strong bones
- Support calcium absorption
To ensure these moms are getting adequate amounts of vitamin D during pregnancy and nursing, they should consider taking a pregnancy-safe, vegan vitamin D3 supplement.
Here are some of the benefits of consuming enough vitamin B12:
- Helps produce energy and combat fatigue
- Supports healthy regulation of the nervous system
- Helps maintain a strong digestive system
- Essential for healthy hair, skin, and nails
Unfortunately for vegetarian and vegan moms, Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient that is primarily found in animal products. While you can sometimes find soy foods, certain meat substitutes, and brewer’s yeast to contain trace amounts of the vitamin, it’s common for vegan moms to take a vitamin B12 supplement while they are breastfeeding to ensure they are consuming enough each day.
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