When a mom is breastfeeding, she is literally eating for two. Breastfeeding moms are concerned about a healthy diet that will promote their baby’s growth and also avoid harmful substances. Unfortunately, despite their good intentions, many moms have a diet lacking in essential nutrients, says nutrition expert Christina Sherry, PhD. I consulted with her on how to insure that breastfeeding infants receive—and their moms—receive complete nutrition.
Dr. Sherry pointed to three studies that she co-authored regarding nutrition deficits in breastfeeding women. For example, a dietary analysis of breastfeeding moms found that the women consumed 50% or less of fruit, vegetable, and dairy intake as recommended by MyPlate. As a result, the average intakes of 15 vitamins and minerals critical for protecting the health of the mother and/or infant development were below the Estimated Average Requirements (EARs) for this life cycle. For some nutrients, such as iodine and vitamins A, D, and E, less than 20% of the women consumed recommended intakes. In addition, carotenoids and highly unsaturated fatty acids were consumed at low levels by subjects. She and the other authors concluded that, overall, diet alone may be insufficient to meet the high nutrient demands of breastfeeding. They noted that their results stressed the need for further research on the dietary patterns of lactating mothers as well as special consideration of this group of women for diet education initiatives and interventions.
Dr. Sherry offered a simple solution for breastfeeding moms who want to insure a proper level of nutrition for their baby and themselves. Similac, who has been producing infant formulas for more than 85 years has developed a new product: Similac® Breastfeeding Supplement. The supplement comes in a gelcap and is a complement to prenatal vitamins and can help improve levels of DHA, Lutein, and Vitamin E in breast milk.
Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists strongly encourage breastfeeding. For additional information on the Similac supplement, click on this link. The researchers papers Dr. Sherry co-authored can be viewed at these links: Lactating women consume less than the recommendations for many nutrients; Impact of lutein and docosahexaenoic acid supplementation during lactation on plasma and breast milk; and Alpha-tocopherol supplementation in lactating women impacts stereoisomer distribution but not total tocopherol content.