What are other nutrients of particular concern during breast feeding?

Other nutrients of particular concern during breast feeding are:

Protein

A breast feeding mother requires additional dietary protein to ensure there is adequate amount of protein in her breast milk. While the mean protein intakes in both Australia and New Zealand demonstrate that protein intake in childbearing women appearssufficient to meet the additional requirements of pregnancy and breast feeding,11 evaluation of protein requirements should be made on an individual basis. Protein is vital for the growth, maintenance and repair of cells. The Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) for protein for breast feeding mothers is 67g/day (1.1g/kg of body weight).10

Protein is found in a wide range of foods such as meat (including fish and poultry), eggs, dairy, legumes (such as beans, pulses and soy products) and nuts. Smaller amounts of protein are found in grain-based foods such as bread and pasta.

Folate

Folate is a B vitamin needed for healthy growth and development.

The RDI for folate for breast feeding mothers is 500μg/day.10

Folate can be found in leafy vegetables, wholegrains, peas, nuts, avocado and yeast extract spreads (e.g. Promite,® Vegemite,® Marmite®).

Iodine

Iodine is an essential mineral needed for the production of the thyroid hormone which helps in brain and nervous system development.

The RDI for iodine for breast feeding mothers is 270μg/day.10

The NHMRC Australia12 and the New Zealand MOH13 both recommend all healthy pregnant and breast feeding mothers take an iodine supplement of 150μg each day.

Iodine can be found in seafood, milk, iodised salt and vegetables.

Supplements containing seaweed or kelp are not recommended for breast feeding women due to the variability in iodine content and quality.

Zinc

Zinc is a component of various enzymes that help maintain structural integrity of proteins and help regulate gene expression.

The RDI for zinc for breast feeding mothers is 12mg/day.10 Zinc can be found in lean meat, wholegrain cereals, milk, seafood, legumes and nuts.

Vitamin A/Beta-carotene

Vitamin A is vital for normal growth. Vitamin A helps provide resistance to infections.14

The RDI for Vitamin A for breast feeding mothers is 1,100μg/day.10

Vitamin A can be found in milk, cheese, eggs, fatty fish, and organ meats.

Beta-carotene, which enables the body to manufacture vitamin A, can be found in yellow-orange vegetables such as carrots and pumpkin, fruits such as mangoes and apricots and in other vegetables such as spinach and broccoli.

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is important for the metabolism of protein and the formation of red blood cells.

The RDI for breast feeding mothers is 2mg/day.10

Vitamin B6 can be found in meat, poultry, fish, whole grains, brussel sprouts, green peas and beans.

Omega-3

Long-Chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (LCPUFAs) consumed and accumulated in early pregnancy by the breast feeding mother provide a significant addition of LCPUFAs in the breast milk and subsequently the breast feeding babies diet.

The recommendation for Omega-3 for breast feeding is 145mg/day.10

Foods rich in Omega-3 are oily fish, green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds and some plant oils (soybean, canola, flaxseed and walnut oils).

Water/Fluids

Breast feeding mothers should drink an average of 9 cups of fluid daily10 with the majority coming from water. Fluid intake can be a combination of water, milk, juice and other drinks.

It may be helpful for the breast feeding mother to drink after each breast feed, as well as drinking regularly throughout other times of the day.