Welcome to Mommy's Milk : A Breastfeeding Series. This month, on African Babies Don't Cry I am focusing on the very important topic of breastfeeding, be sure to check out all the posts in this series!
In a word, yes! You should definitely be supplementing your diet with, well, supplements! Heres why:
Not long ago, I was a firm disbeliever in supplements. I thought they were all part of a money making racket, and made up of cheap fillers that made no real difference to your health. I believed that eating a healthy diet of whole foods would meet your bodies nutritional requirements. That was until I had a health scare myself. Many tests were run, but the results that stuck in my head were those that illustrated how deficient in vital vitamins I was. It was shocking.
Our food is not as nutritious as days gone by!
|Photo Courtesy of Marisa from Hippie Safari, photographed by Melissa van Zyl|
Since then I have been researching vitamins and other supplements and how best to get what your body requires. First and foremost you need a varied diet of whole foods, plenty of fruit and vegetables and a good source of essential fats. Over and above this, due to the way in which fruit and vegetables are grown these days with an abundance of pesticides and only chemically replicated fertilisers, supplements are vital.
I found that Patrick Holford's books have some of the best information out there concerning what you should be taking, why, and the repercussions of being deficient. He shares plenty of studies showing the improvement of health and wellness after starting a supplement regimen.
So, what should a breastfeeding mother be taking to ensure her milk is as nutritious as possible for a growing baby?
A good multivitamin and multi-mineral. You really get what you pay for with multivitamins, the cheaper the supplement generally the more laden it is with cheap fillers and un-absorbable nutrients. I have found that among the best are the Patrick Holford range and the Solal Technologies range. It is crucial that you take a multivitamin and mineral daily, especially if you are taking any other vitamins such as Vitamin C, as you can upset the very delicate balance that is your body and make yourself deficient.
A good pro-biotic. Due to the modern diet our guts are in a shocking state. Most modern day foods strip the gut of precious bacterial enzymes, allowing the bad bacteria to flourish resulting in all sorts of complaints from irritable bowel syndrome to thrush. Also, people don't realise that a lot of the bacteria that should be in your gut to help with digestion and produce vitamins such as B12, only stick around for a couple of days and then pass through. It is important to keep replacing these bacteria, and if you are not doing so by eating fermented foods daily and adhering to a very healthy diet then taking a pro-biotic is crucial.
An Omega supplement including GLA (Omega 6), DHA and EPA (Omega 3). I cannot begin to stress how important fats are for yourself and for your babies growing brain. The brain is mostly made up of essential fatty acids. If you are deficient in fats, it affects your IQ, period. With the modern day diet most of us have a high intake of bad fats, such as saturated fat (fried foods) and a deficiency in essential fats that are found in nuts, seeds and Avocado's. Taking an omega supplement which includes things like salmon oil, flaxseed oil and borage oil helps to keep the brain functioning at an optimal level, also improving things like concentration and mood.
A high dose Vitamin C or Anti-oxidant supplement. Due to the fact that Vitamin C is a water soluble nutrient it is impossible to overdose on it. Taking a high dose vitamin C supplement daily helps to keep your immune system functioning at an optimum level, as well as helping your body fight off baddies such as pollution, heavy metals and pesticides.
Vitamin B complex with folic acid. Vitamin B is essential for keeping up a nursing mothers strength. It is also vital for your babies growth and development. We know how important it is to supplement with folic acid whilst pregnant but it is just as important to do so whilst nursing, it is essential for brain and nerve function.
Garlic oil: There has been much research on the effects of garlic on the immune system and all agree that it has wonderful healing properties. Garlic is a natural antibiotic and is antifungal. This supplement is relatively affordable, and I cannot come up with a reason not to take it.
A 'green' powder such as Aim's Barleylife. Getting the required amount of green vegetables in our diet nowadays is almost impossible. A green powder supplement is generally made from dehydrated barley grass, and is jam-packed full of nourishment as well as fantastic anti-cancer properties. It is worth looking at a green powder that also contains seaweed, especially Spirulina.
A note on RDA's (Recommended Daily Allowance), these are set as the minimum amount of each nutrient one should be consuming on a day, and not the maximum amount. Therefore, it is best to over supplement than to under-supplement. I have found Patrick Holford's books have the best information on RDA's as well as Evie's Kitchen by Shazzie .