Optimum nutrition when breastfeeding

As soon as they fall pregnant mom’s-to-be are advised to start taking nutritional supplements to help meet their increased nutritional needs.

Dietician, Andrea du Plessis advises that nutrition during breast-feeding is vitally important, for the mother as much as for the baby. The energy, protein, and other nutrients in breast-milk come from the mother’s diet or from her body stores. If there are nutritional shortages at this time the mother’s body will ensure that her milk, and thereby the growing baby, receive the necessary nutrients.

The mother’s own energy and nutrient reserves will suffer, a process called maternal depletion. All breast-feeding mothers should therefore know how to optimise their nutritional intake for optimal health.


RDI:                        1 300mg per day

Function:             Building material for bone as well as maintenance of the mother’s bone density

Sources:               Dairy products, tinned sardines (bones), anchovy paste, dark green leafy vegetables, almonds. Since it is unlikely that optimal daily dietary intake of calcium will be achieved, supplementation is highly recommended


RDI:                        310mg

Function:             Helps with calcium absorption, building of bone tissue and muscle development and functioning

Sources:               Dark-green leafy vegetables, legumes, sardines, breakfast cereals, lean red meat, nuts


RDI:                        12mg

Function:             Formation of DNA (genetic material), tissue formation and maintenance in mother and baby

Sources:               Lean meat, seafood, whole grains, dried beans, eggs


RDI:                        1.3mg

Function:             Energy metabolism assists growth and development of new body tissues in mother and baby

Sources:               Whole grains, breakfast cereals, dairy, eggs, legumes, nuts, green vegetables


RDI:                        2mg

Function:             Supports protein metabolism that forms part of the growth of new body tissues in mother and baby

Sources:               Eggs, lean meat, whole grains, nuts, dairy


RDI:                        2.8µg

Function:             Important for division of blood cells and may help in the prevention of anaemia

Sources:               Lean meat and poultry, dairy, eggs


Since it is highly unlikely that new moms will be able to achieve sufficient calcium intake to meet the increased needs resulting from breast-milk production, supplementation is vital. To ensure optimal nutritional value, calcium supplements should be formulated with magnesium and vitamin D.

Supplemental intake of 400-800mg per day is recommended over and above typical dietary intake, which usually ranges from 400-800mg per day.


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