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utritional Medicine
Nutritional Programs for Lactation

© Elson M. Haas MD

For vegetarian women, it is wise to eat the recommended amount of the dairy products and eggs to meet protein and calcium needs, as well as to eat more whole grains and legumes. If milk consumption is minimized, more tofu, legumes, nuts and seeds, and leafy greens and some calcium supplement are recommended. More care in balancing the diet is usually necessary whenever the diet limits specific food groups. Additional protein powder or supplemental amino acids (free form), as powder or capsules (750–1,500 mg. daily) may be useful if the protein intake is not sufficient.

For healthy breastfeeding, mother’s comfort is important. To maintain good milk production, use both breasts regularly and relax before and after nursing. Remember, good fluid and nutrient intake is essential for successful nursing and thus to the growth and development of the baby. Many women tell me that using olive or coconut oil on their nipples keeps their skin healthier and aids nursing. (See earlier Infancy program for further discussion of nursing.)

The nutrient program shown in the table gives the range of values from the minimum requirements to the optimum amounts for the needs of lactation. Refer to the table in the previous section on Pregnancy for comparison with the nutrient needs listed here. The following program refers to the combined intake of diet and nutritional supplements. Chloride, fluoride, phosphorus, potassium, and sodium are not usually supplemented unless shown by testing to be needed.

Nutrient Program for Lactation
(Range — RDAs to Optimum)

Calories* 2,600–3,500
Fiber15–30 g.
Protein*65–90 g.

Vitamin A*7,000–10,000 IUs Calcium*1,200–1,600 mg.
Beta-carotene5,000–15,000 IUs Chloride+2–4 g.
Vitamin D400–600 IUs Chromium200–400 mcg.
Vitamin E*60–400 IUs Copper2–3 mg.
Vitamin K100–400 mcg. Fluoride+1.5–3.5 mg.
Thiamine (B1)1.6–25.0 mg. Iodine*200–400 mcg.
Riboflavin (B2)1.7–25.0 mg. Iron*50–100 mg.
Niacin (B3)18–100 mg. Magnesium*450–1,000 mg.
Pantothenic acid (B5)7–250 mg. Manganese2.5–15 mg.
Pyridoxine (B6)2.5–100 mg. Molybdenum150–500 mcg.
Cobalamin (B12)4–200 mcg. Phosphorus*+1,200–1,600 mg.
Folic acid*600–1,000 mcg. Potassium+2–5 g.
Biotin200–500 mcg. Selenium150–300 mcg.
Choline100–250 mg. Sodium+2.5–4.0 g.
Inositol100–250 mg. Zinc*25–40 mg.
PABA25–100 mg.
Vitamin C*100–2,000 mg.
Bioflavonoids125–250 mg.

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About The Author
Elson M. Haas, MD is founder & Director of the Preventive Medical Center of Marin (since 1984), an Integrated Health Care Facility in San Rafael, CA and author of many books on Health and Nutrition, including ...more
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