Minerals – A Vital Part Of A Breastfeeding Diet

When breastfeeding, your diet is very important. The quality of breast milk can be reduced if the diet of a breastfeeding mother is poor or deficient in certain substances. Minerals are very important to your baby; there are building blocks that will help to ensure your baby’s development now and in the future.

Your breast milk contains all the nutrients your baby needs to thrive. A baby that is exclusively breastfeed only gets the minerals it needs from its mother. Therefore, it’s extremely important that a breastfeeding mother is getting her daily quota of minerals. But for many new mothers, the early days, weeks and months after the birth can be a tiring time and eating a healthy diet that contains all the minerals it should may not seem possible. The good news is that eating a healthy, well-balanced diet isn’t that hard; eating meat, dairy products 5 fruit and vegetables every day is all you need do.

As well as other nutrients, like vitamins and protein, minerals play an important part in your baby’s development. A nursing mother should be aware of what minerals are important and what part of her diet provides these minerals.

Zinc has a wide range of functions that ensure the healthy development of a baby. It helps with the healing of wounds and is an important component of many enzyme reactions. Zinc is essential for a healthy immune system and resistance to infection. And, if you want your baby to have a good complexion and lovely skin then you should make sure that you’re getting your daily intake of zinc.

The body is very poor at absorbing zinc – only about 20% of the zinc present in our diet is actually absorbed. Also, the body does not store zinc – it needs to be replaced with zinc found in the food we eat.

The following foods are rich in zinc:

Sardines are an especially good source of zinc!
Red meat
Tahini paste (chick peas)
Whole meal bread
Baked beans
Cheddar cheese
Fruit yogurt
Pumpkin seed
Peanut butter

Getting enough iron is important in the first year of life. Babies who are breastfed suffer far less iron deficiency in later life. Iron is needed to make hemoglobin – a pigment that is found in our red blood cells. Hemoglobin carries oxygen around our bodies. Contrary to what people may tell you, you can obtain iron from other foods apart from red meat. Foods that are rich in iron are:

Lean beef, lamb and kidney
Dark chicken or turkey meat
Baked potatoes
Red lentils, chick-peas, baked beans, kidney beans
Green vegetables like broccoli, peas, spring greens, spinach, and curly kale
Dried fruits like apricots, prunes and figs

Calcium is important for the development and healthy maintenance of bones. Your baby is growing very fast and, at the same time, her bones are hardening. Calcium is needed for this to happen. Milk is one of the best sources of calcium, so if you like milk, now is the time to drink plenty of it. Milk is not only a good source of calcium but it’s also a good source of protein, zinc, vitamin B2 and vitamin B12. The good news is you don’t have to drink full-fat milk either; skimmed and semi-skimmed milk contains the same nutrients but with much less fat.

When breastfeeding your calcium requirement is the equivalent of drinking 1 2/3 pints of milk. So, if you drink plenty of milk and other dairy products you’ll be getting all the calcium you need. Don’t despair if the thought of consuming of that much dairy produce is off-putting or if you’re a vegan, calcium can be found in non-milk foods.

The following are equivalent to consuming a third of a pint of milk:

2 sardines from a tin of fish in oil
One-sixth of a pack of tofu
1 glass (7oz) of calcium enriched soya milk
5 dried figs
6 medium slices of white bread
48 whole almonds
4 tablespoons of cooked spinach

Eating a well-balanced and varied diet will give you all the minerals you need for breastfeeding your baby. The minerals mentioned above are not the only ones required for both you and your child but they are the most important. If you have doubts you should ask your doctor. Breastmilk is an amazing food source; it maintains the right amounts of nutrients required for your baby during its growth, even in women whose diet is not perfect.