Zinc while Breastfeeding: How It Helps

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Are you wondering if you can take zinc while breastfeeding? Zinc is an essential mineral that plays a variety of roles in the body. It helps build hormones, enzymes and proteins and it is important for immune system functioning.

Zinc also helps regulate growth and development, as well as blood sugar balance. For mothers who are breastfeeding, zinc is extremely important because it helps with milk production and can even improve the nutritional quality of the breast milk.

Figuring out what to eat while breastfeeding can be confusing at times. So let’s dive into the benefits of zinc while breastfeeding.

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Overview Of Zinc’s Role In Breastfeeding

Zinc is an important mineral found in breast milk, and it plays a critical role in the development of healthy infants. Zinc helps to support the growth and maintenance of healthy cells, proper immune system functioning and wound healing.

It also aids in the absorption of other important minerals and vitamins such as calcium, iron, magnesium and selenium.

Zinc is essential for the healthy development of a baby’s brain and nervous system, as well as its eyesight and hearing. Adequate amounts of zinc in breast milk support normal growth, digestion and metabolism.

Best Sources Of Zinc while Breastfeeding

Vegetables, such as spinach, peas, mushrooms and broccoli are extremely rich in this mineral. Zinc in vegetables is found in both plant-based proteins and grains, as well as vegetables with green color that are high in chlorophyll.

Zinc can be found in nuts and seeds like pumpkin or squash seeds, which contain more zinc than other nuts.

Check out our favorite pumpkin lactation recipes for some ideas!

Other vegetables that are good sources of zinc include asparagus, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower. Though these in particular may be foods to avoid while breastfeeding (or moderate) because they can cause gas in your baby. So be aware when consuming and watch for any symptoms in your baby.

The good thing is all vegetables contain some amount of zinc, so any vegetables you eat can contribute to your daily intake. Eating a diverse variety of vegetables is important for getting the most zinc from your breastfeeding diet.

Legumes such as beans, lentils and chickpeas are excellent sources of zinc. They contain both plant-based proteins and zinc, making them an ideal combination for a healthy diet. 

Freezing vegetables is also an effective way to preserve the zinc content in vegetables, as freezing vegetables preserves much of their nutritional value. Check out these freezer meals or breastfeeding moms for some ideas.

Taking a daily postnatal multivitamin that contains zinc can help to ensure adequate levels in breastfeeding mothers. Consult your health practitioner before taking any supplements, to make sure they are a good choice for nursing mothers.

Benefits Of Zinc for Breastfed Babies

Zinc is important for a variety of functions in an infant’s body, including proper growth and development. It helps support a healthy immune system, enables the body to utilize carbohydrates, fats and proteins, and repairs cells. 

Zinc also plays an important role in the synthesis of DNA and RNA, which are essential for growth.

In addition to these benefits, zinc is important for breastfed babies because it helps with the absorption of vitamins A, D and E as well as calcium. 

It also helps reduce inflammation in the intestines and keeps the gut healthy by preventing bacterial overgrowth.

Tips To Ensure Adequate Intake Of Zinc While Nursing

Here’s some tips to make sure you’re getting enough zinc while breastfeeding:

1 – Follow a balanced breastfeeding diet plan that consists of zinc-rich foods such as lean meats, shellfish, legumes, nuts and seeds, whole grains and dairy products will help to adequate amounts of zinc.

2 -Taking a zinc supplement specifically designed to support the needs of breastfeeding mothers is commonly advised because this type of supplement may contain more zinc than general multivitamin/mineral supplements, and could help make up for any dietary deficiencies in zinc.

3- Eat foods that are naturally high in zinc, such as oysters and lean meats, on a regular basis.

4 – Making sure to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day in order to stay hydrated and help ensure adequate absorption of zinc from food sources. These lactation drinks are all good options.

Risks Associated With Zinc Deficiency

The risks of zinc deficiency include impaired immune system, growth and development delay, poor cognitive performance, inadequate weight gain, and an increased risk of infections. 

Zinc is also essential for proper thyroid gland functioning which regulates metabolism and helps to ensure that nutrients are properly absorbed from foods and it plays an important role in helping the body to heal from injuries and infections.

How much zinc do you need while breastfeeding?

It’s recommended that lactating women take a daily supplement containing at least 15 mg of zinc in order to ensure adequate levels of this important mineral for both herself and her baby. (source)

By taking a daily supplement of zinc, lactating mothers can ensure that their bodies are able to produce breast milk with adequate amounts of the nutrient for their babies.

Symptoms Of Zinc Deficiency

Signs that our bodies lack zinc may include:

  • fatigue
  • loss of appetite
  • lack of concentration
  • weakened immune system

If breastfeeding, symptoms may include a decrease in milk supply and low energy levels. 

It is important to speak with a healthcare provider if any of the above symptoms are present, as well as to discuss any supplementation plans. A healthcare provider may order testing to diagnose and monitor zinc levels in breastfeeding moms.  

Zinc is an essential nutrient for breastfeeding mothers and their babies. It plays a role in the development of many bodily processes from digestion to immune system health. 

Breastfeeding mothers should ensure they are getting enough zinc through diet or supplementation as it can have long-term effects on both mother and baby’s health. 

If you find that your breastfed infant has signs of zinc deficiency such as poor growth or stunted development, consult with your doctor about supplementing with additional sources of this important mineral. 

More on Breastfeeding Diet

Best Foods to Increase Milk Supply

Moringa Benefits for Breastfeeding

Caffeine While Breastfeeding

Best Protein Shakes for Breastfeeding

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