On average, babies will double in weight by their 5th month. As you can probably guess, such an intense growth rate demands a dense source of nutrition, and breast milk is the ideal source of that nutrition. The biological recipes for bones, cartilage, muscle, and fat are dependent upon the same vitamins and minerals that maintain our bodies. That is why pediatricians always recommend postnatal vitamin supplementation. This supplementation is both for the mother and the child, and the following vitamins are absolutely vital.
Profile: Vitamin D
- Alternate Name: Cholecalciferol
- Daily Dose: 5000 – 6000 IU
- Solubility: Fat
As a newborn baby grows, they build bones at a very rapid rate. In many cases, vitamin d supplementation can increase calcium absorption by up to 200 percent. Vitamin d is a unique vitamin since ingestion isn’t the only means of acquiring it. Exposure to sunlight is one way to access this particular nutrient. Unfortunately, most mothers are not typically exposed to sufficient levels of sunlight, so supplementation is necessary. According to recent studies, this deficiency applies to roughly 80 percent of mothers. When there is a deficiency, a condition called rickets can be the outcome. It is a disease characterized by weak and soft bones. You can see examples of this deficiency in people with legs that bow out at the knees.
Calcium absorption is the only proven benefit of vitamin d, but there is a lot of research the demonstrates a clear connection between this vitamin and positive effects on immune regulation and susceptibility to depression.
Profile: Vitamin C
- Alternate Name: Ascorbic Acid
- Recommended Daily Dose: 100 mg
- Solubility: Water
Vitamin c, also called ascorbic acid, is probably the most well-known vitamin in the world. Its positive effects on our immune systems actively protect us against many sources of infections. It is also one of the most accessible antioxidants on the market. Vitamin c does more than just defend against invaders from the inside. It also plays a crucial role in the formation of collagen and the maintenance and repair of the skin. It is perfect for a newborn.
For breast milk, supplementation can be a bit tricky. As always, the ideal source of nutrition will come from a balanced diet of foods that naturally provide a healthy amount of vitamins and minerals. However, the average diet is far from perfect, so those supplements are fantastic for the areas where our diets drop the ball. Unsurprisingly, evidence shows that the body tightly regulates mother’s milk, so it can be a bit picky. Unless vitamin c levels are very low, the milk will not be bolstered by vitamin supplementation. If it is low, then it will pass into the milk. Natural sources of vitamin c are readily accepted into the milk.
Profile: Vitamin B12
- Alternate Name: Cobalamin
- Daily Dose: 3.4 mcg
- Solubility: Water
All b vitamins should be incorporated into the diet, but b12 deserves some special attention. Its utterly vital contribution to the development of the brain and the entire nervous system cannot be overstated. Every animal provides milk that is specially tuned to grow the attributes of its own species. Seal milk builds blubber, cow milk builds muscles, and human milk builds a very powerful brain. That focus on the brain is what makes b12 essential to a human newborn, and inadequate levels can lead to permanent brain damage. B6 also deserves an honorable mention here for the very same developmental reasons.
Vegetarian mothers must take note because B12 is almost exclusively found in animal sources. Sea-plants such as kelp and seaweed are the exception to this rule. However, the b12 content is inconsistent. Don’t worry. I’m not saying to eat animals. You just need to be aware of the need to supplement this particular vitamin. There are modern-day options through supplements, injections, and nutritionally fortified foods. For additional information, please see the Whoop Wellness’ guide “Breastfeeding as a vegan“.
Profile: Vitamin A
- Alternate Name: Retinol
- Daily Dose: 5000 IU
- Solubility: Fat
Newborn babies require this vitamin for the proper construction of their eyes. Without a sufficient source, there is a possibility that the child may develop nyctalopia. This is often referred to as night blindness which can make it very difficult to see anything in dim lighting.
Along with vitamins c and d, vitamin a is also a substantial contributor to building a robust immune system. Low levels make it difficult for the body to withstand the onslaught of childhood diseases. This vitamin helps to trigger the immune response, it participates in the construction of the virus-fighting T cells, and it builds the mucous barriers that keep the microorganisms out. It essentially establishes a wall and provides reinforcements for the biological military.
Profile: Vitamin E
- Alternate Name: Tocopherols
- Daily Dose: 30 IU
- Solubility: Fat
There are slight, but recorded advantages to those that received sufficient levels of vitamin e in their early years. This is increasingly evident in children that were breastfed since their vitamin E reserves, on average, are relatively more substantial than their peers. The main advantages are healthier blood vessels and improved mental development. It also protects the baby from a type of anemia that destroys red blood vessels faster than the body can build them. Finally, it guards the lungs against damage caused by ventilators that are commonly used to help newborn babies to breathe.
I hope that this information has been useful to you and your baby. Postnatal vitamin supplementation is more than a good idea. It is a necessity. Proper nutrition in the first year of a child’s life will have profound impacts across the rest of their life.