The concept of prenatal vitamins is common knowledge, it’s important to nourish the body with adequate nutrients during pregnancy. However, this concept of important nourishment doesn’t stop once baby is born. For mothers who are breastfeeding, adequate vitamin and mineral support is essential for providing baby with ample nutrient supply. While there are a number of nutrients that play a vital role for breastfeeding health, one important nutrient that provides numerous benefits for breastfeeding mothers and nursing babies is choline.
1. Choline Supports Breast Milk Production
Nursing mothers need plenty of nutrients to maintain their health and support breast milk production. One nutrient that is often overlooked is choline. This water-soluble vitamin is essential for many bodily functions, including breast milk production. Additionally, it aids in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.
Some studies have shown that supplementation with the nutrient or added intake can increase breast milk production in mothers struggling to produce enough milk. Likewise, nursing mothers who consume choline adequately are more likely to have higher milk production levels. In addition, it has been shown to improve not only the production of breastmilk but the quality of breast milk as well, and even help protect mom and baby against infections.
2. Improves Cognitive Function
Choline helps to support the development of the brain and nervous system. In fact, research has shown that prenatal intake can help improve breastfed babies’ cognitive function. One study even found that choline-supplemented pregnant women had infants with better memory scores at four months old. It has also been shown to help reduce the risk of developing certain neurological ailments like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Low dietary nutrient levels of choline have been linked to an increased risk of neural tube defects, so nursing mothers should ensure they get enough of it in their diets. While it is found in many foods, it is also available as a supplement or supplement ingredient in multi-nutrient formulas, which are often recommended for pregnant and lactating women. However, it is important to speak with a healthcare provider before taking any supplements, as they can interact with certain medications.
3. Prevents Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression is a serious and common condition that can affect new mothers. It can cause feelings of sadness, anxiety, sleep disorders, and fatigue. While researching treatment options to overcome this condition, choline has been shown to help protect against postpartum depression by reducing stress levels and improving mood. Additionally, it reduces the risk of developing certain mental health disorders, such as anxiety and schizophrenia. While more research is needed in this area, it is clear that it plays an important role in mental health.
4. Improves Cholesterol Levels
In addition to breastfeeding health, this nutrient is also important for heart health, as it helps to regulate cholesterol levels and reduce inflammation. Numerous studies have shown that breastfeeding supplementation can help decrease low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels and improve high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels. It has also been shown to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis or the arteries hardening.
These effects are thought to be due to the nutrient’s ability to reduce inflammation and prevent the build-up of plaque in the arteries, and has been shown to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease. Thus, making it an essential nutrient for both mother and child, providing numerous cardiovascular health benefits.
5. Supports Liver Health
During breastfeeding, the liver needs to work extra hard to remove toxins from the body, and getting enough choline can help to support liver function and prevent damage to liver cells. The nutrient helps to support liver health by helping to produce new cells and providing a source of energy for the liver.
In addition, it helps to prevent fat build-up in the liver. That is important because fat build-up can lead to liver disease. It also helps to reduce inflammation in the liver which can lead to damage of the liver’s cells.
6. Choline is Important for Bone Health
Bone loss is common during lactation, as the body loses calcium to produce breast milk. Choline can help to prevent bone loss by increasing calcium absorption and improving bone density. It helps to form new bone and to repair damaged bone, and has also been shown to reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis.
7. Maintains Maternal Immunity
The nutrient, choline, is also essential for the development and function of the immune system. It helps to reduce inflammation and promote healing. Additionally, it has been shown to reduce the risk of certain infections, such as pneumonia. For these reasons, it is an important nutrient for both mother and child, as it helps to support immunity and promote healing.
Getting enough of this nutrient is essential for both mother and baby to stay healthy, through pregnancy and well through the breastfeeding stages of postpartum. It provides numerous benefits, including promoting milk production, reducing stress levels, improving mood, supporting liver function, promoting bone health, and is important to maintaining maternal immunity. For women who are breastfeeding, including foods rich in choline such as egg yolks, red meat, and liver (foods higher in saturated fat) as well as lower saturated fat foods such as salmon, cod, tilapia, chicken breast and legumes are good options for incorporating this nutrient into a diet. Additionally, taking a breastfeeding or postpartum supplement that includes choline can ensure that mom and baby are getting enough of this important nutrient.