Breast milk contains all the nutrients that your baby needs, and they’re all conveniently passed down in the safest way possible. But what exactly makes breast milk so nutritious? Here are just some of the important minerals and vitamins found in breast milk.
Human milk contains two types of proteins: whey and casein1. Breast milk is about 60% whey and 40% casein. This is important because a baby’s digestive system is not fully developed and artificial milk (or formula) usually has a greater percentage of casein, which makes it difficult to digest.
Proteins are needed to help protect babies against infections like e. coli and salmonella. They also stop the growth of bad bacteria in the gut and help protect against viruses.
Although calcium is an important mineral throughout your lifetime, during pregnancy and breastfeeding your demands for it are greater. Both you and your baby need calcium. Calcium helps your baby grow strong bones and teeth and promotes nerve and muscle function.
The amount and types of vitamins in breast milk are directly related to a mother’s vitamin intake1. This means that if you aren’t getting enough vitamins in your diet, then your baby won’t get them either. All vitamins play an important role in keeping your baby healthy but the most important ones are vitamin A, D, E, and K (also known as fat-soluble vitamins).
Vitamin A promotes proper vision and healthy skin while vitamin D increases calcium absorption and helps with bone growth. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant and vitamin K helps with normal blood clotting.
For moms that aren’t able to get their daily recommended vitamin intake, look into postpregnancy supplement. This will help you get what you and your baby need.
Lactose is a type of carbohydrate found in human milk and accounts for approximately 40% of the total calories provided by breast milk1. It helps to decrease the number of unhealthy bacteria in the stomach which improves the absorption of calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium. Lactose also helps fight disease and provides long-term energy for your baby1.
Last but not least on the list of important nutrition passed down to your baby is fat. Fat is your baby’s primary source of energy and essential for their health. As a nursing mother, your diet does not influence how much fat is in your milk, but it does influence what kinds of fat are in your milk. Eat healthy fats to promote your baby’s growth and development.
Breast milk has the perfect combination of proteins, fats, vitamins, and carbohydrates for your baby. It can also protect against infections and reduce the rates of later health problems including diabetes, obesity, and asthma.
1-American pregnancy association. What’s in breast milk? http://americanpregnancy.org/first-year-of-life/whats-in-breastmilk/