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Iron level and vitamin stores for nursing mother?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created June 24, 2011 at 9:39 PM

Can you let me know what I should be testing for to benchmark my current vitamin, iron, etc. level? I'm nursing a 10-month-old and want to make sure that I'm giving him adequant nutrition. I'm also preparing my body for another pregnancy sometime in the future. Thanks!

6426d61a13689f8f651164b10f121d64

(11488)

on June 27, 2011
at 01:50 AM

For mother or baby? As long as one watches their vitamin A intake (i.e. doesn't get too much vit. A) and gets plenty of D and K2, I think it's fine for a nursing mother to take some cod liver oil. I haven't seen any studies on babies taking cod liver oil directly.

93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13

(10502)

on June 27, 2011
at 12:24 AM

What is your take on cod liver oil?

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6 Answers

1
A8d95f3744a7a0885894ee0731c9744c

(3761)

on June 25, 2011
at 08:55 PM

According to my WIC nutritionist wife:

"Her hemoglobin (iron) needs to be at least 12.0, and the child should start eating iron-filled foods on it's own at this point. She should be sure to take a good multi-vitamin, even continuing her pre-natals, if she wants."

0
9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1

on June 27, 2011
at 03:27 PM

During pregnancy and breast feeding of our first kid, my wife craved steak and dark greens with dinner EVERY night. It was just a constant thing, we started to joke about it. Fortunately I like this meal so it worked for the two of us. But it was steak and kale, steak and spinach, steak and chard, etc. virtually every night.

We often thought that this was triggered by her body requiring iron, and that it might have to do with different blood type between her (A+) and the kid (type O), the theory being that type O's require more iron in their diets and tend to favor more meat-oriented and iron-heavy diet. This theory is just based on anecdotal evidence and some reading (i.e. "Eat Right For Your Type"), and was never supported by the doctor.

The pediatrician did comment that my wife's iron levels were among the highest she had seen (in a good way, at the upper end of normal, not too high). There is a common hemoglobin test where they put a drop of your blood in a solution and see if it floats, sinks, and how fast it sinks.

0
332d9f75d1077abafff6887681f6b130

on June 27, 2011
at 11:52 AM

One of Robb Wolf's recent podcasts (I think 3 weeks ago now) covered this topic almost exactly. I believe they even have the transcripts on his website (I can't check it, its blocked by my work proxy.) They go into some pretty good detail about everything.

0
1da74185531d6d4c7182fb9ee417f97f

on June 26, 2011
at 03:19 AM

I'm not a nurse or a doctor so I'm obviously not an expert but from what I've read, iron in breastmilk is much more absorbable than iron from supplements so even though there's less in it, baby should be able to get most of her iron from breastmilk. Food is for fun until they're closer to one years old. That said, get her and yourself tested for iron levels and if you both look good it's probably fine. From what I've read, on the crunchier circles is that iron deficiencies in women are often a gut imbalance from too many iron-hungry bacteria types. So supplementing will often just feed the bacteria and not help iron levels. That's why a lot of anemic pregnant women see no improvement from iron supplementation in pills.

Grassfed liver is a wonderful first food for babies and it's full of iron, B-12, etc. My son likes to chew on big strips of it. He's 6 months but he refuses puree's.

The only supplement I give him is Cod liver oil and D drops. It might be surprising but he LOVES the cod liver oil. He slurps it up hungrily. I think babies intuitively eat what they need as long as we don't dement their taste buds with neolithic agents of disease.

I personally take a high quality prenatal, 6 carlson CLO capsules, 2 DHA carlson capsules, 100mg CoQ10, 180mcg K-2 mk-7, another 4000 Vitamin D-3, B complex, Magnesium, either a half an egg shell in a smoothie or a Calcium complex, and then I make sure I get all my other trace minerals like zinc from shellfish, bone-in sardines, liver, raw pastured egg yolks, and cruciferous veggies on a bi/tri-weekly basis. I also eat lots of red meat, sprinkle nutritional yeast on stuff, and try to listen to my body when it says to eat more veggies.

I feel confident I'm getting enough for junior and I when I eat this way. I don't know if you've done this already but the Westonaprice.org has tons of info on feeding mothers and babies.

0
50637dfd7dc7a7e811d82283f4f5fd10

(5838)

on June 26, 2011
at 01:35 AM

Just found this, here link text

Does pregnancy increase the need for iron? Nutrient requirements increase during pregnancy to support fetal growth and maternal health. Iron requirements of pregnant women are approximately double that of non-pregnant women because of increased blood volume during pregnancy, increased needs of the fetus, and blood losses that occur during delivery [16]. If iron intake does not meet increased requirements, iron deficiency anemia can occur. Iron deficiency anemia of pregnancy is responsible for significant morbidity, such as premature deliveries and giving birth to infants with low birth weight [1,51,59-62].

Low levels of hemoglobin and hematocrit may indicate iron deficiency. Hemoglobin is the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to tissues. Hematocrit is the proportion of whole blood that is made up of red blood cells. Nutritionists estimate that over half of pregnant women in the world may have hemoglobin levels consistent with iron deficiency. In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimated that 12% of all women age 12 to 49 years were iron deficient in 1999-2000. When broken down by groups, 10% of non-Hispanic white women, 22% of Mexican-American women, and 19% of non-Hispanic black women were iron deficient. Prevalence of iron deficiency anemia among lower income pregnant women has remained the same, at about 30%, since the 1980s [63].

The RDA for iron for pregnant women increases to 27 mg per day. Unfortunately, data from the 1988-94 NHANES survey suggested that the median iron intake among pregnant women was approximately 15 mg per day 1. When median iron intake is less than the RDA, more than half of the group consumes less iron than is recommended each day.

Several major health organizations recommend iron supplementation during pregnancy to help pregnant women meet their iron requirements. The CDC recommends routine low-dose iron supplementation (30 mg/day) for all pregnant women, beginning at the first prenatal visit [33]. When a low hemoglobin or hematocrit is confirmed by repeat testing, the CDC recommends larger doses of supplemental iron. The Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences also supports iron supplementation during pregnancy 1. Obstetricians often monitor the need for iron supplementation during pregnancy and provide individualized recommendations to pregnant women.

0
6426d61a13689f8f651164b10f121d64

(11488)

on June 25, 2011
at 08:59 PM

Nursing increases your requirement for many nutrients, including vitamin D, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium and folic acid. Start with a prenatal vitamin that contains iron and 200 to 300 mg of DHA. In addition, add more vitamin D3 to bring your total daily dose of vitamin D3 to 4000 to 5000 units per day.

Ask your doctor to check your 25-OH-vitamin D3 level along with your hemoglobin. If you're healthy, hemoglobin is an adequate iron screening test. If not, consider getting serum iron, ferritin and total iron binding capacity tests.

A nursing infant cannot always get adequate vitamin D from breast milk alone. Therefore, breastfed babies can start vitamin D supplementation 400 units per day starting at birth.

After 6 months, a breastfed infant may need more iron than is available from breast milk alone. At this point, pureed meats can be added to the diet.

The American Academy of Pediatrics website has some good (albeit conventional) info for further reading.

93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13

(10502)

on June 27, 2011
at 12:24 AM

What is your take on cod liver oil?

6426d61a13689f8f651164b10f121d64

(11488)

on June 27, 2011
at 01:50 AM

For mother or baby? As long as one watches their vitamin A intake (i.e. doesn't get too much vit. A) and gets plenty of D and K2, I think it's fine for a nursing mother to take some cod liver oil. I haven't seen any studies on babies taking cod liver oil directly.

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