Studies have shown that seasonal weather conditions do impact vitamin levels, particularly vitamin D during winter months. Nearly half of all Americans are vitamin D-deficient, which can be especially concerning during cold and flu season, coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic. Vitamin D isn’t the only vitamin that people, and more specifically pregnant and nursing mothers, should be concerned about.
In addition to vitamin D, vitamin C, B-vitamins, and zinc are all crucial for immune health and support. For breastfeeding mothers, it’s imperative their vitamin levels are optimal, not only for themselves but for their babies as well.
So what should mothers know about these crucial vitamins during the winter season?
Vitamin D is essential for overall immune health, and helps regulate calcium and phosphate in the body, which is crucial for healthy bones, teeth and muscles. While it's possible to get vitamin D from diet alone, pregnant and nursing mothers are advised to take a dietary supplement to ensure they’re receiving enough. It’s also recommended that babies receive vitamin D supplements to meet optimal levels of the vitamin.
Vitamin C is crucial for immune support, and helps to heal wounds. It also helps protect and support cells and is a key component of maintaining healthy skin, blood vessels, and bones and cartilage. Optimal vitamin C levels should be achieved through a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables. The best sources of vitamin C are citrus fruits, strawberries, broccoli, brussel sprouts and peppers to name a few.
B-vitamins are a group of eight water-soluble vitamins that include B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folate), and B12 (cobalamin). While each serves a different function, they all contribute to cell metabolism and help boost nervous system health, cellular renewal and immune functions.
While these eight vitamins can be found in a variety of foods, such as whole grains, eggs and dairy products, nuts, meat and more, supplements will ease mothers’ work in ensuring they are getting the right level of vitamins.
Zinc is an important vitamin that should not be overlooked during dark winter months. Zinc is a critical vitamin in fighting off viruses and bacterial infections. It has been proven as an effective tool to prevent and ward off common colds. Supplements are often one of the best ways to ensure optimal levels of zinc.
All of these vitamins and nutrients are critical because not only do they help mothers boost their immune systems, but these vitamins are passed down to their babies through breast milk. As we continue to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, understanding your vitamin levels, and how this impacts both your own health and your babies, is crucial.