Sunday, December 21, 2008

Vitamin D, Iron, and Breastmilk

I receive emails from Mayer Eisenstein MD,JD,MPH periodically on different subjects, and this one stood out to me. It was addressing Vitamin D in breastmilk. It always bothered me that pediatricians claim breastmilk to be deficient in anything, as breastmilk is the perfect food. Here is what Dr. Eisenstein had to say about what he had recently learned:

"I attended a lecture by Dr. Bruce Hollis, "The Vitamin D Requirements During Pregnancy and Lactation". All of a sudden it became clear that the reason breastmilk was lacking in Vitamin D is either the mother was not in the sun enough (just 10-15 mins. a day with 40% body exposure will give you 5,000- 10,000 IUD) or because she was not getting enough Vitamin D supplementation.

As Dr. Hollis reported, when breastfeeding mothers have sun exposure or adequate supplementation, the Vitamin D levels in their breastmilk skyrockets. At this point Dr. Hollis' current recommendation is that pregnant and nursing mothers (because of their increased metabolic rate) need at least 6,000-10,000 IUD daily."
Another area of concern is iron. Babies are routinely tested for anemia. Especially breastfed babies. Yes, it is true that iron levels are low in breastmilk, but it is extremely well-absorbed -- 50% absorbed. In formula, only 10% of the iron is absorbed. Ironically, in iron-fortified formula, only 4% is absorbed.
I also have a theory I would like to throw out: Nearly all babies born in American hospitals have the cord clamped immediately after birth, stopping the blood flow from the placenta to the baby. Doing this deprives the baby of approximately 25% of his blood volume. That's huge. Is it possible that this is contributing to 80% of babies being anemic by their 1st birthday?

Your baby is getting all that he or she needs through breastmilk. Not just as an infant, but beyond. My 3rd baby didn't start solid food until 9 months. The pediatrician we had at the time was freaking out, basically telling me I was starving her and I had to
make her eat. I immediately switched doctors. Her new doctor laughed and said, "Look at her! She doesn't look starving to me!" He encouraged us to continue what we were doing and assured me that she would, indeed, one day eat solid food!

Our 4th baby didn't start solid food until after her 1st birthday. I was offering her food frequently -- she just wasn't interested. All of my children have been extremely healthy. Breastmilk will sustain your baby with the best nutrition they could possibly ask for. Don't be in such a hurry to feed your baby solid food. They will eat that their entire life. Starting solids too early substitutes an inferior food for a superior food. Truly, breast (milk) is best.


mayer eisenstein said...

Thank you for sharing this important news on Vitamin D and breastfeeding.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Donna! You are a wealth of information and I will keep nursing knowing my baby is getting good nutrition. Ingrid