Sunday, February 6th, 2011

Protein Needs Met On A Raw & Vegan Diet While Breastfeeding

by Kristen Suzanne in breastfeeding

I received this question via email about nursing with protein and supplement needs. I thought I’d share my answer with everyone…

HI Kristen,

I would like to say I really enjoy your blog! I am very interested in the raw food diet. I have made a few changes over the last 2-3 weeks to eat more raw food. About 3 weeks ago I bought a juicer and my husband and I juice everyday…so much fun. I started making almond milk this past week and love it with my protein powder every morning instead of cow’s milk.

I am not vegan or vegetarian, which is slowly changing one day at a time but in reality I don’t really have that much animal products, and if I do its from organc-grassfed-sustainable-local farms. I have been eating organic food for the last 2 years. My question is, I am nursing my 3 month old little girl and of course need protein, where do I get protein if I consume less if any animal products? Also, I do supplement with ‘juice plus’ capsules and vitamin D everyday. Are there other vitamins, minerals or supplements I need to take?

I still take my prenatal newchapter pills. Thank you so much in advance. Keep up the great work!

Stephanie :)

Thanks for following my blog, Stephanie, and for taking the time to ask this great question! And, congrats on eating healthier for you and your family. :) That’s awesome!

Regarding protein, what I’ve read suggests lactating moms should get somewhere between 50-65g of protein per day. Honestly, I don’t usually count my grams but I’m confident that most days I accomplish that amount, and on a few days I might be light, but that’s okay to me – I don’t stress about it. As a general rule, for most adults, protein needs do not need to be high. It’s a common misconception. However, when it comes to pregnancy and breastfeeding, I tend to support getting a little extra protein because in both situations my body is doing extra work and I’m feeding both my baby and myself. It makes sense to me to increase my protein levels.

So, where do I get it?
Well, on days when I have some cooked vegan, organic food, I’m getting higher protein levels from things like oats, lentils, black beans, tofu, tempeh, whole grains, etc. For the raw foods I eat, I get protein from leafy greens, green juice, green smoothies, fruit, nut (or seed) milk, nut (or seed) butter, and nuts (or seeds). But… what really helps ensure I get higher amounts of protein while breastfeeding (or if I were pregnant) would be hemp seedshemp protein powder, and Sun Warrior protein powder (chocolate is my favorite flavor but if you’re avoiding chocolate they offer “natural” and “vanilla.” I can drink a quick shake made with water and 2 scoops of Sun Warrior’s protein powder and have half of my day’s protein needs satisfied. I also sometimes take supplements like chlorella, wheat grass tablets, and green powders. These are concentrated sources of protein, even if a small amount, they pack a punch.

Regarding supplements.. According to The Vitamin D Solution (a book I highly recommend! I plan to write a review on it soon), a breastfeeding mom can take 4000-6000 IUs of vitamin D (but this is still being studied), even more (it’s important to ensure there is enough in breastmilk). You might want to get your levels tested and remember that I’m not a doctor so I’m not suggesting how much someone should take, but want to give you a data point based on the book I read. Personally, I take Deva’s Vitamin D2 and I usually end up with 3000-6000 IUs a day depending on other supplements I’m taking which might include it) – UPDATE – Dr. Holick’s overall recommendation is around 2000 IU a day. If you’re not consuming animal products be sure to get a Vitamin B12 supplement – very important (and make sure it’s a sublingual and the methylcobalamin variety. This is the one I take). Also, get your omegas. I take a daily vegan DHA supplement – there are a few good brands out there (NuTru, Deva, and Udos).

Healthy regards,

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