Family Wellness: Essential Nutrition for Nursing Moms

August is National Breastfeeding Month.

Studies have shown that breastfeeding women can lose 3-5% of their bone mass while breastfeeding.

During Wellness for the Family, Registered Dietitian with Michigan’s Blue Cross Blue Shield, Shanthi Appelo breaks down the specific foods and vitamins that are essential for new moms and the health benefits they have on newborns.

Delicious smoothie to meet the needs of breastfeeding mothers

A smoothie can be a convenient breakfast or on-the-go snack that contains a variety of nutrients. This smoothie is designed to meet the needs of breastfeeding mothers, incorporating the following ingredients:

Milk or milk substitute. Studies have shown that breastfeeding women can lose 3-5% of their bone mass while nursing, as the body draws on its own calcium stores to give the baby the amount of calcium it needs. Breastfeeding women should aim to consume the recommended 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day. Many milks and milk alternatives contain or are fortified with added vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium.

kale. Getting enough folate helps ensure the continued development of a nursing mother’s child. Although most leafy greens provide a generous serving of folate, kale is the star of the show providing 19% of the daily recommended intake. It also contains a healthy serving of iron, needed to help mom and baby retain energy.

strawberries. A cup of strawberries exceeds the daily requirement for vitamin C, which helps the body absorb iron. Although most berries contain vitamin C, strawberries provide more of this water-soluble vitamin than blueberries or raspberries.

Linseed. Flaxseeds offer the plant-based omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a precursor to docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which may support brain and eye development in infants .

protein powder. Nursing mothers need more protein while breastfeeding to build, repair and maintain body tissues and muscles. Nursing mothers should aim for 1.05 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.

Nutritious breastfeeding smoothie


  • 1 cup milk (dairy product or dairy substitute fortified with calcium and vitamin D)
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 tbsp. linseed
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla protein powder
  • handful of kale


  1. Mix all the ingredients in a blender. Enjoy!

For a direct link to Shanthi Appelo’s “A Healthier Michigan” website with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, click here.

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