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The importance of a nutrient enriched vegan diet for breastfeeding mothers and infants

Updated: Jun 15, 2023

Can a vegan diet affect a mother's breastmilk. Keep reading the artice to know more

A recent study conducted in Amsterdam Medical University stated in its findings that a vegan diet does not alter the levels of carnitine and vitamin B2.

What is Carnitine and Vitamin B2

Carnitine and Vitamin B2 are two essential nutrients required for the growth of babies.

In the study, researchers reported that lactating mothers who were vegan showed no difference compared with omnivorous mothers in concentrations of the two important nutrients.

“The results of our study suggest that vitamin B2 and carnitine concentrations in human milk are not influenced by consumption of a vegan diet. These results suggest that a vegan diet in lactating mothers is not a risk for the development of a vitamin B2 or carnitine deficiency in breastfed infants,” Dr. Hannah Juncker, the lead author of the study and a researcher at Amsterdam University Medical Centers in the Netherlands, said in a press statement.

“This information is useful for breastfeeding mothers and also for donor human milk banks, which collect milk for provision to premature infants who do not receive sufficient mother’s own milk,” she added.

The researchers argue their study challenges the idea that a vegan diet is not nutritionally complete and that infants who are breastfed by a vegan mother may have deficiencies in vitamin B2 or carnitine. These nutrients are important for infant development.

B2 (Riboflavin) is important in nutrient metabolism (breaking down nutrients and using them in our own body tissues). It’s important in digestion, maintaining cell membranes, and maintaining the integrity of mucous membranes of the digestive tract. It’s available in grains, plants, and dairy, or in nutrient supplements (vitamins),” Dana Ellis Hunnes, PhD, MPH, RD, a senior clinical dietitian at the UCLA Medical Center and an assistant professor UCLA Fielding School of Public Health in Los Angeles, told Medical News Today.

“Carnitine is present in almost every cell and helps transport certain nutrients to mitochondria (the powerhouses of our cells),” noted Hunnes, who was not involved in the study. “Carnitine is important in energy production, which we use for physical activity and also to simply just ‘be.’ It’s important for growing babies as their cells are constantly turning over and rebuilding. Carnitine is mostly in meat and dairy, but certain whole grains and asparagus have carnitine in them as well.”

Lauri Wright, PhD, RDN, LD, FAND, the president-elect of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics quotes

“A vegan diet is safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women as well as their infants. The woman needs to be very strategic with her diet choices,” she told Medical News Today.

Bottom line is to eat a variety of nutrient-rich foods to obtain the extra calories and protein needed during pregnancy and lactation. Keep some key nutrients in mind: protein; consume soy, nuts and beans, quinoa. Iron; fortified breakfast cereals and grains, lentils, tofu, beans, spinach and raisins. Calcium; tofu, fortified breakfast cereal and spinach,” Wright added.

This study got me thinking of some foods rich in B2 and carnitine

So I found this :

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