In general nutrient inadequacies reduce the quantity but not quality of milk. Women can produce milk with adequate carbohydrate, protein, fat and most minerals and folate even when their own supplies are limited. Milk quality is maintained at the expense of maternal stores. Vitamins B6, B12, A and D decline in milk in response to prolonged inadequate intake.
Vitamin A concentration in breast milk reflects vitamin A intake and stores. 400mcg/day is the additional RDA. The RDA for vitamin D and K do not change during lactation. Water soluble vitamins in breast milk also reflect maternal intake, but are not influenced by day to day variations. However severely deficient mothers produce deficient milk. e.g B12 deficiency in mother – B12 deficient milk.
Calcium, phosphorus and magnesium content is not influenced by maternal intake. However low intake by mother mobilizes calcium from bones. Similarly whether a woman takes iron supplements or not or is anemic, she maintains a constant iron content in milk- no matter the cost to her health. Thus nutrients play a significant role in successful lactation, affecting both physical and mental well being of the mother. Rest is also vital to successful lactation. Support of the family will enhance the well being of both mother and infant.