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 The star nutrients in your breast milk and their roles in the body

The star nutrients in your breast milk and their roles in the body

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Nutrients that build immunity

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

Essential Fatty Acids

1. Cannot be formed by the body and therefore must be taken from the diet.

2. DHA is an EFA important for the development of body’s defence system, brain and vision. DHA also protects the baby from allergies like asthma.

3. During infancy, DHA needs of the baby are met through breast milk.

4. ARA is an EFA which is required for optimal development of immune function.

5. It is present in all cell membranes and in large amounts in nervous tissue.

Vitamin A

  • Is essential for the functioning of the immune system and its deficiency increases the risk of infections.
  • Vitamin A helps in formation of antibodies, thus increasing immunity at the cell level.
  • If the mother is supplemented with vitamin A after delivery, the baby can benefit from it for a longer time than if she is not supplemented. It is essential you continue to have a vitamin A rich diet even after the baby is born.


  • Plays a central role in the immune system and provides immunity against infectious diseases during the first years of life.
  • Your growing baby is more vulnerable to zinc deficiency as its stores are already low at birth.
  • Zinc deficiency weakens many aspects of body’s defensive capabilities, starting with the initial barriers to infection to the more complex ones.
  • It is proven that when zinc is added to babies’ diet it reduces the duration and severity of Diarrhoea and other infections.
  • During breastfeeding, you baby will take her quota of zinc from your body. Therefore, it is important that your diet should have more zinc during this period.


  • Helps build immunity at basic cell levels and is thus essential for the proper functioning of the body’s immune system.
  • Deficiency of iron can lead to decreased resistance from infections.
  • Iron from your breast milk is well absorbed by your baby.

Vitamin B6

  • Helps the body make hemoglobin (for blood) and antibodies (to fight infections). Thus it is essential for the effective functioning of the immune system and red blood cells.
  • Is also essential for the effective functioning of nervous system.

Vitamin C

  • Is important for immunity and for proper iron absorption in the body.
  • Vitamin C is essential for the formation of immune system and building a cell’s strength to fight infection.
  • It helps boost body’s immune system to resist infections and in the healing of wounds.
  • Breast milk has enough amount of Vitamin C needed by your baby.


Though needed in small amounts, Selenium helps in the protection of body tissues and maintenance of defences against infections.


  • Needed in very small amounts, it is essential for proper development and functioning of the immune system.
  • It is also essential for absorption of iron in the body.


  • Help in enhancing the immunity of the infant.
  • These are found in breast milk in forms readily absorbable by your baby.

Nutrients that build the Bifidogenic effect (the growth of good bacteria in the baby’s tummy)

Human milk contains two types of proteins: whey and casein.  Breast milk has more amounts of whey protein which increases the growth of good bacteria in the infant’s stomach.

Listed below are specific proteins that are found in breast milk and their benefits:

  • Lysozymes are proteins with direct antibacterial activity. They are important anti-infective agents and also promote the growth of healthy environment in the tummy.
  • Immunoglobulins form a protective layer inside the intestines and keep harmful bacteria and viruses away from attacking the baby. They also protect against organisms responsible for causing polio, Diarrhoea and some other common illnesses.


  • Lactose is the primary carbohydrate found in human milk.
  • It promotes the growth of healthy bacteria in the stomach.

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