Prenatal vs. Postnatal Minerals - What's The Difference?

Minerals may seem like an afterthought, but so many of them are essential to feeling our best - especially when we’re depleted from pregnancy and breastfeeding for 10+ months. When we say something in nutrition is “essential”, that means that our body either doesn’t make enough of that nutrient, or any at all, so we must get it from our diet or supplements. Many of the supplements out there are in inexpensive forms, poorly absorbed by our bodies, meaning many of us are flushing much of our supplement efforts right down the drain! 

Read on for the rundown on the different levels of MINERALS and forms needed in the postpartum period compared to pregnancy. These nutrients help mamas recover and thrive through their postpartum and breastfeeding journey.

Choline - choline is needed in higher amounts postpartum (550mg/day vs 450mg/day in pregnancy). Choline improves memory and focus by working as a neurotransmitter and protecting the integrity of our cell membranes and their signaling. It also plays a part in gene expression, and lipid transport and metabolism. Choline passes from mama to baby in breastmilk to aid in early development of baby’s brain and central nervous system, so adequate intake is vital. Estimates are that more than 90% of mamas consume less than the recommended amount of Choline and many supplements do not include it at all. New Mama provides 250 mg (45% RDA) of choline bitartrate. 

Selenium - this essential trace mineral is needed in higher amounts postpartum than during pregnancy (70 mg/day vs. 60 mg in pregnancy). Selenium acts as an anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant to support immune function and thyroid health. It also plays a role in boosting moods, reproductive health, and DNA synthesis. It transfers directly to baby through breast milk. New Mama provides 70 mcg (100% of the RDA) of Selenomethionine - the organic form easily absorbed & used by our bodies. 

Folate - Less folate is needed in postpartum than in pregnancy because mothers are no longer growing a baby in their bodies and protecting against neural tube defects. However, mothers may be depleted after pregnancy when baby was receiving nutrient priority, so supplementation is still recommended after birth. Many individuals don’t get sufficient folate because of their genetic makeup or intestinal or liver dysfunction. Folate supplementation helps prevent anemia, supports methylation, normal cell production, provides nerve support, aids in brain development in baby, and DNA synthesis and repair in mama and baby. Folate also plays a major role in healthy moods as it contributes to the production of serotonin, melatonin, dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. So long baby blues! Folate transfers to baby through breastmilk, so consuming adequate amounts is essential. New Mama provides 500mcg DFE of 5-MTHF (5-methyltetrahydrofolate - 100% RDA). 5-MTHF is the most active, tissue ready form of folate for your body. Folic acid, an inexpensive commonly used form of folate, requires many steps of conversion before reaching the active form of folate. 

Zinc - this essential mineral is needed postpartum to support the immune system, improve energy levels, wound healing (hello c-section mamas!), and help alleviate postpartum depression symptoms when deficiency is present. It also plays a role in protein synthesis, DNA synthesis, cell division, and supports normal growth and development for baby! Zinc deficiency can cause loss of appetite, hair loss, impaired immune function, and brain fog. New Mama provides 15 mg (115% RDA) of zinc bisglycinate chelate - the form of zinc with the highest absorption rate.

Calcium - While more calcium is not recommended during postpartum than during pregnancy, it does play an important role. Calcium supplementation postpartum works to replenish a mother’s calcium stores in her body and support her bone health while aiding baby’s growth while nursing. New Mama provides 300 mg of di-Calcium Malate (23% of the RDA)

Magnesium -  Many new mothers are deficient in magnesium due to baby and the placenta absorbing huge amounts from the mother during pregnancy, and even more being demanded during lactation. Continuing to supplement after pregnancy can help improve sleep, relaxation, digestion, mental focus, and energy. It may also help alleviate headaches, migraines, and postpartum depressive symptoms. Magnesium plays an important role in energy production, muscle & nerve function, blood sugar control, and blood pressure regulation. New Mama provides 150mg (38% RDA) of diMagnesium Malate.

Iodine - More iodine is needed postpartum than in pregnancy - at 290 mg/day, the RDA is almost double that of non-pregnant or lactating women. Up to ⅓ of pregnant women are deficient in iodine as they enter postpartum. Iodine is an essential component of thyroid hormones. Iodine is passed to baby through breast milk and is essential for their proper skeletal and central nervous system growth development. New Mama provides 220 mcg (76% RDA) of Potassium Iodide.

This is a lot of information - even as Registered Dietitians who work with this information on a daily basis, it takes us a lot of time to research, familiarize ourselves, and translate this information for you. If you have questions, please reach out and ask through our “contact us” link. We’re here to help you! 

For more information on the different levels of vitamins and botanicals needed in postpartum, check out these articles:

Prenatal vs. Postnatal Vitamins - What's the difference?

Herbs & Botanicals for Postpartum

By: Jeanne Reilly, Registered Dietitian, Mom, Co-Founder I Am Nurtured