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Is It Safe to Take Emergen C While Breastfeeding?

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When a mother goes from being pregnant to breastfeeding, her immune system does not go back up the way that it does when a woman is not breastfeeding.

This is why most doctors continue to prescribe prenatal vitamins to breastfeeding women. Some feel the need to take additional supplements, especially during cold and flu season.

Something else might be requested or taken if you’re feeling sick, like Emergen C. That doesn’t mean that it’s safe, though. There are risks associated with taking this, so it’s best to make sure that you get those extra vitamins and nutrients from food. 

What Is Emergen C?

Emergen C is a supplement that is packed with vitamins and nutrients. Its claim to fame is that it has more than enough Vitamin C and other things to help prevent colds and the flu.

It can also give your immune system the boost that it needs to help make you feel better faster. There are quite a few different varieties of Emergen C available.

You can pick up the gummies, a particular variety gives you an energy boost, and there are also little flavor packets that you can pour in water and drink.

They all provide the same thing: an extra dose of various vitamins that are supposed to boost your immune system. 

Emergen C Ingredients

Emergen C has a pretty simple ingredient list. One packet provides you with: 

  • Over 1000% times the daily amount of Vitamin C
  • A healthy dose of Calcium
  • Niacin
  • Vitamin B6 (500% the daily recommended amount)
  • Folic Acid
  • Vitamin B12 (over 400% the recommended amount)
  • Manganese
  • Thaimin
  • Zinc
  • Riboflavin
  • Magnesium
  • Calcium
  • Potassium

There are a few other things on the ingredient list, but these are either included in an amount so low that it says 0% or are extremely low, such as the sodium at 2%. 

The Risks Of Taking Emergen C While Breastfeeding

Most of the ingredients on the list of ingredients seem perfectly fine. The level of Vitamin C is actually a little over 1600%, but it’s recommended that breastfeeding women not take more than 2000%.

Your body simply eliminates the extra Vitamin C that it has and does not need. 

Why Is My 2 Week Old Baby Always Hungry?

Too Much Vitamin C 

While your body will eliminate the Vitamin C that you do not need, it might not do so in time to prevent certain side effects of taking too much Vitamin C. First, this is known to increase milk production.

If you’re already producing too much milk, this is going to be a serious problem. Excess Vitamin C can also give you an upset stomach, diarrhea and increase your risk of kidney stones. If kidney stones are a problem, this isn’t a good idea. 

Vitamin B6 In Unhealthy Levels

When you consume too much Vitamin B6, which is included in just one packet of Emergen C, it can cause some side effects.

When you take Emergen C, you might experience heartburn, upset stomach, nerve damage, sensitivity to light, and/or irritated skin. One serving of this instantly provides you with more than six times the daily recommended amount. 

Passing Too Many Of These On To Your Baby

When you consume vitamins, they do show up in breastmilk. If you are at risk and ignore the risk, it puts your baby at risk. This is why many breastfeeding mothers opt-out of taking Emergen C when they are breastfeeding. 

Is Taking Emergen C While Breastfeeding Ever Safe?

There are cases where a doctor will recommend taking this as a supplement. It seems to contradict the evidence above though, which can make you raise your eyebrows a bit.

The thing is, if a mother is malnourished, the benefits can outweigh the risks, but only on a short term basis.

Typically, a doctor will state that this is acceptable on a short term basis because a mother has acquired the flu and is unable to eat. However, it is not considered safe on a long term basis. 

Providing Your Body With Additional Vitamins And Nutrients Through Food Is Ideal

While supplements are fine to get you through a rough patch, it’s not ideal to take them every day. Your body should get vitamins and nutrients through you eating a healthy, well-balanced diet.

If you can stomach food and want to give your immune system a boost, there are plenty of ways to do that. 

Foods With Vitamin C

There are plenty of great foods that are packed with vitamin C in them. Most fruits have at least a little bit of this vitamin in them. These fruits are known for having large amounts to give your immune system the boost that it needs: 

  • Cantalope
  • Oranges
  • Grapefruit
  • Pineapple
  • Strawberries
  • Mango

Foods With Riboflavin

This vitamin isn’t in excess in Emergen C, but if you’re not taking any it is important to give your immune system the vitamins that it needs. You can find Riboflavin in most dairy foods and a couple others. For example: 

  • eggs
  • milk
  • vegetables that are green
  • Liver

Making Sure You Get B6 In Your Diet

B6 is found in large quantities in Emergen C because it is so great for your immune system. However, too much of this vitamin can be dangerous.

Make sure that you get a healthy amount by including it in your diet. These foods can help you get your daily dose of Vitamin B6: 

  • Poultry, like chicken
  • Whole grain (like cereals and bread)
  • Eggs

These three foods can be included daily to make sure that you get your daily dose of B6. 

Other Options

If you’re not comfortable taking Emergen C while you are breastfeeding, that’s understandable. Personally, I wouldn’t feel comfortable taking OTC remedies. However, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have options available.

Closeup view nurse holding pills explain to patient dosage

Multi-Vitamins Are Acceptable

Your doctor can call in a prescription for a multi-vitamin to make sure that you are getting plenty of vitamins and minerals.

Some doctors will do this for all postpartum women. Others will if you request it. If you’re not able to eat and might be malnourished, ask your doctor for a multi-vitamin. 

Taking Coconut Oil While Breastfeeding Is A Great Idea

Coconut oil has anti-viral properties that help your body combat colds and the flu. It can also boost your immune system just like OTC products. This natural remedy can also benefit breastfeeding mothers by: 

  • Helping heal dry, cracked nipples
  • Serving as a lotion even if your nipples aren’t cracked
  • Has antimicrobial properties that are transferred through breast milk 
  • Boosting heart health
  • Helping protect your baby from bacteria
  • Giving a boost of energy
  • Aids indigestion

If you purchase coconut oil, you want it as natural as possible. Raw, virgin, unrefined coconut oil is ideal. The more processed coconut oil is, the less natural it is. When coconut oil is processed, it tends to lose some of its health benefits. 

Combat Congestion With Steam

Steam works wonderfully for helping you with congestion. If you’re stuffed up, boil a pot of water. Remove it from the stove so it is no longer boiling. Then, drape a towel over your head and lean over the pot.

This creates a tent so that the steam all goes to you instead of out in the room. You can also turn the shower all the way on hot and close the bathroom door. When the bathroom is nice and steamy, sit inside for ten minutes. 

Cough Drops Without Menthol

Taking too many cough drops with menthol can give you a decreased milk supply. If you’re producing too much milk, that might not be a problem.

However, if you’re producing the perfect amount you don’t want to take anything that can cause a decrease in your supply. Taking cough drops without menthol is wonderful, and can provide some soothing relief if you have a cough, cold or sore throat. 

Essential Oils

Essential oils can help you find relief for everything. Add a few drops of lavender to your bath for relaxing pain relief. Inhale peppermint for congestion.

Don’t forget that you should not ingest essential oils or use them on your skin as this can cause irritation.
If you plan on using essential oils in a diffuser, do not use them in the same room as your baby. Essential oils are not recommended for use in babies. 

In Conclusion

Emergen C is not recommended for use while breastfeeding without a doctor’s permission. Even then, it should only be used on a short term basis.

Other methods are highly recommended. Getting your daily intake of vitamins and nutrients from food is the ideal solution. 

Medical Disclaimer. All content and media on the MomInformed Website is created and published online for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health or personal advice.

My name is Amber Dixon. I am a mother to three wonderful children, and recently welcomed a beautiful grandson into the world as well as into my home. I've learned a great deal about raising children through my own experiences as a mother, but also from several other places. While working at a daycare full time, I learned about childhood development, teaching children, and more. Through earning degrees in Social Work, I was educated about human development, including a great deal about children and childhood development. My education and experience combined have taught me a lot about children of every stage and age, and I hope that I can help you on your journey to becoming the best parent that you can be!