10 Best Postnatal Vitamins for Breastfeeding, Depression + Hair Loss 

The best postnatal vitamins to support better mood, hair growth, and breastfeeding.

As soon as you give birth, your hormones go into freefall. Progesterone, steroid hormones, and endorphins plummet. On top of that, you'll see major changes to your thyroid hormones and estrogen levels.

These hormonal shifts can leave you feeling tired, anxious, irritable, and generally not yourself.

No one is saying that pregnancy and bringing your baby into the world aren’t special, rewarding experiences. We’re not denying any of that, but that’s not what this conversation is about. Here we’re getting into the very real physical and emotional feelings many of us go through after birth.


Ahead, we’ll look at some of the best postnatal vitamins for depression, breastfeeding, and your overall health.


10 best postpartum vitamins, according to science 


Postnatal vitamins can help to fix any hormonal imbalances or problems after giving birth. You might recognise some of these postnatal supplements from your prenatal vitamins, for example iron and vitamin D are recommended during pregnancy..


With a postnatal vitamin, you can make sure you get essential nutrients after giving birth. 


Postnatal vitamins for depression 

Around one in seven women may experience postpartum depression. Some estimates suggest up to 20% of women can develop postpartum depression a year after giving birth.  

Preventing postpartum depression is key since it can lead to long-term mental health problems, according to a 2020 research review. While there’s no universal fix for preventing postpartum depression, researchers suggest that in addition to psychotherapy “dietary and/or hormonal interventions” can help.


About five months after I gave birth to my daughter, my mental health took a turn for the worst. I felt sad, weepy, and anxious all the time.  I honestly didn't know what was happening to me. My understanding about postpartum depression was that you felt it right after pregnancy. 

By chance, a client told me about the mood swings and anxiety she experienced a couple of months after she gave birth. Suddenly, I connected the dots.  

While these postnatal vitamins can absolutely boost your recovery and health post-pregnancy, they're no stand-in for getting professional help. Reach out to a doctor or counsellor if you're feeling especially sad or overwhelmed. I hope this article is a helpful resource but it can’t replace specific advice for your circumstances - nothing on the internet can.


1. Vitamin D


A vitamin D deficiency is linked to a higher risk of postpartum depression.


Generally, vitamin D is crucial for maintaining overall health and plays a vital role in combating postpartum depression. It helps regulate mood, supports the immune system, and enhances bone health.

A study conducted by researchers in Brazil showed a connection between vitamin D and postpartum depression. More specifically, researchers found a vitamin D deficiency makes you more vulnerable to postpartum depression. Study  authors recommend vitamin D supplementation as one solution.


And breastfeeding mothers in particular often experience low levels of vitamin D, according to research. So while we’re talking about vitamin D as a postnatal vitamin for depression, it’s also an essential postnatal vitamin if you’re nursing.

One thing to note: while the evidence is pretty convincing, other research found there wasn’t enough evidence to support vitamin D’s role in treating postpartum depression.


2. Omega-3 fatty acids


One crucial vitamin for well-being is omega-3 fatty acids. And research suggests it's one of the key postnatal vitamins for combating depression.


A 2020 review article examined the findings of randomised controlled trials involving 4,052 participants. Researchers found omega-3 fatty acids “have an overall significant small beneficial effect on perinatal depression”.

One meta-analysis looked at the difference between taking omega-3 fatty acids and placebo.  The research showed omega-3 “significantly improved depressive symptoms” among both pregnant and perinatal women.

Choose a high-quality supplement with appropriate dosages and purity.

3. Zinc 

Zinc supplementation may boost the overall mental health of new mothers, notes a 2022 study published in the Nutrients journal.


“Postpartum zinc supplementation causes a significant positive effect on postpartum depression.” 

What’s more, a study conducted by researchers in India confirms a link between a zinc deficiency and postpartum depression.‍


4. Magnesium

Magnesium is a popular hormone balancing supplement that supports the nervous system and helps regulate mood. Getting enough magnesium helps with better sleep quality, reduced anxiety, and improved mood. 


A study of 342 women found magnesium supplementation was linked with fewer depressive symptoms after giving birth. However, study authors called for more randomised trials.

Look for forms of magnesium that are more easily absorbed by the body.


5. Probiotics 


There’s an established relationship between gut health and emotional well-being.


And during the postpartum period, a healthy gut helps support better mental health.


One systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised trials found probiotics may help improve a mother’s mental health. But they stressed that choosing the right strain was important. 


Postpartum vitamins for breastfeeding

A team of researchers from Spain and the US found breastfeeding mothers had several vitamin deficiencies.


6. Fenugreek


Fenugreek is a great postnatal supplement for breastfeeding women because it may increase milk supply.


A review published in the International Journal of Pediatrics found:

“According to the results of reviewing previous studies, the use of fenugreek to improve breastfeeding adequacy and promote neonatal growth is recommended, considering its ease of access and use and rare adverse effects on the mother and infant.”


7. Calcium


Calcium is essential for maintaining strong bones and muscle function. During breastfeeding, you'll have higher calcium needs to support you and your growing baby.


But according to health experts, you may not need to add a calcium supplement to your diet while you’re breastfeeding.


Per the Royal Hospital for Women:


“...the mother during this period adapts to make more efficient use of her own calcium.4 Sources of calcium include dairy foods or calcium-fortified soy milk. (250mL of milk contains 285 mg of calcium, 200g tub of yoghurt contains 340mg of calcium).” 


Additionally, one meta-analysis found there wasn’t enough evidence to support calcium supplementation for nursing mothers. 


8. Choline


Choline is a must for breastfeeding mothers.


As Registered Dietitian Melissa Mitri notes in this Scientific American article:


"Choline is a nutrient similar to folic acid that is crucial for brain development. The needs for this nutrient increase during pregnancy and are the highest in breastfeeding moms. Choline is very important for infant memory and brain development."

A meta-analysis published in the Advances in Nutrition journal found a link between choline and better child brain development. 

Eating a balanced diet of choline-rich foods is one way to ensure that you are getting enough of this essential nutrient. Choline-rich foods include eggs, organ meats, and chicken breast but you may not be getting enough in your diet. Some research recommends lactating women take up 550 mg per day. You can take supplements to meet this recommendation. 


 Postpartum vitamins for hair loss 


Back in 1960, researchers started noticing that more and more women were experiencing hair loss. This marked a growing interest in female hair loss, and recent studies confirm a connection between vitamin deficiencies and hair loss. 


According to the American Academy of Dermatology, most new mothers will regain their hair fullness when their child turns one. But some of us are after a more immediate fix. In addition to finding suitable hair products, the right vitamins and minerals can promote hair growth. 

9. Iron


Iron deficiency is common during pregnancy and postpartum women, which can contribute to hair loss. Supplementing with iron can help boost iron stores and alleviate symptoms of postpartum depression.


Rina Weimann (Allawh), board-certified dermatologist, tells Byrdie:


"Postpartum hair loss is a frequent dermatologic concern and, as one may expect, may impact self-confidence and mental state," Weimann explains. "Hormonal changes during pregnancy promote an increase in hair growth.

"However, during postpartum the estrogen levels begin to fall, resulting in what is termed postpartum telogen effluvium, which can be devastating for many and sometimes prolonged."

Weimann adds:


"Your dermatologist, in conjunction with your primary care physician, may start you on an oral iron supplement.”


Check in with your healthcare provider before starting an iron supplement to ensure appropriate dosage and avoid potential complications.


10. Vitamin B12 


B vitamins are known to support energy production, mood regulation, and nervous system function. Vitamin B12 has been studied for hair loss in pregnancy.


According to research:

“Vitamin B12 levels may vary in different populations. Most of the Indian studies including ours found Vitamin B12 to be deficient in cases of chronic telogen effluvium, whereas in studies from other countries found no significant difference in Vitamin B12. Inquiry on the role of nutrition and diet in hair loss is growing day by day, so a deficiency of such micronutrients if detected may represent modifiable risk factors for telogen effluvium management.”

Supplement your diet with the best postnatal vitamins 


Let's be real: the postnatal period is intense.  Yes, you're in awe of a new little person and their amazing baby head smell.'re also going through a ton of hormonal changes that can wreak havoc on your well-being.  On top of that, you're also sleep deprived due to your newborn's needs. 

Eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables can help ensure your body is getting the nutrients it needs. 

Remember to recognise your feelings and to seek help if needed. Friends and family can be a great source of support during this challenging time. I know I felt much better just speaking about my feelings with friends and family.


Featured image credit: Photo by Sarah  Chai