The dietary supplement 5-Hour Energy claims to boost your energy for several hours without sugar and with little caffeine. While this may sound tempting to women who are nursing, the supplement's effect on young babies is not known. 5-Hour Energy is not recommended for nursing mothers, despite the fact that it is packed with B vitamins.
What's in 5-Hour Energy?
5-Hour Energy is marketed as an energy drink, but it is actually a dietary supplement. It contains folate and niacin, both of which are B vitamins, as well as B6 and B12. These B vitamins give it its kick; one bottle contains 20 times your daily requirement of B6, and 83 times your daily requirement of B12. In addition, it also contains an "energy blend" including caffeine as one of its ingredients. The exact amount the original formula contains is not clear, but the 5-Hour Energy website reports it is similar to that of a cup of coffee.
Safe for Breastfeeding?
5-Hour Energy is not advised for breastfeeding women, and says so in bright orange letters right on its website. While mom can probably handle what the supplement has to offer, it is difficult to determine how much of these extra vitamins are passed into the breast milk and exactly what effect they would have on an infant. Per Kelly Bonyata, a lactation consultant and founder of the popular breastfeeding website Kellymom.com, B vitamins are water soluble and likely top out in breast milk at a certain amount. In other words, any extra is simply passed out of the mother's system through her urine as opposed to her breast milk. However, it is undetermined what this amount actually is.
What Can Happen?
A supplement's upper limit is the maximum amount you should have in a given day. Per Bonyata, the upper limit of vitamin B6 for nursing women is 25 mg. 5-Hour Energy contains 40 mg. The main concern for breastfeeding women taking large amounts of B6 is a decrease in milk supply. While not dangerous, low milk supply can cause problems with breastfeeding and may require a nursing mom to supplement with formula. When given directly to infants, too much B12 can have a sedating effect. Bonyata reports, however, that this refers to direct supplementation only, and the effect is likely not as strong when passed through the breast milk. In truth, there is little scientific research regarding the effects of exceeding the maximum daily dose of B vitamins. Because the results are unknown, doing so is not recommended.
While it may seem appealing to a sleep-deprived mother, 5-Hour Energy is not the way to go for nursing moms. If you are interested in boosting your B vitamin intake using supplements, talk to your doctor. Otherwise, stick to the tried and true methods for combating fatigue: Get plenty of sleep at night, nap when your baby sleeps during the day, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food. It may also help to know that sleep deprivation for breastfeeding moms is only temporary.