Is it safe to take Emergen-C while breastfeeding? - Evidence Based Babie
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can you take emergen c while breastfeeding

Is it safe to take Emergen-C while breastfeeding?

If you or one of your family members have been feeling unwell or you’re heading into the flu season or the cold season or if you have a little one starting daycare soon, you may be tempted to grab a vitamin c supplement such as the Emergen-C one.

Great start for searching the safety first. Breastfeeding moms should never just take herbs, supplements or medicines without first researching the safety at a reputable source, consulting a lactation consultant or their doctor to check whether or not it may harm their baby.

You may be wondering or worried about whether it’s safe for you to take Emergen-C while breastfeeding and whether it can affect your breast milk composition, your milk production and your milk supply or your baby’s health in any way.

What is Emergen-C?

Emergen-C is a dietary supplement that’s used to boost the immune system, especially during times of illness. This brand has many different products available in a variety of flavors.

Some of their most common products include: Emergen-C Everyday Immune Support, Emergen-C Immune plus, Emergen-C Energy plus, Emergen-C Botanicals, Emergen-C Probiotics Plus, Emergen-C Hydration Plus, Emergen-Zzzz, for sleep and relaxation and Emergen-C Kids.

The Emergen-C products come in many different forms including gummies, shots, and effervescent powder. With a chewable tablet being the most popular choice.

They also come in many different flavors such as orange, coconut-pineapple, raspberry, lemon-lime, acai berry, and so much more.

The main ingredient of Emergen-C is Vitamin C, with 1000 mg in one serving which is much higher than the recommended 120mg of Vitamin C for pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers. It also contains ingredients such as Zinc, Calcium, Magnesium and many of the B Vitamins.

Is Emergen-C safe to take while breastfeeding?

High doses of vitamin c up to 1000 mg, such as some of the Emergen-C products, does increase milk levels, but not enough to cause a health concern for the breastfed infant and is not a reason to discontinue breastfeeding.

Some of the Emergen-C products may contain Ginseng and Caffeine, both considered safe to take while breastfeeding, but with caution.


Reported toxicities of ginseng include estrogen-like effects including diffuse mammary nodularity and vaginal bleeding.

The most commonly reported side effects of Ginseng are nervousness, excitation, morning diarrhea, and inability to concentrate.

Dr Thomas Hale does not recommend the use of ginseng in breastfeeding mothers for more than 6 weeks.

Because of its possible estrogenic activity and lack of information during breastfeeding, many sources recommend that ginseng should not be used while breastfeeding. High estrogen levels can decrease the milk supply, which is why breastfeeding mothers should take caution when using ginseng while breastfeeding.


Caffeine does transfer into breastmilk, but the amounts are very little. Caffeine is considered safe to take while breastfeeding. But it’s important to know that caffeine can affect some babies and it does have a very long half-life in babies, especially younger and premature babies.

Caffeine intake can cause heightened irritabilities and sleeping difficulties in affected infants.

The half-life of caffeine in adults is 4.9 hours, the half-life in neonates is as high as 97.5 hours. The half-life decreases with age to 14 hours at 3-5 months and 2.6 hours at 6 months and older.

Caffeine is considered compatible with breastfeeding and most babies won’t have any issues with the very small amount of caffeine in the breastmilk.

It’s recommended that breastfeeding mothers keep their caffeine intake to a limit of around 300mg per day, depending on whether their infant reacts to caffeine and how sensitive they are to the amount of caffeine being consumed by the mother.

Why is Vitamin C recommended for colds and flus?

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin which the human body can’t synthesize, so we must acquire it from dietary sources because a gene for a synthesis enzyme has mutations that render it dysfunctional.

We can acquire Vitamin C through foods that are rich in Vitamin C or from dietary supplements like Emergen-C.

Vitamin C is an essential vitamin for the human body to function effectively. It is responsible for many functions in the human body and the health of humans.

Does Vitamin C really help with colds and flus?

The results from one meta-analysis of multiple studies indicated that for the general population, a daily dose of Vitamin C supplements had no effect on the number of people who catch the common cold.

A subgroup analysis found that regular Vitamin C supplementation in persons under high physical stress (such as marathon runners) decreased the incidence of the common cold by 50%.

While regularly administered Vitamin C did not seem to affect the incidence of the common cold in the general population, the same review also analyzed 31 comparisons on the effect of regular vitamin C supplementation on symptom duration and severity of colds. The results indicated that regular Vitamin C supplementation resulted in a significant reduction in the duration of common colds, an 8% reduction for adults and 14% reduction for children. The severity of cold symptoms was also reduced.

The benefits of Vitamin C

Vitamin C plays an important role in the function and health of the human body.

The benefits of Vitamin C

  • Protein metabolism
  • Helps with wound healing
  • It helps repair tissue
  • Functions as an antioxidant
  • Improves iron absorption
  • Boosts immune function

Vitamin C deficiency

Scurvy, also known as Vitamin C deficiency, is a condition caused by a severe lack of Vitamin C in the diet.
People who don’t include enough fruits and vegetables in their diet are at risk.

Symptoms of Vitamin C deficiency

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Malaise
  • Bruising
  • Coiled hair
  • Irritability
  • Weight loss
  • Failure to thrive
  • Loss of appetite
  • Rashes or red spots
  • Muscle pain and weakness
  • Swollen gums, bleeding gums or tooth loss

Overdose of Vitamin C

The good news is that Vitamin C is generally very well-tolerated. Although in some cases, very large doses may cause gastrointestinal discomfort, headache, trouble sleeping, and flushing of the skin. These symptoms should disappear once you stop taking Vitamin C supplements.

Sources of vitamin c

There are many different sources of Vitamin C including food and dietary supplements. When possible, food sources will always be the best option.

Food sources include:

  • Grapefruits
  • Peppers
  • Cantaloupe
  • Strawberries
  • Blackcurrants
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Tomatoes
  • Potatoes
  • Citrus fruits, such as oranges and orange juice

Important notes on taking Emergen-C while breastfeeding

Emergen-C is a dietary or nutrient supplement. Dietary supplements are not regulated by the FDA and the ingredients and the safety thereof, especially for breastfeeding moms, is not always known or guaranteed.

The general consensus is that Vitamin C can be very helpful for very active people such as marathon runners, it can also reduce the severity and the longevity of colds. Vitamin C will not prevent or treat a cold or flu on its own.

The average person who follows a healthy and balanced diet that’s rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains, won’t usually need additional nutritional supplements.

When possible, it’s best to get your recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C by following a healthy diet. A balanced diet can offer you all the Vitamin C that you need.

If you feel that you need a nutritional supplement, prenatal or good postnatal vitamins are a great idea to boost your nutritional intake for all of your essential nutrients needs and to boost your immune health. Together with your daily diet, this will offer enough Vitamins A B, C, D, E and many minerals such as Magnesium and Folic Acid which are all important for a breastfeeding mother’s health. Remember to drink plenty of water too, as hydration plays a crucial role in our health.

If you’re ever worried about your diet, or if you’d like a balanced diet to ensure that you consume all the needed nutrients, it may be a good idea to contact a registered dietician who can assist with a specialized diet plan for you while taking the fact that you’re a breastfeeding mom into consideration.

If you have any health concerns about the health of you or your baby, contact your healthcare provider for the best support and treatment.

If you ever need any evidence-based information or support related to anything breastfeeding, consult with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) for the best support possible.

Additional information and resources

Infant risk center – Breastfeeding, Caffeine, and Energy Drinks

Vitamin C in the Prevention and Treatment of the Common Cold

Infant risk center – Cough & Cold Medications while Breastfeeding

Drugs and lactation database (LactMed) – Ginseng while breastfeeding

Drugs and lactation database (LactMed) – Vitamin c while breastfeeding



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