Health professionals agree that Taking a daily prenatal vitamin is essential to support a healthy pregnancy. However, I’d like to discuss a few things. For one, not all vitamins are created equal so let’s learn to read labels. Second, vitamins are to supplement a balanced diet. Lastly, the vitamins and minerals in your prenatal vitamin, isn’t ALL you need.
Learn which nutrients are key to a healthier pregnancy and a healthy baby. There are tons of natural options, many supplement companies, and an overload of information. Let’s break it down to make it easy.
We all want to eat well. Once you are pregnant, you are not only feeding yourself. You are now intaking nutrients for two. Notice, I didn’t say that You’re eating for two. You aren’t, really. Your caloric intake may increase slightly during pregnancy but not a noticeable amount, especially if you are making healthy choices. What’s most important during pregnancy is that you are getting enough nutrients for yourself and your baby.
In addition to eating a range of nutrient-dense foods that provide protein, calcium, folate, and iron, you will want to supplement with a good quality prenatal vitamin–ideally before conception and throughout breastfeeding, or the first six weeks if you are formula feeding–to ensure that you and your baby are getting enough of the important stuff. Here are five vital nutrients and my favorite prenatal vitamins.
Shopping for Prenatal Vitamins can be overwhelming. I have done the research for you! Below is quick guide to all you need. Of course, always ask your doctor or midwife before taking advice from the internet.
Folate: The most well-established tenet of prenatal nutrition is the need for the B vitamin folate or, more commonly, the synthetic form known as folic acid, which prevents the lifelong neural tube disorder known as spina bifida. Let’s talk….
Some estimate that as many as 40 percent of people have a MTHFR mutation — and most don’t know it. The frequency of the MTHFR gene mutation along with the importance of active folate for a healthy baby means that I recommend against folic acid for my clients and instead highly recommend a prenatal vitamin with Folate or Methylfolate in it. When I pick up a prenatal vitamin to read the package, I have two questions: 1. Are the vitamins AND the minerals in this product from food sources, meaning are they “activated” or natural? 2. I look at the source of folate. As I read the label, I don’t want to see folic acid mentioned.
Iron: Iron is the Uber of minerals–it transports oxygen from the lungs to tissues and shuttles back carbon dioxide from tissues and lungs. You need iron more than ever during female reproductive growth spurts, such as pregnancy and breastfeeding. Many times added iron will alleviate nausea during the first trimester as your body is working hard to build an entire organ, your placenta.
DHA: This omega-3 fatty acid known for its positive influence on brain development, not least because DHA is a major structural component of the brain and cerebral cortex. Studies have found that DHA taken during the second half of pregnancy results in moe optimal gestational length, hence healthier birth weight, baby length, and head circumference. Therefore, fewer premature births and shorter hospital stays for preemies.
My favorite DHA supplements: Nordic Naturals Prenatal DHA; Green Pasture Blue Ice Royal Butter Oil / Fermented Cod Liver Oil Blend — there are many flavors to choose from. I prefer chocolate, of course.
Probiotics: Friendly bacteria, as you know are good for digestive health and immune function–and they can benefit pregnancy too. Probiotics help prevent infant eczema, constipation, and sick days for both mother and infant while breastfeeding. When it comes to shopping for a probiotic, shop wisely! Not all probiotics are created equally.
The probiotics with the best strains for pregnancy and breastfeeding: Klaire Labs Ther-Biotic Womens; Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Once Daily Women’s Probiotics, Thorne Research Probiotics
Vitamin D: What isn’t sunshine good for? Studies show that women who take vitamin D3, have lower incidences of pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, and vaginal infections.
Magnesium – Calcium: Magnesium and calcium work in combination: Magnesium relaxes muscles, while calcium stimulates muscles to contract. Research suggests that getting adequate magnesium during pregnancy can help prevent leg cramps and the uterus from contracting prematurely. Magnesium also helps build strong teeth and bones in your baby.
One of my top listened-to podcasts at Pregnant Pause Radio is our very first one, Prenatal Supplements. Take a listen…
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