The Minimalist's Guide To Supplementation During Pregnancy
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Don't Fall Into The Supplement Trap
My work in the supplement industry has taught me how easy it is to fall into the supplement trap. I've seen so many people looking for that magic cure all pill that will make them healthy, sexy, skinny, and beautiful. These people are spending money on an obscene amount of pills and powders. A one pill cure doesn't exist okay. Health takes work to achieve. A healthy diet, good exercise regime, and some sort of grounding belief or spirituality are the only ways to achieve greater health. Supplements should only be used as just that, a supplement to your diet.
Get Your Nutrition From Food First
Your diet is the first place your nutrition should come from. I am a firm believer that if you are eating a high quality whole foods diet you will intake the majority of the nutrients your body and your baby needs. As a holistic nutritionist I will always recommend food before supplements. However, there are a few supplements I believe a women should take during her pregnancy as an insurance policy, ensuring her baby receives more than enough nutrients for growth and development. There are also some beneficial supplements that will help prepare the body for birthing and recovery.
1. High Nutrient Cod Liver Oil
First I recommend a high nutrient cod liver oil for babies, children, and pregnant women. Cod liver oil contains vitamin D, vitamin A, and Omega-3 fatty acids in highly absorbable forms. All three of these nutrients are essential for fetal development and child growth. If you are going to take only one supplement this would be my choice.
Vitamin A is a regulator of cell development, directing cells to form into the appropriate tissues for growth and development. According to Sally Fallon, if there is a vitamin A deficiency at any point during pregnancy, organs could develop abnormally or not at all. Vitamin A plays a key roll in all organ development, nervous system development, and ensures our bodies develop symmetrically (evenly on both sides). After the formation of the bodily systems, vitamin A supports their growth. A final roll of vitamin A is to provide protection agains pollutants and toxins which could cause birth defects. (1)
Vitamin D works along side vitamin A to ensure optimal development of your baby. Vitamin A taken without vitamin D correlates with bone degradation, which is why cod liver oil is so perfect. It has optimal amounts of both vitamin A and vitamin D. Vitamin D is also essential for the absorption of calcium, which is why the government has made the milk industry fortify their products with vitamin D.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
These good fats are essential for brain health and growth. They are also essential for maintaining a mother's brain health during pregnancy. During the third trimester a baby will rob the mom of her DHA (a nutrient omega-3's break down into and is essential for cognitive function and health). This is what causes the infamous "mommy brain" in pregnant women. Ensuring you are taking enough Omega-3's during pregnancy will keep your reserves high so your baby and yourself are receiving enough DHA. (2)
Studies have also shown that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation will lead to an easier birth, create a baby with a higher IQ, help with eye development, and decrease risk of pre-term delivery. (2)
Recommended High Nutrient Cod Liver Oil
Green Pastures Fermented Cod Liver Oil is the only company I've found that makes a high nutrient cod liver oil. I recommend 2 tsp a day to reach good levels of all three nutrients (26,000 IU vitamin A and 2,000 IU vitamin D daily). You can get this product in capsule form, but it will be much more expensive due to the high amount I recommend you take.
2. High Quality Prenatal Vitamin
A prenatal vitamin will help fill in the gaps in your diet, ensuring your little bundle of joy is receiving all the nutrients required for optimal growth and development. This supplement will also contain high amounts of folic acid, an essential nutrient for cell division and prevention of spinal bifida, a malformation of the baby's spine.
Studies show that supplementation with a prenatal vitamin will reduce birth defects; increase birth weight; reduce risk of preterm delivery; and improve the baby's immune strength. (2)
Recommended Prenatal Vitamin
I highly recommend MegaFood's Baby & Me. This company derives it's vitamins from whole foods rather than bottling synthetic vitamins. They are a bit more expensive, but the nutrients are better absorbed and used by the body so you aren't "peeing your money away."
3. Probiotic Containing At Least 50 Billion Cells
Head over to: The Shocking Truth About Probiotic Intake During Pregnancy to learn why probiotics are so important during pregnancy.
Recommended Probiotic Supplement
RenewLife's Ultimate Flora Critical Care is an excellent product and has 50 Billion Cells ensuring many of those cells make it through the stomach to the intestines.
4. Raspberry Leaf Tea
This tea has been used throughout history as a uterine tonic and cervical conditioner. Studies have shown that drinking this tea will result in shorter and easier labour and fewer forceps deliveries. (2)
Drink 1-3 cups daily during the 3-4 weeks prior to you due date.
Recommended Raspberry Leaf Tea
Traditional Medicines is a trusted organic brand that produces high quality medicinal teas.
5. Evening Primrose Oil
Evening primrose oil helps to regulate inflammation in the body, serving to soften the cervix and uterus prior to delivery. This omega-6 fatty acid will help with an easier labour and quicker birth. (2)
Take one 500mg capsule 3 times per day during the 3-4 weeks prior to your due date.
Recommended Evening Primrose Oil
Efamol is a brand backed by science, studies, and years of technology perfecting their primrose oil.
It doesn't take a suitcase full of supplements to be healthy. A few really good quality supplements that contain many different nutrients is all you need. Personally, during my pregnancy I will not be taking anything more than what I listed above. When it comes to supplementation, please be cautious. Some supplements and herbs are harmful during pregnancy, in many cases causing miscarriage. Always consult a health care practitioner before adding any supplements to your diet to ensure they indeed are right for you.
What are your views on supplementation? Were there any specific supplements you took during pregnancy? Join the conversation below!
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Love and Happiness,
Krystal Bernier, Holistic Nutritionist
(1) The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby & Childcare
(2) Healthy Baby Healthy Child