Safe and effective supplement choices in pregnancy are so important so that mom and the growing baby get all the nutrients they need. In Part 1 of this post I discussed how to choose good quality supplements. In Part 2 I will now discuss my first few supplement recommendations for a healthy and vibrant pregnancy.
Prenatal Vitamins provide a well-rounded source of vitamins and minerals. I recommend choosing a prenatal with the active form of vitamins. A great example of this is folic acid. Folate, or 5-methyl folate (5MTHF) is the active form of folic acid. It is important to have this form because a significant portion of the population have a genetic mutation of the MTHFR gene that prevents them from metabolizing folic acid and other vitamins, which could lead to deficiencies and conditions like cleft lip or palate, spina bifida or a host of many other chronic conditions. I’ll talk more about this MTHFR mutation in a future blog post. It is also important to choose a prenatal that is free of dyes, binders and fillers (ie ensuring that short non-medicinal ingredients I talked about in Part 1). I also recommend avoiding 1-A-Day type vitamins as the body can only absorb so much at a time and there is a bigger chance that the digestive tract may struggle to break down the tablet.
I recommend a Professional Grade product like Thorne Basic Prenatal.
Fish oils are a rich source of EPA and DHA. These are essential fatty acids that serve MANY functions such as
a) reducing inflammation: think tissue healing post-labour and delivery
b) promoting healthy neurological development in the baby: the brain and nervous system are largely made of fat
c) supporting mom’s brain: did you know that a pregnant woman’s brain can shrink by 1% during pregnancy (don’t worry, it returns to normal after birth). “Pregnancy brain”, followed by “baby brain” is real!
During pregnancy I recommend having a higher proportion of DHA to EPA because DHA is preferentially used to support nervous system and brain development, whereas EPA is preferentially used towards managing inflammation. Ensuring that you have a high quality fish oil during pregnancy (and any other time) is essential. This is because a low quality fish oils may not just be ineffective, but may cause actual harm. This is because improper manufacturing, shipping and storage may result in exposure to heat or light which causes the fish oils to create inflammation in the body, rather than reduce it. Fish oils also need to be tested for heavy metals, and should be sourced in an environmentally responsible way. During pregnancy I recommend Professional Quality brands like Metagenics, Seroyal or Thorne or health food store brands like NutraSea or Nordic Naturals.
I recommend taking 2g/day of a regular fish oil PLUS an extra 200mg/day of a DHA heavy fish oil.
Probiotics serve multiple functions and are one of the most important supplements for general health and pregnancy health. Probiotics are the good bacteria that live in our gut, in our mucus membranes, on our skin and in the vagina. It’s easy to see how having a healthy balance of good bacteria can affect so many areas of our health!
Probiotics are important to take during pregnancy for several reasons. The first is for general health: probiotics help to maintain healthy immune function (roughly 80% of the immune system is located surrounding the digestive tract) and for regular digestive function (for example, helping to prevent and reduce constipation). Second, babies ingest the good bacteria that will populate their digestive tract while passing through the birth canal. The probiotics that mom takes orally help to make a healthy balance of good bacteria in her vagina and on her skin. Third, the bacteria on mom’s skin and in her gut are passed to baby while breast feeding. There is a “probiotic highway” that connects mom’s gut and her breast milk so that the healthy bacteria in her digestive tract get passed through dendritic cells and her lymphatic system into her breast milk and on to baby. This way of passing probiotics to baby is especially important if baby was born via C-section and didn’t get the seeding of bacteria by passing through the birth canal. And finally, there is clinical evidence for using probiotics to help prevent and treat Group B Strep. For more information about this, ask your Naturopath.
I recommend taking 30 billion cells/day minimum for basic health during pregnancy. Consider Professional brands like HMF Forte or Supreme-PB30+ DF or a health food store brand like Renew Life.
In Part 3, the final chapter of this blog post, I will discuss a couple more important supplement recommendations as well as options for when financial restrictions are at play.
The information in this blog does not constitute medical advice. You should always consult your medical provider before starting a supplement protocol.