Supplementing during pregnancy and while breastfeeding can be scary – especially since many vitamins aren’t tightly regulated. How do you know what to take? Are you taking enough, or too much? Which brands are legit?
While I generally like people to get their vitamins and minerals through food, pregnancy and post-pregnancy is one time where you can’t afford to take chances. There are key nutrients you need and since our soils are so depleted it can be tough to get adequate amounts through food alone, so safe supplementation is the best way to be sure. Here are my recommendations for what to take when you’re pregnant and nursing:
The RIGHT kind of folic acid
If you’re trying to get pregnant or already are pregnant chances are you’ve heard you need to take folic acid. Well this isn’t technically true. What you need is folate. Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate and our bodies don’t really know how to processes it as well as natural folate. You can read all about that in Chris Kresser’s article here. This means it’s best to get your folate recommendation – which is about 600-800mcg while you’re pregnant – from food sources and supplementation. The supplement form you want to have is called “5-methyltetrahydrofolate” or “5-MTHF”.
The best food sources are: chicken or calf’s liver (you can make pate!) and lots of vegetables like romaine lettuce, spinach, asparagus, turnip greens, mustard greens, parsley, collard greens, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, and lentils.
Brands: Solgar, Designs for Health, Thorne, Metabolic Maintenance, Pure Encapsulations, Biotics
A good multi
This is like a little insurance to make sure you’re getting all the nutrients you need even if you’re diet isn’t perfect. But all multivitamins aren’t created equal. Here are my favorite brands (and all have the right kind of folate):
Thorne Basic Prenatal
Garden of Life Prenatal
Pure Synergy PureNatal
Reasearch shows that one of the most important factors that determines your child’s immune system is the health of your own gut bacteria. So to help promote good, healthy flora I think everyone should take a probiotic in addition to eating probiotic foods.
Food sources: yogurt and kefir with “live active cultures”, raw sauerkraut and kimchee, kombucha.
Brands: Garden of Life, Jarrow, Prescript Assist
I recommend starting with one capsule at bedtime and working your way up to the dose on the bottle (usually 3). If you experience any digestive changes (consipation / diarrhea) back down your dose and increase more slowly.
Prebiotics are just as – if not more – important as probiotics when it comes to creating good gut bacteria. You can get prebiotics through food sources as well as supplementing with Bob’s Red Mill potato starch. Start with 1 Tbs a day dissolved in liquid (like a smoothie or yogurt) and work your way up to 4 Tbs.
Food sources: dandelion greens, raw garlic, raw and cooked onions, raw asparagus, bananas.
Cod Liver Oil
Last but not least, my favorite superfood, cod liver oil. The omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA in CLO are critical for your baby’s brain development, and vitamins A and D are essentially for proper bone structure and formation.
I like Green Pasture Butter Oil / Fermented Cod Liver Oil blend (1 Tsp / day) or Original Nutritionals (2 Tsp / day)
By Grace McCalmon
The Real Food Nanny