Pregnancy is a time when we women need to be especially careful of what we put into our bodies, as everything we ingest will also be passed to our little growing baby as well.
This month at Simple Organic our themes are nesting/nurturing, preparing a garden and natural pregnancy. Back in January when I asked what you, the readers, were interested in learning about, a couple of readers mentioned pregnancy, and more specifically, the question came up about supplements.
Now, I’m not a health professional of any kind, so my recommendations are simply from experience; consider that we’re just chatting about this over a cup of coffee as old friends.
Here are a few things that I think are important to consider when talking about pregnancy supplements.
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Made From Whole Foods
When it comes to vitamins, they are either derived from food sources or synthesized in a laboratory. Here’s a quick rundown at a few differences between the two from Dr. Ben Kim:
- The majority of commercial vitamin supplements are made up of synthetic vitamins
- Synthetic vitamins do not perform the same functions in your body as vitamins found naturally in whole food
- Many synthetic vitamins deplete your body of other nutrients and tax your kidneys before being excreted through your urine
As with the food we eat, I’m learning to prefer things that are closer to the state in which they started and I love the idea of supplements coming strictly from whole foods. These multivitamins are much easier to digest, and therefore more friendly to a woman with morning sickness. They can also be taken at any time, as opposed to the requirement of being taken with food, which is helpful for someone like me, who normally forgets about them until late at night, right before bed.
Whole-food prenatals definitely cost more than their conventional counterparts, but I feel that it’s a worthwhile investment in the health of my baby (and me).
We’ve talked before about the benefits of probiotics here (for example, in the context of foods we should all be eating, and in natural remedies for yeast infections). Essentially they are the good bacteria which help keep our guts healthy and in balance.
In pregnancy, I find that ingesting probiotics regularly makes a big difference in my digestion (especially in preventing constipation), so I take them both by eating yogurt (with lots of live and active cultures) often and in supplement form.
Photo by Nick Saltmarsh
Important Necessary Nutrients
I’m sure we all could argue that generations ago, our female ancestors got along fine in pregnancy without supplements, but I think it’s one of those ways that research and technology has benefitted us in the modern era.
While we can get all of our required nutrients through food, in pregnancy we want to be absolutely sure that we are doing everything we possibly can to promote a healthy environment for our helpless little babe (at least that’s how I feel). Supplements like prenatal multivitamins are like a little nutrient insurance plan that helps fill the gaps in our nutrient intake.
Some of the most important nutrients that we need to make sure we are getting during pregnancy are folate/folic acid, calcium, protein and iron, which can be found in foods like spinach, meat and dairy products.
I haven’t read it yet, but if you’re looking for some guidelines on food while pregnant, I’ve heard great things about Modern Alternative Mama‘s Healthy Pregnancy Super Foods eBook.
Organic or not? Just like food, sticking to organic supplements will insure a few things about your vitamins. They will be dye-free, made from food without hormones/antibiotics, and will probably contain less ingredients (and more natural ones, at that) than their conventional counterparts. Again, you’ll have to weigh the cost and benefits here for yourself, just like you do with food and other products.
I’ve been using a brand called New Chapter Organics Perfect Prenatal during this pregnancy, and I’ve really liked it. These came by recommendation by a friend of mine. They are made from cultured, whole foods, and therefore also have probiotics in them. I’ve never had a problem taking them on an empty stomach either.
Do you use prenatal supplements in pregnancy? What features or ingredients do you look for?