We all know that prenatal vitamins are important to take during pregnancy. What you might not know is that there are other key supplements to take when trying to conceive (TTC) and during pregnancy. In fact, it’s ideal to start taking supplements at least 6 months before you want to conceive. I know that may sound like far in advance but this allows your body to build up stores so it’s ready to support a growing life. If you are reading this while pregnant or are in the midst of TTC, that’s okay. It’s never too late to start supplementing!
Curious if we really even need supplements? I, and a lot of research studies, say yes. We are battling soil quality issues which means less nutritious food. Every day we are exposed to toxins, chemicals and stress, all which deplete of us nutrition. Eating a nutrient-dense whole foods diet is key to optimal health but even those of us who eat well still may be deficient. Look at supplementing as an insurance policy to fill in the nutritional gaps you may have.
Today I’m going to cover the basic supplements that I think are the most important for any woman to take. As far as brands, I’m recommending ones I trust and have used personally. Quality matters when it comes to supplements. I only use top quality brands so I know I’m not wasting my money with synthetic vitamins.
P.S. You can get all the supplements I recommend below 20% off, details at the end of the post.
Prenatal: Look for a whole food, organic prenatal with folate and iron. You want folate not folic acid. For more information on why folate is important, read my article here. Seeking Health is the prenatal I take and it doesn’t contain any iron. Iron is very important during pregnancy to prevent anemia but it can cause nausea and constipation. I personally could not handle the iron in my prenatal. I switched to a high quality multi-vitamin and started taking methylated folate separately and desiccated liver capsules to get iron. Now, the prenatals below that I recommend all have gentle forms of the iron or no iron at all. If you can eat liver, more power to you sista! For non liver lovers like me, you can take these capsules. Liver is an amazing superfood that supports digestion, immunity, energy, cholesterol and heart health. It’s also high in B12, B6, folate and biotin.
Tip: Take your prenatal with food to help absorption of nutrients and minimize side effects like nausea
Probiotics: I talk about probiotics a lot because the health of your gut determines your overall health. Supporting “good bacteria” is of the utmost importance, especially during pregnancy. The risk of some serious pregnancy complications can be increased with an unhealthy gut. Preterm labor, preeclampsia and gestational diabetes are all affected by your gut health. Look for a multi-strain with at least 30 billion CFU’s. If you have never taken probiotics, start out slow. They can cause bloating and BM discomfort if you take too many too quickly.
In addition to supplementing, eating fermented food is a wonderful way to get probiotics! Sauerkraut, kefir, yougurt, kimchi and kombucha are all popular fermented foods that help support healthy bacteria. If you eat a lot of fermented foods, you don’t need as high a dosage of a probiotic supplement. Some people are wary of drinking kombucha during pregnancy so do what you feel comfortable with.
Fish Oil: DHA, an omega 3 fatty acid, is important for baby’s brain and eye development.It protects against inflammation in Mom and baby, supports immunity, and is great for your skin.
People who eat fatty fish multiple times a week may not need to supplement with fish oil but I would recommend looking at the nutritional profiles and sources of what you are eating. With the state of fish being as it is, quality is super important. Great sources of DHA are sardines, wild-caught salmon, trout and roe. You can also get some DHA from some other food sources like eggs and organ meat. If you prefer to eat your DHA, Vital Choice is a website that sells top quality fish.
The dosage recommendations vary but aiming to consume at least 1,500mg of DHA a day is good. Also, find a fish oil that also has EPA as EPA helps carry the DHA across the placenta.
Favorite Brand: Nordic Naturals
Vitamin D3: Vitamin D deficiency is extremely common in pregnancy. Many of us think that if we get out in the sun everyday we will get enough. Turns out that isn’t the case as many factors affect absorption of vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency can increase a mothers risk of preeclampsia and gestational diabetes. It can also increase a baby’s risk for type 1 diabetes and asthma. Therefore, it’s super important to have adequate levels during pregnancy.
Get your levels tested before supplementing so you know how much you need. Most prenatals only contain 400-600 IU’s and during pregnancy we need a baseline of 2,000-4,000 a day. Also, look for D3 not D2, we absorb D3 better.
Tip: Take with food to increase absorption
As always, I recommend meeting with a doctor or medical practitioner before starting any new supplement protocols. Meeting with a functional doctor or practitioner to get thorough blood work done is a must-do on my prenatal prep list. I did this six months before trying to conceive. It’s important to see if you are deficient in any vitamins/minerals/fats etc. I recommend seeing a functional practitioner (naturopathic doctor, acupuncturist, nutritionist to name a few) over an OBGYN because they have access to more in depth nutrition tests and tend to specialize in the study of nutrition more. They compliment OBGYN’s in-depth medical and surgical knowledge.
Please note: You get most of these practitioner grade supplements from me 20% off, sign up for FullScript here.