Congratulations! You’re pregnant (or thinking about becoming pregnant). There’s so much whirling through your mind right now and one topic is likley supplements.
If this little one is a surprise, you might not already be taking a prenatal. That’s definitely a key supplement you want to start right away. Ideally, if you are planning for a baby, start a prenatal 3-6 months prior to the actual date you want to conceive. This will just help nutritionally support your body as you ovulate.
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A prenatal should have just about everything your body needs to support a pregnancy. You want to ensure there is iron, B12 and folate. Ideally it will also have trace minerals like iodine and other minerals like calcium and magnesium. It’s also beneficial to take a whole food based prenatal vitamin. This helps enhance absorption of what’s in the vitamin and whole food brands do not have any artificial colours, flavours or additives.
Vitamin C is an important vitamin to take during pregnancy for many reasons. Vitamin C is an antioxidant and it helps support your immune system. When you become pregnant, your immune system is weakened slightly and Vitamin C will help support it. Vitamin C is also needed for collagen production. As you know, your body rapidly changes during pregnancy. Your blood volume doubles and your skin stretches. Vitamin C will help keep the walls of your arteries, veins and capillaries strong and keep your skin stretching gracefully. I chose to supplement with 2,000 – 4,000 mg of Vitamin C daily on top of a nutritious diet.
Vitamin D is important for your developing baby’s bone health and teeth. It is also an important vitamin when it comes to immune function. Most people in the northern hemisphere are Vitamin D deficient. This is largely due to not getting enough sun (our body can make Vitamin D when exposed to UV rays), covering up in the colder months and sunscreen. I chose to supplement with 4,000 – 5,000 IU daily. This is because the current recommendations are low based upon the safety and efficacy of higher doses of Vitamin D. Always check with your primary care practitioner to have your vitamin D levels tested. This will determine the most appropriate supplementation amount.
I was taking additional B12 prior to getting pregnant. In fact, I had been taking it for years. The reason I chose to take additional B12 (even prior to pregnancy) is that I was following a plant based diet. Most B12 found in food, is found in animal foods so diets that are plant based are typically lower in B12. B12 is also needed to maintain high iron levels. It was recommended to me by my naturopath and was a supplement I continued to take.
Omega 3’s (from Fish Oil)
Omega 3’s are important for moisture retention in your skin which also helps with the stretching. In addition they are an excellent anti-inflammatory supplement that also have research to support aiding the developing brain and eyes of the fetus. I am using this brand.
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that help us digest our food, produce neurotransmitters and vitamins and protect our immune system. They help reduce gas and bloating, keep yeast counts in our gut in check and reduce inflammation. Your immune system lies within your gut so this will also help support your immune system and keep you regular which is important when those pregnancy hormones have your bowels getting backed up.
Collagen is an essential addition to a pregnant woman’s routine. Specifically, powdered collagen from a marine or bovine source. It’s beneficial for your growing uterus and skin especially if you’re over 25 as around this time, our body’s production of collagen starts to decline by 1% per year. Collagen is an important protein that supports the skin’s elasticity and structure. It also helps keep your skin looking plump and youthful. Aura™ Nutrition has a wonderful marine collagen. It’s sourced from Canadian waters and is made from wild caught, deep water Atlantic white fish. Mixes easily into a coffee, an elixir or your smoothie. (It’s linked above to browse and shop) .
Collagen will help support the natural elasticity of the skin through the production of elastin, helping it to stretch. This also important for your growing blood vessels. Collagen is an excellent source of the amino acid glycine. Glycine is also found in gelatin and slow cooked meats (pulled pork, bone broth, chicken soup) due to the breakdown of the animals connective tissue. According to Registered Dietitian and prenatal nutrition educator, Lily Nichols , “the demand for glycine during pregnancy may already exceed the capacity for it’s synthesis, making it conditionally indispensable”.
Glycine is needed for the synthesis of fetal DNA and collagen, among other functions. It’s particularly important…later in pregnancy when your baby is gaining weight rapidly. Your baby’s developing bones, connective tissues, organs, and skin need glycineLily Nichols, RDN, Real Food for Pregnancy Chp 3, pg 37
Magnesium is needed for over 300 reactions in our body. It helps relax our muscles which includes the muscle of our GI tract. This is helpful if you’re finding yourself constipated during your pregnancy. Magnesium will also help with those leg cramps you might be getting (especially towards the end of pregnancy) as well as keeping your blood pressure under control. If you find yourself getting headaches during pregnancy, magnesium will also help provide relief.
Liquid Calcium (for heartburn)
This was a supplement I used only when I had heartburn. Early in pregnancy that was a few times a week. I didn’t have much during the second trimester and then it came back a little bit in the end of the third trimester. I used this calcium here I like this brand because it uses a dose of calcium that is well absorbed in a form well tolerated by most people. It is also balanced with vitamin D and magnesium. This is a much better replacement than chewable heartburn tablets as it does not contain any artificial colours, flavours, sweeteners and preservatives.
These are the supplements I chose to take based upon my education and knowledge as well as research I did. As always. speak with your OB or midwife about any supplements you want to take during pregnancy.