"What do you take for supplements while pregnant?" is probably the most frequent question I've gotten while on this pregnancy journey. I've always considered myself pretty healthy and in-the-know about what to eat in order to stay balanced and getting what I need from my fruit to feel strong and vibrant, but becoming pregnant has made me step my game up even more and made me realize there was still a ton I didn't know! I would recommend getting these nutrients whether you're pregnant or not (you may need slightly different levels however if you're pregnant vs not pregnant)! You'd think that your doctor would tell you these types of things in detail when you go in for an appointment, so I was kind of surprised when nutrition wasn't even covered at any of my appointments when I was seeing an OB unless I asked specific questions. Once I transferred over to the care of my midwife, they covered nutrition and eating in such beautiful ways so that was very helpful. Most of what I learned I needed was done by researching and reading blogs, etc. If I was never sure about a particular ingredient, vitamin, supplement, etc., I'd always make sure I'd ask the doctor/midwife to make sure I was on the right track. While some say you should aim to get most of your nutrients from food sources and just take supplements for what you know you're not getting enough of. I like to tackle that from both ends I guess - getting it from food and a supplement to make sure I'm getting an adequate amount.
The following are the supplements I take, when, and a brief explanation of why:
• Prenatal Multi Vitamin - Garden of Life My Kind Organics Once Daily
I take this every morning after I finish breakfast. I chose this vitamin because it was easy on my stomach, had a high level of folate (the recommended daily amount during pregnancy ranges around 600 - 800 mcg) which helps to prevent neural tube defects like spina bifida, etc., has a high content of vitamin B6 which helps ease morning sickness, the B12 used is methylcobalamin which I prefer to cyanocobalamin, it has a daily supply of iodine (which is important, especially if you're not getting it in the salt you use for cooking. I even read that Iodine can help protect the baby around second hand smoke and air pollutants), daily iron, and overall most of the ingredients come from plant sources and not made synthetically in a lab which is a huge plus for me!
Food sources of folate: dark leafy greens, asparagus, broccoli, citrus fruits, beans, peas, lentils (one cup has 90% of your DV!), avocado, okra, brussel sprouts, seeds and nuts, cauliflower, beets, celery, carrots, squash.
• Calcium/Magnesium Supplement with vegan vitamin D - Country Life
Calcium helps muscles contract and magnesium helps muscles relax. I recently learned in a nutrition course at my birthing center that the body is so smart it'll do everything it can to feed and supply nutrients to the baby. So that means that if baby needs more calcium or magnesium and momma isn't taking in enough for both her and baby, the body will favor the baby leaving the mother potentially with symptoms like muscle cramps, yellowing teeth (due to calcium being extracted), etc. Being vegan I chose to get my calcium from a supplement in addition to my food, especially while pregnant. I don't like drinking fortified milks if I can avoid it (mainly because its never really labeled where the vitamin is being derived from). I always research the detailed ingredients on the back of the bottle to see what type of nutrient it is (synthetically made vs natural/ what it's source is, etc). Vitamin D is needed to help calcium absorb into the body so you'll commonly find vitamin D in calcium supplements. My midwife recommended I take this separate from my prenatal because iron and calcium bind which causes them to not be properly absorbed into body. I take this around lunch or dinner time once daily.
Food sources for calcium: fortified non-dairy milks, fortified orange juice, collard greens, fortified breakfast cereals, turnip greens, mustard greens, bok choy, tempeh, tahini, oats, kale, edamame, almond butter/almonds, navy beans, broccoli, etc.
• Vitamin D
I get this from my calcium/magnesium supplement, but I also use the Garden of Life Vitamin D oral spray with omega oil when I need extra vitamin D.
Like I said in the previous section, vitamin D helps calcium absorb. It also can be obtained by receiving sunlight upon the skin. Be careful however, if you're looking for a vegan supplement make sure it either states that it is in fact vegan or that it's at least not derived from lanolin, which is where a lot of vitamin D in cereal comes from.
Food sources for vitamin D: mushrooms, fortified nut milk, fortified cereals, fortified tofu, supplements.
• Omega oil - Spectrum Vegan Ultra Omega 3 / Garden of Life Vitamin D Oral Spray / Udo's Oil
I take this once daily around lunch or dinner.
Omegas help brain function not only in you but also in baby and the development of the brain. DHA is the one that supplies nutrients to brain development whereas EPA supplies nutrients to the overall system and helps with inflammation. Sometimes you'll read that fish oil is the only place you can get these from but it is said the reason certain fish contain these benefits is because of the algae they eat. Most vegan Omega’s are from algae or things like sunflower, flax seed, pumpkin seed oil, etc.
Food sources for vegan omegas: flax seeds (ground), chia seeds, hemp seeds, seaweed, beans, winter squash, leafy greens, broccoli rabe, collards, kale, cabbage, berries, wild rice, mangoes, honeydew melon.
• Vitamin B Spectrum - Most are in my Prenatal Multivitamin
The entire range of B vitamins play an important role in your health and strength while baby is developing. It helps with baby/s development and it can aid in certain pregnancy symptoms like morning sickness (B6). For more information about what specific foods to eat that naturally contain each particular vitamin, click here!
Food sources of vitamin B12: fortified nutritional yeast, fortified plant milks, etc.
• Pre/Probiotic - Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Prenatal Probiotic or VegLife 100% Vegan Proboitic
**I have since contacted Garden of Life to inquire deeper about whether or not their probiotic is in fact vegan. They told me no animal ingredients are used in making this probiotic (making it vegan), however they won't say it's vegan because of the live culture bacteria... (which is not an animal product). Other certified vegan probiotics use the same cultures**
I take this once daily.
Probiotics help with building and strengthening the immune system, digestive track, and down the road with reducing risk of Group B Strep which is a type of bacteria that can occur in the mother and if you test positive, your practitioner will treat you with intravenous antibiotics during labor. There are other ways to avoid this as well like a regimented taking of echinaccea, vitamin C and zinc. This isn’t recommended until later in the pregnancy around 34 weeks before doing the culture around 36 weeks. Prebiotics are what help "protect" the probiotics to aid in helping for of them get to their destination before dying the digestion process.
Food sources of probiotics: fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles, kombucha, vegan kefir, miso, vegan yogurt with live active cultures.
None of these products listed are sponsored or paid for in anyway by said brand. All of these products are recommended purely on my experience with them.