So you found out you're expecting, CONGRATULATIONS! But, now what? Navigating the prenatal world can be overwhelming and confusing which is why I've created this guide, to help take a little bit off of your plate during this exciting yet overwhelming time.
Why supplements? While supplements should not replace REAL FOOD, your body is at an increased demand for certain nutrients. These nutrients not only impact your health but play a crucial role in the development of your baby and even have the power to lower the risk of future chronic diseases. So why not ensure your body has an optimal intake of these nutrients through supplementation?
What if I'm feeling nauseous? If nausea is a concern, try taking your supplements with food. If you’re still finding it difficult to tolerate, blend it into a smoothie!
1. PRENATAL VITAMIN Not all prenatal vitamins are created equal and with millions of products on the market, it can be quite overwhelming with determining which options would be best. Let’s start with my main concern. Many prenatal vitamins contain folic acid which is the synthetic form of folate. It is estimated that up to 70% of the population have what’s called a MTHR (short for 5-methyltetrahydrofolate) mutation which means that their body is unable to convert folic acid into the active form.  As a reminder, folate plays many important roles during pregnancy from the prevention of congenital heart defects, low birth weight and even preterm birth.  Although a prenatal with folic acid may be a touch more pricey, it is well worth the investment.You’ll often see this ingredient listed as L-methylfolate. My second concern with prenatal vitamins is that they may be missing iodine, since this isn't a mandatory ingredient in the United States. Yet, this nutrient helps support thyroid hormone production which plays an important part in the baby’s developing brain and nervous system.  Lastly, since supplements are not regulated by the FDA, we want to ensure you are getting a quality supplement that has gone through extensive testing for heavy metals.
Baby & Me Multivitamin by Innate Response (60 count)
2.FISH OIL Making sure you are meeting your omega-3 fatty acid intake is absolutely essential for you and your developing baby. And when I say essential, I mean that your body cannot make them so you need to get them through food you eat or supplementation. Since most Americans are not meeting an optimal intake of omega-3 fatty acids, supplementation helps fill the gap. Fish oils contain these omega-3 fatty acids, specifically DHA. While DHA plays an important role in everyday health, during pregnancy it is crucial for brain and vision development and as a preventative feature against pre-term labor. An added bonus for mom, the healthy fats (DHA and EPA) can also help reduce the risk of perinatal depression.  While it may be tempting to grab a cheap option at the drug store down the street, you need to make sure you are getting a QUALITY supplement. This means looking for a brand that is third party tested for contaminants like mercury, mold and PCB's (polychlorinated biphenyls, which are manmade chemicals).
3. VITAMIN D Numerous studies have linked a vitamin D deficiency to complications including preeclampsia, low birth weigh, poor postnatal growth and can even put mom at higher risk for gestational diabetes.  Unfortunately, a large number of our population is deficient in Vitamin D, especially individuals living in Northern latitudes, those with darker skin, the use of sunscreen and protective clothing. Most prenatal vitamins only offer a small amount of Vitamin D, which often do not even meet the minimum recommendations, let alone optimal levels. Multiple studies show that 4000IU Vitamin D3 per day is both essential and safe during pregnancy.  
4. CHOLINE Although not technically a vitamin, it is recognized as an essential nutrient from the Institute of Medicine, especially during pregnancy. Choline has drawn a lot of attention over the past few years due to its role in normal brain development, preventing neural tube defects and placenta development and function  (I'd say equally as important as folate). Choline is often is not included in prenatal vitamins, or only small amounts far under the recommended minimum needs.
Choline Bitartrate (500mg serving) by Douglas Laboratories
5. PROBIOTICS Consuming probiotics during pregnancy can be helpful to support a healthy maternal microbiome and can play an influential role in pregnancy risk factors and your baby’s health outcomes. What’s interesting is that we used to believe that the womb and placenta were sterile and that a baby’s first encounter with bacteria was through the birth canal. But we now see that the placenta isn’t sterile at all. It is full of bacteria which is transferred to the baby during pregnancy.  An imbalance in the microbiome has been associated with pregnancy risk factors from preterm delivery, preeclampsia,gestational diabetes and excess weight gain during pregnancy.  
Additional questions or concerns? Depending on your medical history, health history or diet, you may need a more tailored approach. If you are interested in fine tuning your supplement (and nutrition) recommendations to meet your individual needs, please email me directly for a customized nutrition consultation or with any questions you may have: firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer No information from this guide should be used to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease or condition. This information does not replace a medical diagnosis or medical attention.All information is intended to motivate readers to make their own nutrition and health decisions after consulting with their health care provider.
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