The time pre-conception all through to weaning is a potent time to create and maintain conditions for optimal development to optimize your and your growing babe’s life. Although I work with clients of all ages I find the younger years to be by far the most obvious time when health education, a supportive environment and good nutrition reaps enormous benefits.
Nutritional supplementation is an easy way to impact your growing babe. This is a time to go for the best quality you can find – you are investing in your child’s future and it doesn’t take much to cover the essentials once you know what they are.
When looking for what supplements to include at this time here’s the Core Four (plus 1) and what to look for when choosing:
1. Prenatal Multi – we have known for a long time about the importance of Folic acid in healthy development and how important it is to have good levels of this at conception. As long as you and your partner are open for the business of making babies taking a prenatal supplement is wise. Here’s the thing you may not know: new research is showing that the form of folic acid is important. Many supplements are still using the non-active form of folic acid which means you may not be able to utilize it. 1 out of every 6 people are being found to have difficulty utilizing folic acid in the traditional form so what you want to be looking for is a prenatal supplement with the biologically active form of folate which is 5 MTHF. It’s the form that is present in your folic acid rich foods – the supplement will have therapeutic levels to prevent complications from a deficiency. Having some extra doses of key minerals like calcium and magnesium can help prevent leg cramps in pregnancy and are key nutrients to make sure you have enough of at this time. Make sure your supplement is giving you this especially if your diet is low or you are showing any signs of being deficient - you want to come into motherhood bursting with health and extra reserves ! (trust me on this one …(-: )
2. Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) – in the last 16 years since I graduated from Naturopathic Medical School the importance of EFAs in creating and maintaining health at all ages as stages has become pretty common knowledge. The value of it in pregnancy, infancy and early childhood to support healthy growth and neurological development is well-researched and common practice – now you see DHA in baby formulas and as a core piece of pregnancy wellness protocols. It is a key nutrient for healthy eye development too – really effects those highly innervated tissues in the body like our eyes and of course our brain and whole nervous system. With EFAs, the two pieces I am looking at when looking for a supplement are: 1. Quantity- good levels of EPA and DHA and 2.Quality: I am super picky about this point especially at this time of development and only choose companies where extensive testing is part of their manufacturing practices to ensure no heavy metals, PCBs, pesticides, etc. are present – the best companies have their EFA supplements tested at many stages of development and by third party labs. You can ask whatever fish oil company you order from for a third party lab assay for the batch you bought– not that you’re really interested in seeing a lab assay (beyond boring in my opinion) but it will give you an idea of the company’s attention to this – you just want it to be clean.
3. Vit D – well this nutrient has stepped into its own limelight in the last years and a common opinion among health professionals is that you are deficient unless proven otherwise! I am an advocate of the healing power of the basics and recommend you do what you can to get outside in nature and sun every day and make sun and forest exposure a regular part of your life – our eyes need that sunlight too so take those sunglasses off for a period of time too to reap those extra benefits. The new recommended, dose in the literature in pregnancy is 1,000 iu but many suspect this will go up as safety levels for vitamin D have been going up in all populations. We always err on the side of caution with pregnancy as this is such a influential time.
4. Choline – this is one you may or may not have heard about yet. This has jumped into the Core 4 based on the research and its impact on health fetal brain development, cell signaling and membrane structure – key for healthy early development.
5. Plus: Probiotics – again, the value of probiotics has become common knowledge and is a common supplement I recommend to pregnant moms if it tests well and client history or symptoms suggests it. If there are any digestive symptoms, allergies in the family, tendency to depression for example then I recommend it. There are many different probiotic supplements out there and through a device I have at my clinic that can test compatibility I have seen a broad range of probiotic supplements test well and be beneficial for clients. My favorite are the supplements based on human strains (rather than cow) – Human Micro Flora(hmf) by Seroyal and the Ultra Flora brands by Metagenics are well loved by my clients as are the Natren brands available at our local health food stores.
Keeping things simple is a priority for me and something I am always striving for in my family and work life. With that in mind I want to share with you a supplement I love for its simplicity at covering the basics …well. It is called Wellness Essentials for Pregnancy and is an excellent product if you are a mom who wants to keep it simple and relax in knowing that your and your babe’s extra and specific nutrient needs are met at this time. Basically the company who put this together are impressively on top of what is nutritionally best for pregnant moms and their growing babes and know that very few of us enjoy taking supplements – so they make it super easy. They have packaged the essentials into an easy one little packet per day – a mom must have been part of their product planning!
Aside from the easy delivery, I like it because it provides the Core 4 in exactly the way I would like to see it.
Here’s a summary of what I like:
1. Their multi has extra calcium and magnesium and the folic acid content is 600 mcg active form, 400 mcg standard folic acid – again, they are right up there incorporating the latest research into their products.
2. They have optimal levels of EPA and DHA (600mg) in their EFA caps and their quality control for the fish oils is way beyond what is necessary by industry standards – i.e. they do more testing than they are required to do and the level of testing also far exceeds what they need to do – they test for over 250 contaminants and use technology that again exceeds the requirements - all this lets me know that they know (and care) a lot about the importance of a clean product for mamas like you and growing babes.
3. Vit D is in the D3 form and is at the new recommended dose of 1,000 iu.
4. Choline is in there too at the dose of 175g choline – perfect.
Obviously a lot of care went into this product. It can carry you and your babe from preconception to weaning. It is available in Canada and the States. To order through my clinic call 403 609-8385 or email firstname.lastname@example.org – it can be picked up or shipped to your home (Canada only). 1 month supply - $77.00 for office pickup option. $87.00 to have it delivered.
I hope this helped give you some practical info to help in the area of nutritional support and wish you a WONDER full day.
Shine on mama. (-:
Dr. Monika Herwig BSc ND
Open to Wellness Naturopathic Clinic in the Canmore, Alberta