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Prenatal vitamins: the essentials

Want to optimize your prenatal health?

Start thinking beyond prescription prenatals. And if you are taking a prescription prenatal, have you read all the ingredients??

Not all prenatal vitamins are created equal and sometimes a little naturopathic expertise can help to get you more of what you need, and less of what you don't!

Here's my top 3 essentials when it comes to prenatal supplements:

  1. A clean fish oil supplement with at least 300mg DHA daily (to support baby’s brain development) - and ideally extra vitamin D too (to prevent asthma / support immune function) - quality matters to prevent heavy metals. If you want additional mood support for yourself, a high EPA fish oil will help.

  2. CoQ10 if: over 35 years old, at risk of pre-eclampsia, hypertension or history of miscarriages (CoQ10 supports your mitochondria which also means it can help with low energy)

  3. A multivitamin: with sufficient levels and optimal forms of the essentials ...

Prenatal Multivitamin breakdown:

  • Folate (vitamin B9) - active folate (ie. methyltetrahydrofolate - or 5-MTHF) is very important if you can’t convert it - if you have pre-existing diabetes or obesity, you also likely need a much higher dose! Also look for other B-vitamins like B6 and B12 in active forms - B6 as "P5P" and B12 as "methylcobalamin" - and higher doses to prevent nausea and fatigue!

  • Zinc - also prevents neural tube defects and fetal distress, shortens labour duration - and is depleted when we take iron supplements! You’ll need extra zinc if supplementing with extra iron. Always take with food or it can cause nausea

  • Iron - form matters - ferrous fumarate is poorly absorbed and causes nausea/constipation - try a bisglycinate, polysaccharide, liposomal or heme source - take extra iron away from supplemental zinc or calcium - taking iron with food is fine (especially iron-rich food)

Ingredients to AVOID in your prenatal supplements:

  • (X) titanium - a heavy metal (can cause fatigue, headaches)

  • (X) colours

  • (X) other chemicals/fillers that can disrupt hormones (ie. corn starch, talc, PEG, shellac, sodium lauryl sulfate, ammonia)

***read the ingredients on your prescription prenatals carefully!! (PregVit has all of these in it!!)

As always, this is not a post that can diagnose or recommend products for your specific condition. I welcome you to book an appointment to discuss your supplement regime in the context of your own health! Optimizing prenatal supplements also means getting support for any specific issues - I often recommend tests beyond CBC and ferritin - like B12, RBC folate, vitamin D, lipids.

Dr. Natalie Senst, ND

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