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Maternal Journey and Prenatal Vitamins

The importance of optimal nutrition is crucial during a women’s reproductive years. In this blog, we will take a look at prenatal vitamins and some key nutrients needed during pregnancy and lactation.

One of the most memorable times in a woman’s life is her arrival into motherhood. It is a time filled with joy, excitement and wonder. There is also some expected hesitation or mild concern, as so many things cross your mind. Knowing what you should be eating is at the top of most women’s lists. You want to get it right. You know at this stage that food choices are ultra-important as well as the safety of the foods you eat. For those women who are great planners (kudos to you!), you might be wondering when to start taking prenatal vitamins or what is the difference between folate vs folic acid? These are all excellent questions that I will cover in this blog, in addition to looking at what supplements for breastfeeding are encouraged.

If you are looking to find some guidance on nutrition during your reproductive years, then you will want to stay tuned to find out what supportive prenatal vitamins and nutrients to take and how optimal nutrition and care can lead to better understanding your maternal journey.

Proper Nutrition

Whether you are a first-time mommy or an experienced parent expecting again---Congratulations! Whether you are smooth sailing through the trimesters or bogged down with nausea and vomiting, it is important to stay well hydrated, get in adequate calories and consume a diet chock full of nutrients from whole foods like whole grains, fruits, veggies, lean protein and healthy fats too. Balancing the plate is sometimes difficult when you are not feeling the best, but your nutrient needs and the needs of your unborn baby are top priority. So, let’s talk about some essential nutrients in your prenatal vitamin.

Take Your Prenatal Vitamin

Women often want to know how to pick the best prenatal vitamin and what to look for to ensure it checks off all of the boxes

  • A prenatal vitamin like PreNatal Nutrients is a great place to start.
  • PreNatal Nutrients is a multivitamin/mineral complex that provides the nutrients needed to help support maternal and fetal health in the doses that are consistent with the accepted scientific recommendations for pregnant and lactating women.
  • This prenatal supplement provides 100 mg of choline to support fetal central nervous system development.
  • It also provides 1 mg of folate as folic acid and Metafolin L-5-MTHF, the naturally occurring, universally metabolized form of folate, for optimal neural and cellular development.1,2 ‡
  • Taking a prenatal vitamin is important prior to pregnancy, as well as a supportive supplement for breastfeeding.

Folate vs. Folic Acid-What’s the Deal?

  • So many women ask, “What’s the difference between folate vs. folic acid?”
  • Folate is an essential B vitamin. It is also known as Vitamin B9. This water-soluble B vitamin occurs in several different forms.
  • Folic acid is a synthetic (aka man made) form of folate. It can be found in supplements, as well as fortified foods like cereals, breads, rice, and pasta, to name a few.
  • Other folates, like L-5-methyltetrahydrofolate (L-5-MTHF), occur in natural food sources like dark, green leafy veggies (spinach, romaine lettuce and other greens like brussel sprouts, broccoli, asparagus). Natural folate is also found in legumes, oranges, orange juice, grapefruit, avocados, bananas and eggs.
  • Diets rich in folate (as folic acid or natural folates) help the body produce new red blood cells, the formation of nucleic acids, and maintain the health of other cells. That’s why it is super important in prenatal health.
  • Importantly, folate helps to support healthy fetal neural development.3 ‡

Essential Fatty Acids-Eye and Brain Development

  • Babies in utero depend on their mother’s intake to get Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) delivered to them. It is a challenge for most pregnant women however, to meet their daily omega-3 requirements from only foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids.4
  • Therefore, supplementing DHA and Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) should be considered.
  • DHA is important for supporting brain development, central nervous system and eye health for babies.5 ‡
  • If you do not consume an adequate amount of foods rich in these fatty acids on a daily basis, talk to your doctor about a supplement. Our EPA/DHA essentials or EPA/DHA with lemon, provides ultra-pure, microfiltered fish oil concentrates and are 3rd party tested for heavy metals and environmental contaminants.

Other Key Nutrients

Iron

  • We know as a mom-to be you are doing the best you can to ensure a healthy diet for you and your growing baby, but sometimes, as you have seen, the nutrient demands throughout pregnancy are great and keeping changing throughout the trimesters.
  • During your pregnancy, there is an increase for the demand for iron because you are making more blood (increasing blood volume) and more red blood cells. You should obtain most of your iron from natural food sources. A prenatal multivitamin can help you meet your daily needs.
  • Iron is an important component of hemoglobin in red blood cells and myoglobin in muscle cells where it is required to transport oxygen and carbon dioxide.
  • Iron is necessary to make myoglobin, a transporter of oxygen found in muscle tissue, where it enables muscle contractions.
  • Your doctor will continue to test your blood iron and monitor your status. He or she will let you know if you need to increase your iron intake further.

Calcium

  • Calcium is another important and essential nutrient during pregnancy.
  • Your baby needs calcium to ensure proper development of bones, teeth, muscles and other important functions.
  • But even if you aren’t consuming enough calcium, your little one will take priority and borrow calcium from your own stores (i.e., your bones).
  • It is essential for you to ensure that your intake of calcium is meeting your needs during your pregnancy and also through your lactation period.
  • Pregnant and lactating women need 1,000 mg-1,300 mg each day, depending on their age.6
  • Since prenatal vitamins may not have all the calcium you need to ensure you are meeting the mark, you may need to ensure adequate intake from other sources. You can speak with your doctor about supplementing with Calcium (citrate).
  • Calcium citrate is a highly bioavailable form of calcium, which can help support bone health and your nutritional needs.
  • It is also made with high-quality vegan ingredients that is backed by verifiable science.

Your Journey

  • You may experience appetite changes, cravings or morning sickness throughout your pregnancy. If you do, just try your best to listen to your body.
  • Meeting all your nutritional needs at this time may not be the easiest, so try your best to see what works for you. Some days the bites may be small but frequent, and other days you may need to stagger the times of day that you can best tolerate your meals.
  • As long as you are gaining the appropriate amount of weight you and your doctor discussed, your labs are looking good, and your beautiful baby is growing and developing, you are doing a great job.
  • Speak with your physician if you are planning to become pregnant and discuss when to start taking prenatal vitamins and omega 3’s.
  • Journal your thoughts, feelings, and the changes you are experiencing.
  • Remember, take each day as it comes as you embark on this beautiful journey into motherhood!
Wishing you the very best!
With great intentions - Purely for you.

    1. Milunsky A. JAMA. 1989 Nov 24;262(20):2847- 52.
    2. Prinz-Langenohl R, et al. Br J Pharmacol. 2009 Dec; 158(8): 2014–2021.
    3. J. David Erickson, D.D.S., Ph.D, CDC Recommendations and Reports, Sept.2002;51(RR13); 1-3. Folic Acid and Prevention of Spina Bifida and Anencephaly (cdc.gov)
    4. Greenberg, James A, et al. Reviews in Obstetrics & Gynecology vol. 1,4 (2008): 162-9.
    5. Coletta JM, Bell SJ,et al. Rev Obstet Gynecol. 2010;3(4):163-71.
    6. Calcium - Health Professional Fact Sheet (nih.gov)