When I was 2 I ate a whole bottle of Flintstones vitamins. Needless to say, a scary trip to the hospital and a stomach pumping followed. And I’ve hated taking pills ever since.
Having said that, I don’t think we can get every nutrient we need from our diets. Unfortunately, our depleted soils produce foods that aren’t as nutritionally dense as they could be. I also live a busy life, and don’t always get as many vegetables and fat soluble vitamins in each day.
So, I take pregnancy supplements, and I’ll list them out below. Now, as you can see, I took a lot of different things but the majority are FOOD-BASED and easy for our bodies to recognize and utilize. This is me using food as medicine :). The food-based doses are much less than synthetic vitamins and minerals. This makes it safer and explains why I take so many. Read through and take what works and leave the rest. Always, always, talk to your doctor or midwife to find out what is best for your body.
If you’re looking for the best prenatal vitamins, click for a whole post on that. Quick note: I take 95% of these when I’m not pregnant, so hopefully everyone can relate to this post :).
Ready? Here’s what I take for Pregnancy Supplements.
I always take my prenatal pregnancy supplement as an insurance policy to make sure the baby and I are getting what we need. We did a whole review on the best prenatal here. In my pregnancy, I used MegaFood Baby and Me Herb-Free (where to buy). This is a food-based pregnancy supplement, which I like because they are natural and easier to digest. I like MegaFood because they are high in iodine, have a good zinc/copper ration and are what I took with Griffin and Paloma. Another comparable option is the Vitamin Code prenatal, which contains additional probiotics and digestive enzymes. They’re also smaller and you take less (3 versus 4).
Again, here’s a whole post on the best prenatal vitamins for you.
Cod Liver Oil
In my opinion, this is one of the most important pregnancy supplements (and are great for nursing too). It contains naturally occurring fat soluble vitamins A & D, which are vital for baby’s brain and eye development, bone and teeth structure, and so forth. Weston A. Price, a dentist who traveled the world studying cultures with the highest longevity rates, found that the healthiest people consumed 10X the amount of fat soluble vitamins A & D so he was a huge fan of cod liver oil. This particular form of fish oil is also high in omega 3’s and the fatty acids EPA and DHA. Again, critically important for baby’s development and mom’s health.
Which cod liver oil brand is best?
There are several good brands on the market:
- If you want to try a fermented cod liver oil, which may be easier to digest, you can try this brand. (where to buy). Keep in mind that there was some controversy about whether this oil turns rancid since polyunsaturated fats (like the ones found in fish oil) are very unstable. People have had wonderful results on it and it muscle tests strong (if you believe in that testing). I took it with Paloma and she is strong, sturdy and has a good, wide palate.
- There is also a newer raw, extra virgin cod liver oil (where to buy). The taste is milder than the fermented and I’ve used before. One trusted practitioner said it isn’t as potent as the fermented and doesn’t muscle test.
- If you’re looking for a capsule form, I love Standard Process’s cod liver oil (where to buy). This is what we currently take. (My son thinks they capsules are candy and happily takes his 3 a day.) This product tests strong and is very high quality.
- If you’re looking for a more cost effective approach (as the above ones are pricey!), you can use Carlson’s Super Cod Liver Oil (where to buy). This is the one I used when pregnant with Griffin and he has a wide palate but is on the slender side (but then again, so is his daddy! 🙂 And the best price by far is Swanson’s Double Strength Cod Liver Oil (where to buy). Both of these brands are capsules and considered a “good” choice per the Weston A. Price Foundation.
Most other cod liver oils on the market, use heat to remove contaminants and naturally occurring vitamins. They then synthetically add them back in. High doses of synthetic vitamin A have been linked to birth defects so best to avoid.
What is the right dosage?
The Weston A. Price Foundation recommends up to 20,000 IU of natural, “food-based” vitamin A from cod liver oil. Keep in mind that this is more than double than what most practitioners recommend. I went with 10,000 IU and felt good about that. If you want to be super conservative, you could do 5,000 IU per day.
High Vitamin Butter Oil/Vitamin K2
Weston A. Price found that “magic” occurred when he combined cod liver oil with high vitamin butter oil and it’s special qualities.
We now know that it contains another fat soluble vitamin, vitamin K2, which helps take calcium out of the wrong places in our bodies (i.e. kidneys, arteries, etc.) and into the right places like bones and teeth. It’s also great for cancer prevention. Because vitamin K2 regulates clotting in the blood, I don’t take daily when pregnant. Instead, I took a few times a week and love it because again, it’s a food-based supplement.
I found this pregnancy supplement really helped with tooth sensitivity and keeped my skin super soft. I rotated between taking the butter oil (where to buy) and the cheaper vitamin K2 supplement (where to buy), which is derived from fermented soy (natto). Again, the more we can get nutrients from food, the better!
I started taking a vitamin B complex (where to buy) about 6 months before I got pregnant. My midwife suggested this to build up my folate stores. I took this one from Vitamin Code. I’ve also taken MegaFood’s vitamin B complex. Since I still had some left, I kept taking it as a pregnancy supplement here and there throughout the first trimester. I also took 50 mg of Vitamin B6 with each meal to help with first trimester nausea. It worked great! I stopped taking at 14 weeks once the queasiness went away. If you have the MTHFR mutations, you will want to take a methylated B vitamin like this one. If you are looking for a purely food-based option, take a tablespoon of bee pollen and/or add 2 TB of nutritional yeast flakes to your yogurt or smoothie each day. I like this brand because they don’t add any synthetic B’s to the flakes.
I’ve seen stats that state anywhere from 60-95% of the U.S. population is deficient in magnesium. This pregnancy supplement also helps with morning sickness. Most importantly, it keeps things moving… if you get my drift. When we get pregnant, the hormones can slow things down, including our digestion and bowels. Magnesium is a wonderful remedy for constipation.
The rule of thumb for dosage is to take magnesium until your stool get loose. Then dial back. For me, the perfect dosage seems to be about 500 mg a day. I would recommend a combination of Pure Encapsulations Magnesium Glycinate and Ancient Minerals Magnesium spray, which you apply topically. Update: Do not use magnesium citrate supplements as these drop your ceruloplasmin levels. You can read more about here.
I’ve also discovered the wonders of vitamin C. Unfortunately, most prenatals are very low in this important vitamin. The key is to use a food-based form of vitamin C. Ascorbic acid is usually derived from GMO-corn and is a synthetic isolate that can cause imbalances elsewhere in the body. Just 1/2-1 teaspoon of a good food-based fruit powder will give you a great boost of natural C, with all of its natural co-factors, to keep your immune system strong. Vitamin C is also excellent when pregnant because it strengthens your bag of waters (possibly preventing premature rupture) and it’s super nourishing for your baby’s placenta. It also helps to regulate copper and iron levels in the body.
I like taking one while pregnant and I rotate my brands to expose myself to as many different bacterial strains as possible. Right now, I’m using Natren. I like it because it’s high in bifidophilus, which is important for good gut health. I’ve also used Klaire Labs, Dr. Ohrika, and Bio-K. But my favorite probiotic is probably Prescript Assist since it’s a hearty soil-based organism. Just Thrive is another great soil-based one. It’s more “natural” than some of the other isolated strains. Of course, a great, food-based way to get good probiotics is eat fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, kimchi, kombucha, sauerkraut, etc.
I think everyone can benefit from taking one. I like these digestive enzymes from Vitamin Code. Just one at each meal takes away any indigestion. I’ve also used HCL with Pepsin, which worked well too.
So there you have it… the pregnancy supplements I’m taking this time around. Take what works for you and leave the rest 🙂
Are you pregnant? Planning a baby shower?
Take a look at my baby registry checklist, a handy visual guide featuring everything you need and nothing you don’t 😉
Would love to hear from YOU. What pregnancy supplements do YOU take and why? Share with us!