One of my top concerns when I am pregnant is which foods I should consume each day so I can get the most important vitamins for pregnancy. Nutrition is a key component of a healthy pregnancy. Although a whole-food diet is foundational during pregnancy, (check out these pregnancy superfoods) using superior supplements can really propel your pregnancy’s health in a positive direction.
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I am currently pregnant with my second child, and wow, this pregnancy is night and day in the way I feel. I can honestly say that I don’t even realize I am pregnant the majority of the time except for needing a 20-minute power nap a few times a week.
I know that every pregnancy is different but before we tried to conceive this child, I did a ton of research on what to eat during pregnancy and most important vitamins for pregnancy.
My first pregnancy was rough. I wanted to do whatever I could to get my health in superior condition before I embarked upon that journey again.
In this post I am going to tell you what pregnancy supplements I am taking as well as the rationale. Let’s get into it!
Most Important Vitamins for Pregnancy
Disclaimer: Please do not take this post as medical advice. I am a registered nurse and have read a lot on this topic, but I can’t give personalized advice. Always partner with a trusted doctor or midwife for the best supplements for your specific needs.
The suggestions in this post involve highly bioavailable, nutrient-dense products.
1. Whole Food Based Prenatal Vitamin
You can start taking a prenatal vitamin before you try to conceive so your body has plenty of nutritional reserves in case you don’t know you are pregnant for a while.
Any women of childbearing age that is not on birth control and sexually active should probably take a prenatal vitamin as a precaution.
Even if you have a healthy diet, the soil quality these days is nothing compared to what it was before modern day agriculture. We may have more food, but it is lacking in nutrients, even organic food. (source)
A whole food based prenatal will give you a boost in essential vitamins for pregnancy such as vitamin A, B vitamins, folate, iron, DHA, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin C & D.
Avoid synthetic prenatal vitamins because they can be very hard to digest, cause unpleasant side effects like nausea and indigestion, and can actually be toxic if they build up.
Another thing to consider when choosing a prenatal vitamin is if you have a MTHFR genetic variant. Anywhere from 25-50% of the population has this genetic variant which means they have a hard time breaking down folate.
If you have had miscarriages in the past, there is a chance you have this mutation. Other symptoms of a MTHFR mutation include cardiac and clotting diseases, mental health disease such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar, migraines, and chronic pain and fatigue. (source)
If you suspect you may have this mutation you can take a prenatal vitamin that contains methylated folate.
I do not advocate for taking the synthetic version of any nutrient so watch out for prenatals that say “folic acid” because it is synthetic.
2. Grassfed Animal Organs
Grassfed what? You may have not heard this one before, but animal organs are an excellent supplement for pregnant women.
According to Dr. Mercola, “Organ meats from grass-fed animals are safe and rich in high quality amino acids, fat, B vitamins and B12, CoQ10, minerals, and “fat-soluble activators” (vitamins A, D and K), important for mineral absorption. Organ meats are extremely high in natural vitamin A, which is crucial for your health and may even prevent birth defects; unlike synthetic vitamin A, you cannot become toxic from natural vitamin A.“
Many natural pregnancy books recommend eating organs like liver and heart when you are pregnant.
I tried making palatable beef liver chili once by mixing it with pork sausage. I still found it hard to get past the irony flavor.
I decided to try these dehydrated grassfed beef organ capsules as soon as we started trying to conceive to get all the benefits or consuming organs without the taste.
So far, I have noticed a huge difference in my energy levels this pregnancy.
I mostly feel really well throughout the day. Even when I feel the urge for a power nap, after shutting my eyes for 20 minutes I am rejuvenated all the way until bedtime. And I run after a toddler all day!
Contrasted with my first pregnancy, I was taking three naps a day and chronically tired.
I can’t scientifically attribute this improvement to organ capsules but it’s hard not to wonder.
3. Cod Liver Oil
If you have read my blog for any amount of time, I am sure you have heard me mention cod liver oil over and over again.
Have a cold? Take some cod liver oil.
Is your child hyperactive? Give him cod liver oil.
There is just so many benefits to taking a teaspoon of this oil.
Not only is cod liver oil nutritionally dense and bioavailable. It provides ample DHA, which is an extremely important nutrient for a developing brain.
One study showed that taking cod liver oil in early pregnancy, was associated with higher birthweight and accordingly, lowers the risk of disease later on in life.
Taking cod liver oil in pregnancy has also shown to lower the child’s risk of type 1 diabetes. (source)
This is the brand I have taken for the past 3 years and have never been disappointed.
4. Blue-Green Algaes
There are different color algaes all offering different nutritional benefits to a pregnant mom but I am going to focus on the blue-green algae spirulina because that is the one I’m taking and have plenty of experience with.
I included spirulina as a top supplement for pregnancy because it is high in nutrients and very bioavailable. Anytime vitamins and minerals come directly from food, there is little concern of overdosing from one particular nutrient.
In reality, Spirulina isn’t really a supplement at all but more of a superfood.
Spirulina contains vitamins A, D, E, K, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, B6, B12, folate and pantothenic acid and the minerals potassium, calcium, zinc, magnesium, manganese, selenium, iron, copper, and phosphorus. (source)
Yep, it pretty much comes fully loaded.
You can certainly buy it in tablet form and skip the extra work.
Remember how I talked about soil depletion earlier. Over the years, the soil has lost not just nutrients but biodiversity of its microbiome.
Soil biodiversity is reduced due to mono-agriculture (we are growing the same plants over and over) and the use of agrochemicals such as mineral fertilizers and pesticides. (source)
This problem is unfortunately not something you can ignore in pregnancy.
You directly influence your baby’s gut microbiome through vertical transmission during gestation, during birth, and after birth through contact with your body sites, but the greatest contribution is actually from your own gut microbiome. (source)
Related: How to heal your gut naturally
Taking a high quality probiotic supplement as well as eating biodiverse foods such as kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha will help increase your gut colonies.
Also, get outside in the dirt and woods!
Pregnancy is a time where you often have food aversions, extreme fatigue, and awful GI symptoms that can make getting enough nutrients quite challenging. I for one am less motivated to cook when I am pregnant as well!
If you are having a hard time keeping food down, the supplements I recommended will help you obtain the most important vitamins for pregnancy.
It is a good idea to break up your supplements throughout the day so you aren’t putting too much strain on your liver and kidneys to process them all at once.
If you ever go to pee and its bright yellow that means you are likely losing a lot of the vitamins.
I know it can be hard to remember to take pills multiple times a day, but you will likely absorb more of the healthy goodness if you do!
I wish you a healthy pregnancy. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments.