ByDr Mahalia Freed, ND
Why do you take a prenatal multivitamin?
Does it have everything you need to stay healthy during pregnancy? (No!)
Does it contain all the nutrients your baby needs for optimal growth? (No!)
Multivitamins are sometimes described as a supplement “insurance policy”. Do you have the right insurance?
People don’t question whether or not to take a prenatal multivitamin. Even those who wouldn’t think to take a vitamin when not pregnant or trying to conceive assume they should take a prenatal. The intention behind this is noble, if somewhat symptomatic of the health concerns I see in practice: when nurturing another life, people are way more responsible than they are for themselves alone. Riding this trend, I encourage you to use the motivation of pregnancy or pregnancy preparation to enhance your own health. I also encourage you to work with a practitioner to determine what nutrients YOUR body needs, and in what dose.
Fact: nutritional needs change during pregnancy. You need more protein, more calories, and more of a variety of specific nutrients (for those of you who like the details, see chart below for an incomplete list of top nutrients).
Tahini, or sesame seed paste, is a great source of calcium, and an excellent non-dairy base for creamy dips, dressings and sauces. Two simple options are below.
- 1/4 cup Tahini
- 1 clove Garlic, pressed or chopped
- Sea salt to taste
- Juice of 1/2 – 1 Lemon
Combine all ingredients in a glass jar, adding enough water to reach your desired sauce consistency. Adjust seasonings to taste. Mix well. Pour over steamed veggies, grains, beans, salads… For a maximum calcium boost, try tahini sauce over kale & broccoli!
Variation: use tamari (~ 2 tbsp) instead of salt and lemon juice
- 1/4 cup Tahini
- 1/4 cup Miso (light or dark, depending on the taste you want – light is sweeter, dark is stronger)
Combine tahini and miso in a jar, adding enough water to get your desired consistency. Adjust ratio of ingredients to taste. Use less water to make a great dip for raw veggies, or thin to make a sauce for cooked greens, grains, broiled fish, etc.
Vitamin D3 supplementation (at 1200 IU per day) decreases incidence of Influenza A (common ‘flu) in children compared to placebo. (Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 May; 91(5) 1255-60)
Trying to conceive? Higher concentrations of Vitamin D in follicular fluid are an independent predictor of the success of IVF treatment. Vitamin D is hypothesized to support ovarian/uterine hormone production.
Pregnant? Women given adequate supplemental Vitamin D during pregnancy are less likely to develop high blood pressure or preeclampsia. Their babies are less likely to develop type I diabetes. Vitamin D helps support healthy immunity, and prevents autoimmune conditions like type I diabetes from developing.
How much do I take? Current Canadian guidelines vary between organizations, and what you need to take will depend on (i) your blood levels; (ii) the amount of sun exposure without sunscreen you get; (iii) your skin colour; and, (iv) the season. Please consult your ND for an individual prescription.
Babies: 400 IU per day, with more (800 – 1200 IU per day) in winter months, and after 1 year (as weight increases, so does necessary dose).
Breast Feeding: Current study recommendations are for supplementing as high as 6400 IU, though common prescriptions are for 2000-4000 IU per day.
Adults, non-pregnant: Recommendations range, as do individual needs. *Get your blood levels checked first. Common supplemental doses range from 2000- 5000 IU per day, although some people do not require supplementation.
(Study References Available Upon Request)