My post this week was inspired by a question from a reader wondering what supplements she should take during her Paleo pregnancy. As always, I'm happy to answer questions and sometimes, like today, even elaborate a bit further. I hope you enjoy!
More is not always better!
I do a comprehensive health history with every woman I see. Part of this process is asking what supplements she's taking. I often see women with a laundry list of supplements a mile long! It seems both insane and totally overwhelming to both them and me! Unlike with chocolate, when more is always better, supplementing with high doses of vitamins and herbs is not always the best approach.
If you have a care provider than can test your levels of certain vitamins and minerals such as Vit C, zinc, Vit D, calcium ect then you will have a pretty good guideline on what and how much and what you need to supplement.
Vit D serves as a pretty good example. For the past 5 years, I’ve universally been recommending that all pregnant women should supplement with a minimum of 5000IU of Vit D. I frequently test women’s levels at the beginning of pregnancy; many are deficient, according to the lab reference ranges, which has supported my recommendation. However, new research suggests that optimal vit D levels may be much less than what was previously thought and may fall within the lower limit of the reference ranges. In response to this, I now base my supplementation guidelines on a client's individual levels, exposure to sunlight, risk for type 2 diabetes, dietary consumption of vit K/A/D and cultural practices (is her face or body covered for most of the year). Chris Kresser has a great podcast episode summarizing some of these new Vit D guidelines that's worth a listen.
You are only as good as what you can absorb
Even if you consume a balanced Paleo diet of nutrient dense foods, we are only as good as what we absorb. Stress, sub-optimal sleep, poor digestion and inflammation can all affect the absorption of nutrients from our healthy diets. You can supplement all you like but if you don’t absorb what your taking in it’s literally like throwing money down the pipes. You can from your diet and your supplements:
Here are a few tips to ensure you’re maximizing nutrient absorption:
- Take iron supplements like Floridix or Inate Iron Response with a food-containing vitamin C. Berries, colourful peppers or cauliflower are great choices. Take away from anything containing calcium such as dairy. Calcium blocks the absorption of iron.
- Consume fat-soluble vitamins with some fat.
- Consume vitamins/minerals with food and amino acids or probiotics on an empty stomach.
- Ensure your digestion is at its best. Chew your food slowly and consider a high potency probiotic or consume grass-fed Kefir daily to help your gut flora flourish.
Try to get the bulk of your nutrients from whole food sources
- Vit A/B’s - Organ meats like grass-fed beef or lambs liver 1/ wk.
- Vit E- Organic Red Palm oil 3 times/wk.
- Choline/Vit D- Egg yolks daily
- Calcium/Vit D/omega 3- Sardines or other fatty bony fish 3/wk.
Consider supplementing wisely
- Fermented Cod Liver Oil or even better, if dairy is tollerated, Cod liver oil butter oil blend
- Vit K2
- High quality Probiotic like Inate Women's balance
- A clean, high quality prenatal vitamin with folate. Watch for “folate” or “tetrahydrofolate not “folic acid”, which is an artificial chemical that can be converted by the body to folate. Always read the labels and ensure that your vitamins are sourced from real foods and contain enzymes to aid in absorption and assimilation.
- Extra Vit B6 if you are experiencing nausea
- Floridix or Inate Iron Response anemic or at risk for anemia (carrying twins or still breastfeeding)
Have more questions…feel free to send me a question! Always happy to help you navigate your healthy Paleo Pregnancy.