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Thursday, August 7, 2008

Guest Post: Susanna Tocco on Prenatal Nutrition

Getting Ready to Make a Baby...or You just found out you are Preggers...

by Susanna Tocco

I'm not trying to play doctor here, but over the years of working in a nutrition dept of a health food store and being here on cafemom, i have noticed many moms don't know where to start nutritionally. Hope I can help.

Here's my list of recommendations to talk about w/ your doctor or mid-wife. as we all know, natural is usually best, but it doesn't always mean safe. some people might be allergic to an ingredient in a product i've suggested. so always read everything before you take it and talk to your doctor/mid-wife before beginning anything, even something natural.

1. A good prenatal vitamin will supply you with the vitamins and mineral you'll need. This does not mean you can eat junk food, you still need to eat a healthy diet. Vitamins are supplements and only used to supplement your daily intake, not replace it. My suggestions are limited because in my experience whole food vitamins are the only ones anyone should be taking. They are safe enough to take on an empty tummy and generally don't cause problems for mom's experiencing high levels of morning sickness.

Many of them are made with certified organic ingredients. Prenatals should be taken when you are trying to conceive (before you get preggers) to insure you have the proper vitamins in your system right at the time of conception. Studies show that the need for higher amounts of vitamin b's (found in prenatals) are most necessary in the first 6 weeks of fetal development. Most mamas don't even know they are preggers that early and miss taking a prenatal at this early of the game. So if you are lucky enough to be planning the conception, start the prenatal now!

*Company's who make them in order from what I believe are best to good:

New Chapter (true whole food made with organic ingredients)

Pure Essence Labs (Food based)

Nature's Plus SOURCE OF LIFE (whole food concentrate)

Rainbow Light (food based)

2.Another supplement you should start before conception, if possible, are EFA's (essential fatty acids) these are your Omega's, EPA, and DHA. Most commonly found in fish oils (dha & epa) but you can get omega's from flax oil, primrose, borage, pumpkin seed and chia seeds. Omegas are important because they help lubricate joints, good for mood support/brain function, great for hair skin nails, healthful for heart health, and a good hormone balance. DHA is essentialin fetal brain development and for a new born, up to age 2. "DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid) is a polyunsaturated fatty acid, and is an essential building block of brain and nerve tissue. DHA cannot be synthesized by the body, and therefore must be obtained by a diet high is deep-sea cold water fish.

DHA, which constitutes approximately 40% of the brain, supports brain development during the last trimester of pregnancy when the unborn child's demand for neurological growth increases greatly. If added to the mother's diet, it can help prevent the depletion of the mother's store of DHA and support the developing baby's essential fatty acid needs. Currently, the proposed Adequate Intake of DHA for pregnant and lactating women is 300 mg per day. (ISSFAL)*

The omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, play important structural roles as components of cellular membranes. Ongoing clinical studies support the role of EPA and omega-3 fatty acids in health and disease.

Clinical investigations are continually carried out on the importance of DHA and omega-3 fatty acids in health and disease.

*International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids."

*Companies who make them that I like (no particular order this time):

Prenatal DHA by Nordic Naturals

Preg-Natal by Jarrow

Healthy Mom by Barleens

3. Pregnancy Tea by Traditional Medicinals or Yogi Tea. These teas support the uterus. Best to use during pregnancy. Using the tea after delivery, helps the uterus contract back to normal and keeps it toned. This is also part of your water intake you'll need. Ugh, I hated all the water I had to drink. Adding some lemon to the tea is tasty, and gives you a little vit c.

4. Protein. You'll be told to eat a lot of it. Remember Protein doesn't have to be from animals. "What is the difference between animal and plant protein?

Animal foods such as meat, dairy, eggs, poultry, and fish are complete proteins because they contain sufficient levels of all essential amino acids.

Plant proteins come from foods such as beans, nuts, peas and soy products. Milk products and eggs are good sources for lacto-ovo vegetarians.

What is a complementary protein?

Plant proteins tend to be limited in one or more essential amino acids. For example, beans are low in the amino acid lysine, while rice is rich in lysine.

When the amino acids from two or more foods together make up a complete protein with sufficient levels of all the essential amino acids, these food pairings are called "complementary proteins".

Examples include grains and legumes or legumes and seeds and nuts.

People following a vegetarian diet must eat protein foods that have complementary proteins so that the essential amino acids missing from one protein food can be supplied by another.

What are some examples of complementary proteins?

  • Beans and tortillas
  • Peanut butter sandwich
  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Tofu with rice
  • Hummus with pita bread
  • Chickpeas and rice

    Do people following a vegetarian diet need to eat complementary proteins at every meal?

    It was once believed that complementary proteins had to be consumed at every meal. We now know that intentional combining at each meal isn't necessary.

  • As long as you eat a variety of plant foods, such as brown rice, corn, nuts, seeds, whole grains and wheat within each 24 hour period, your protein needs should easily be met."

    5. if you experience constipation, you can add more magnesium to your diet. some good ones on the market are Mama Calm by natural vitality and Ionic Fizz by Pure Essence Labs

    6. The Last 6 weeks of your term:Check out Dr. Christopher's Pre-natal. It is used only during the last 6 weeks of pregnancy and it's traditionally used to help prepare the uterus and vagina for delivery.

  • After Baby is Born:

    Stay on that prenatal or switch to the Post Natal by Pure Essence Labs

    Stay on those EFA's especially if you are breastfeeding, because that growing brain of baby's still needs all the help it can get. Up to hte age of 2 at the least.

    Keep up with the water intake. You need it to produce milk.

    Other helpful nutrients we need help getting because of lack of healthful diets:

    Digestive Enzymes:if you eat a lot of cooked foods then the natural enzymes of those foods are killed during the cooking process. Enzymes are needed to digest foods. There are two ways to get enzymes: Fresh, uncooked food, or if it's been cooked then our body supplies the enzymes. Well, this takes away from our reserve of enzymes needed for energy. Help your body by supplementing w/ Digestive Enzymes. My favs: Renew Life, Mega Foods, Enzymatica, Garden of Life and Jarrow

    Acidophilus:these are the friendly bacteria found in our gut. They are the platform for proper immune health and digestion. They play a huge role in our bodies. Small amounts can be found in yogurt, but not enough to support our crazy lifestyles. My fav brands: Renew Life, New Chapter, Mega Foods, and Garden of Life.

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    the guerilla project said...

    my wife ate chia seeds during her entire pregnancy and is still eating extra now since she is breast feeding. our doctor highly recommended chia seeds as her main source of omega-3 because it has the highest concentration and you don't have to worry about any of the risks involved with the mercury found in fish. it is also an excellent source of fiber which i hear is very essential too during pregnancy:) our doctor turned us on to the website www.thechiaseed.com because that is where she buys her seeds and they've been great. my wife and i love the blog by the way!

    Anonymous said...

    Yes, Chia seeds do have high levels of Omega's.
    However, they lack DHA, which is found in highest concentrations in Fish oils. DHA is so very important during fetal development and also while baby is growing into a toddler.
    Reputable companies (such as the ones I listed in my article) testing stringently for mercury. You should not have to worry about mercury poisoning from companies who test their products.
    For vegetarians or people who still want to avoid fish products. You can get DHA from marine algae proucts by companies like: Spectrum Prenal DHA. You can also google "vegetarian DHA" to find more companies.

    Ashley said...

    Thank you so much for your comment - and for visiting, too! I hope you come back!