Sunday, December 16, 2012

Vegan Pregnancy: Prenatal Vitamins

This may be a boring post if you are not a vegan or pregnant, but if it helps ONE person it will be worth it! I spent hours in the beginning of my pregnancy trying to sort through the vitamin issue and wouldn't wish it upon anyone. So here is what works for me. It has been approved by my doctor and OB/GYN but please consult with your own doctor before starting any type of prenatal vitamin routine.

* Note, I take my vitamins at night with my evening snack. For one, it's easier on my stomach, and two, it gives me the day to make healthy food choices. Then at the end of the day, I can quickly calculate what kinds of foods and nutrients I've had and decide what vitamins I might need. I take my multi and at least one calcium a day, but add or take away based on how I've eaten that day. Example: If I succumbed to junk food a little too often, I might take extra calcium since I didn't have my regular glass of non-dairy milk or cup of coconut yogurt.  I try not to take the attitude of "Oh, I have vitamins, so I should eat whatever I want instead of healthy, beneficial foods." Instead, I look at the vitamins as added extras to my healthy prenatal diet that provides most of the baby's needs on it's own.

Lets start with the basics. Before I was pregnant, I was already taking a folic acid supplement, since we were trying and it is recommended to have this vitamin in your body in the beginning stages of pregnancy. However, once I found out I was pregnant, I tried to order vegan prenatals. There are actually quite a few vegan prenatal multivitamins available...if you live in the US. I tried ordering them and got a message saying they would not ship them to me in Canada. Which is why I take so many different vitamins now. So any Canadian vegans out there, if you've figured out a way around this or I missed something...let me know!

Anyways, after figuring out that I would not be able to order a vegan prenatal multi, I did some research. I continued with my regular multivitamin. The reason why health care providers want you to switch from a regular to a prenatal is so that you are getting quantities of vitamins and supplements that are more suitable for pregnant women. One of these vitamins is vitamin A. In large quantities, the animal form of vitamin A can be harmful to a fetus. Well, I was already taking a vegan multi, so no worries there.

The vegan multi I use is Sisu Supreme Multivitamin. Sisu makes a prenatal vitamin but it contains animal sourced D3.

Next, I needed a vegan source of D3, which luckily I already knew about since I take it for my thyroid (I have an underactive thyroid). Global Trax makes a vegan D3 available in spray or capsule form. Vitamin D will also be helpful in warding off the flu this season! I plan on switching to the spray form once Baby arrives so that I can also give it to Baby.

For extra iron (more so now than in the first trimester), I take Floravit liquid supplement. It tastes like metallic prune juice but it's not too bad. I heard that liquid supplements were easier on your digestive system which is why I didn't go with a tablet. My hemoglobin levels were high at my last blood test, so this is really just a precaution. I usually only take it every other day or so, until the doctor tells me to step it up.

For calcium, I use Sisu's Maxi Cal tablet. Each tablet contains 300 mg of calcium (approx a third of your daily need, although they recommend more when pregnant). I like that I can choose how much to take in a day depending on what I've eaten that day. These are my least favourite of the vitamins, just because of the size of them.
And for proper brain development for Baby, I take a vegan DHA supplement (omega 3s). These will be especially important during the third trimester for baby's development. Again, I use my judgement on how often I take these, depending on if I've add other healthy fats like nuts that day.  
Other vitamins I take on occasion: 
A zinc tablet once a week

I have stopped taking the separate folic acid, simply because it's in my daily multi and I know that I get more than enough just from the food I eat (I average 8-12 servings of produce a day!) 

One challenge I've been dealing with is how all of these vitamins and certain foods interact with my thyroid medication. I take my thyroid pill in the morning, and am not supposed to ingest large amounts of calcium or soy or any supplement within four hours. This makes it difficult for breakfast when I want cereal with almond or soy milk. I occasionally use coconut milk since it's the only non dairy beverage I can find that is not enriched with calcium. 
Soy foods are limited to late afternoon/evening meals. 

If you have a thyroid problem and want to become pregnant, talk to your doctor. My previous family doctor did not tell me that if I wanted to start a family I should be on a higher dose of thyroid meds (which is probably why it took us upwards of a year to conceive). I've also had to up my dosage 25% as your thyroid hormone needs elevate during pregnancy. 


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Victor Smith said...

You should make sure that you digest your pregnancy prenatal vitamins. If you face trouble swallowing them, you can check out for one that has a slicker coating. Chewable prenatal vitamin pills are also available. Consumption of more vitamin pills than recommended is bad, you must always follow the dosage that your doctor recommends you. Vitamins Benefit a lot in pregnancy if taken under correct medical supervision.

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Prenatal multivitamins are easy to incorporate into your diet, knowing you are meeting all your nutritional requirements.

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