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. 

What does a pregnant vegan eat?

 Whatever she wants!

I'm in a pretty good place right now, as far as life balancing goes. Between work, appointments, friends, family and the approaching holidays, I am still managing to get some me time and some cooking done! I think my nesting phase is starting slowly but surely (organizing cupboards and closets).

Vegetable Lasagna- Quick and Easy Vegan Comfort Foods

This lasagna is layers of noodles, sauce, tofu ricotta, spinach, zucchini, carrots and cheese. I also threw in Yves ground round to the sauce for Billy. It was delicious! I had mine with a side of lemon garlic kale. Billy did not...more for me and the baby!

 Chocolate Candy Cane Ice Cream- A Vegan Ice Cream Paradise

 The flavour of this ice cream (recipe here) was great. I loved the little chunks of candy cane. The texture was not my favourite. I think it was my error and not the recipe's because I've made similar recipe's before without the problem. It was just too soft, and even after days in the freezer it was melting within seconds of being served. However, it was still a nice holiday flavoured treat!

Split Pea Soup-The Vegan Table

I liked this soup. Very comforting. Nothing spectacular in terms of split pea soup but delicious and filling. I liked that there is no sauteeing of the veggies first. You just throw all the ingredients in the pot and simmer, which makes it a great soup to make in the slow cooker as well. I'll be making a few batches in my slow cooker to freeze before Baby arrives.

I served the soup with homemade French bread using this recipe. The dough mixed and rose in my breadmaker and then all I had to do was roll it out, let it rise again and bake. There is nothing better than fresh baked bread!!  I'd also like to make a few of these and freeze them.

Santa's Favourite Christmas Bread- La Dolce Vegan

And for my weekend baking, I made this delicious loaf. It's like banana bread but also has walnuts, coconut, oranges and chocolate chips. It also called for dried cherries but I didn't see any at the store and didn't want to make a separate trip to Bulk Barn. This is excellent as my afternoon snack with a cup of (decaf) coffee.

I've made a meal plan for the upcoming week but with the holidays around the bend we shall see if I get around to posting!

Sunday, December 02, 2012


This time there's a good reason that I haven't posted in so long...first trimester fatigue!

Billy and I are expecting our first child in late April. We are over the moon and anxiously preparing for the arrival of little Baby Vegan. I have been cooking as much as possible but not taking pictures. Some days its all I can do to throw together something semi-healthy for me and my passenger. Now that I'm into the second trimester my energy levels are much improved, so hopefully I'll be updating with some yummy food soon.

Last night, I made a delicious veggie lasagna from Quick and Easy Vegan Comfort Food, and tonight I made a simple black bean soup from the same book.

I hope to feature some posts about my vegan pregnancy in the coming months, but be patient with's the holiday season after all :) I'll start by saying that my doctor knows I'm a vegan and has no issue whatsoever with it, especially when she saw my higher-than-average iron levels! So any concerned family members out there...I got this. I'm a smart cookie and would not do anything to harm this precious gift that we have been waiting for for so long.

Lots of love!!