The effects and impact of food is being ignored over ‘magic’ do-it-all pills… and if you’re pregnant they’re often seen as mandatory.
In 2017, we live in a ‘pop a pill’ culture. Everything can seemingly be cured, substituted and prevented with a simple tablet. When you’re pregnant this ideology is reinforced even more so.
We’re often told we absolutely must take prenatal vitamins. That they will prevent our babies being born with a variety of horrendous birth defects. Well, wow, when you put it that way, I better rush out and grab some Pregnacare right away! But let’s face it, they’re synthetic vitamins and minerals, and not to mention, rather expensive. *Sigh*
Aren’t we ignoring the obvious alternative here? (Yes I said alternative). The impact of the stuff we put in our bodies every single day perhaps? FOOD! Ground-breaking proposal, I know.
Let’s not forget that supplements are called supplements because they’re meant to supplement a good diet, not replace or correct it. Let us also not forget that women have been giving birth way before prenatal vitamins were available.
Plus, eating well is easier than popping those prenatal vitamins any day – have you seen the size of them?! They’re gigantic! I had such bad morning sickness I couldn’t even brush my teeth without gagging. Let alone swallow four of those bad boys a day!
You won’t be alone if you don’t want to be taking pills every day of your pregnancy. I did some research into the foods that can give you adequate amounts of what you and your baby need – the natural way.
Essential Vitamins and the Foods That Contain Them
Your baby needs calcium to grow strong bones. It is also needed to develop healthy muscles and a steady heartbeat. You can find it in the more obvious choices like milk, yoghurt and cheese. But did you know that kale and chia seeds also contain a considerable amount of calcium too?
Magnesium is known for its relaxing properties and works in partnership with calcium. This wonder mineral does everything from relieving cramps to regulating blood sugar. So don’t leave it out! Eat lots of cashews, dark chocolate and avocados (which are also a great source of healthy fats).
Zinc is vital for tissue and cell growth, as well as for you and your baby’s immune system. Find it in pork, beef, crab, or if you want a veggie alternative, in kidney beans and pumpkin seeds.
Many women become iron-deficient during pregnancy leading to fatigue and even postnatal depression! Get a healthy dose of iron from meals full of spinach and peas and snacks like raisins and apricots. Raw cacao powder is also a good source of iron – sounds like a great excuse for a chocolate smoothie!
Vitamin A is essential for your baby’s vision and immune system. Yet pregnant women are urged to avoid food that is very rich in Vitamin A. Liver, for example, should be avoided. Sweet potato is a great source of beta-carotene, which the body converts into Vitamin A! Handy!
A powerful antioxidant, Vitamin C helps fight infection. It also helps the body make collagen and strengthens the blood vessels of the placenta. Citrus fruits, especially oranges are well known for their high vitamin C content. Yet vegetables such as red peppers, broccoli and kale are also packed full of it too.
Folate (Vitamin B9)
This is probably one of the top buzzwords when it comes to pregnancy supplements. Folate or B9 is emphasised more than any other vitamin. Unsurprising really when Spina Bifida and other scary terms are thrown around when talking about it. Yet simply eating lentils, avocados and dark leafy greens is a good way to boost your folate levels.
But, if you do choose to supplement with it be sure to choose a multivitamin with folinic acid in it rather than folic. Folic acid is the synthetic form of B9 and a large number of women can’t convert it into something useable. Me being one of them! I was never diagnosed with severely low folic acid during my first pregnancy, but it turns out my body can’t use folic acid in the right way. No amount of prenatal folic acid pills were going to help me! I should have been eating way more folate rich foods or topping up with folinic acid.
Essential for the healthy development of your baby’s brain and eyes. DHA is found in salmon and other fatty fish like mackerel. If you’re not keen on fish then flaxseeds and walnuts are a good alternative.
One of the most important vitamins of them all, Vitamin D is vital for normal bone growth. Other than a healthy bout of sunshine, milk, sardines and egg yolks can all give you a healthy dose.
Vital for baby’s healthy brain development. Vitamin B6 also eases nausea; bring on the B6 foods please, and keep em’ comin’! Chickpeas, beans, eggs and whole-grain cereals are all good sources as well as poultry and bananas.
Crucial to the development of the nervous system. Vitamin B12 is found in everything from eggs to red meat and fatty fish. Note that most B12 is found in foods derived from animals. So if you’re vegetarian or vegan then it may be best to take a supplement in this case.
Spice It Up
Oh and also don’t be afraid to use spices when cooking. Turmeric and cinnamon have antioxidant properties, and are both powerful anti-inflammatories!
It’s almost impossible to understand why food is so easily ignored in favour of synthetic, quick and easy pills when it has so much to offer. It keeps you alive, doesn’t it? So it can absolutely give you everything you need for your growing baby! But remember; if you’re going to take prenatal vitamins then use them to supplement an already healthy diet. Not as a substitute for the real deal; FOOD!