Hopefully you’ve read part one of this series! If not, you can read it here.
To recap, prenatal health begins long before the woman is pregnant. It starts three generations back! Additionally, how the woman lived and the wellbeing (or disease) choices she made before she was pregnant matter a great deal and play a role in not only her health while pregnant but the baby in utero and earth-side as well. So, if you aren’t pregnant, this is for you just as much as it is for the expecting mama!
Real food+herbs as vitamins and minerals?
Yes! Our body would rather absorb the nutrients from real food+herbs instead of a heavily concentrated pill.
Many women experience constipation or upset stomach during pregnancy due to the concentrated minerals (iron being one) in their prenatal vitamin. This can generally be avoided when real food is used instead. (I’m about to give birth and have not experienced this common problem!)
Here a few examples of what prenatal vitamins from real food look like. Remember, these foods+herbs should ideally be part of your daily/weekly nutrition lifestyle long before you conceive.
One of my all-time favorite superfoods! I primarily use hemp hearts (seeds) but hemp protein powder is also rotated into my weekly hemp nutrition rotation. 3 Tablespoons of organic hemp hearts a day is a wonderful prenatal vitamin. Hemp is a complete protein, healthy proportions of omegas 3 & 6, contains folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, fiber, healthy fats. Hemp is also abundant in Gamma-Linolenic acid (GLA) and this helps to reduce inflammation in the body, regulate body temperature, stabilize blood pressure and balances hormones. Hemp is also great for skin health. Perhaps this is why I always receive so many compliments on my skin, pregnant or not?!
You can eat the hemp seeds raw or add to a smoothie, shake, soup, salad or sprinkle on top of whatever you are eating.
(If you’re wondering, no, hemp seeds won’t get you high or test positive on a drug test.)
3 Tablespoons of hemp seeds a day is ideal.
This is another one of my favorite superfoods. It’s hard to pick just one!
Spirulina is an algae but don’t let that scare you off. This nutrient-rich “vitamin” contains iron, vitamins B1, B2 and B3, vitamin K, is a complete protein, calcium, potassium, magnesium, GLA, omegas 3, 6 and 9. Spirulina helps the body naturally remove heavy metals (so needed in this day and age!), boost the immune system, decrease inflammation and is a powerful antioxidant.
Spirulina also contains chlorophyll which builds blood and gives energy, both of which are needed throughout pregnancy and giving birth.
I recommend using spirulina in powder or tablet form. I personally enjoy how it tastes but if you are newer to the flavor, make a smoothie and spirulina to start with.
To make sure you are getting a quality spirulina, buy this one. (This is the one I use.)
6 tablets or 1 teaspoon of powder a day is recommended.
This may be a new one for you. I actually grew up consuming blackstrap molasses. We made “molasses milkshakes”, we added a tablespoon of blackstrap to a glass of (plant-based) milk and mixed well. Me and my siblings thought they were delicious! Now years later, I’m still using blackstrap as part of my excellent nutrition lifestyle!
Blackstrap molasses is the what remains after the extraction of sugar from raw cane sugar. It’s not refined sugar but instead contains essential nutrients like iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, potassium, and selenium. Besides being a fantastic “prenatal vitamin”, it’s also great for athletes (which I can attest to)!
A few benefits of blackstrap molasses are healthy skin, aids in the stabilizing of blood sugars, helps with stress (because of the B vitamins), manages PMS symptoms, healthy bones and is anti-inflammatory.
I take a tablespoon a day. You can also add to smoothies or to a bowl of warm steel cut oats.
Make sure to buy the right kind of Blackstrap Molasses, not all created equal.
Seaweed is another real food vitamin that is often overlooked. Seaweed contains iodine (a trace mineral) which is needed for the brain development of the baby and a healthy thyroid in the mother. To make sure it doesn’t contain heavy metals, always buy organic seaweed, such as this one. Aim for 3-4 servings a week.
Who doesn’t love chocolate?! Cacao (the unprocessed version of cocoa) contains iron as well as calcium, protein, magnesium, EFAs, and thiamin, to name a few. Cacao is also a powerful antioxidant, more than 20 times of blueberries!
I make a hot cacao drink in the morning or add cacao nibs to a nut and seed mix. You may also enjoy this cacao bar.
Remember, not all chocolate is created equal so you have to make sure it is cacao. Reese’s, Hershey’s, Lindt, etc are not healthy chocolate and quite frankly, should never be consumed.
If you’ve noticed, all of these “prenatal vitamins” are real food. And that’s the point. We should always aim to get our essential nutrients from real food first and foremost. Yes, there are some vitamins and minerals that are good to supplement our lifestyle with, but in single form versus concentrated form.
The foods listed above aren’t an extensive list, there are literally hundreds of real foods we need to be eating for optimal nutrition! The ones listed above are a good place to start though and do provide our bodies with strong nutrient-dense building blocks.
In part three we’ll cover herbs as vitamins. You don’t want to miss reading this! Herbs are so amazing and not enough people incorporate them into their nutritional lifestyle.
Part four will cover what supplements are beneficial to take.
Part five...answering your questions?! I know you have them. :) Send me an email or leave a comment below with questions you have and I’ll write a Q&A.