Nutrition during pregnancy is so important for better pregnancy outcomes. Research shows that perinatal nutrient deficiencies are associated with disease states in the offspring, such as neural tube defects, anaemia and low birth weight.
It can also result in an increased risk of chronic disease later in life. While many women are taking vitamins during pregnancy, unfortunately many of the highly commercialised brands are actually low dose and poor quality vitamins. Many also lack the essential vitamins and minerals needed for a healthy pregnancy. I’ll talk about this later on.
So what nutrients should we take for better pregnancy outcomes?
It is not uncommon for pregnant woman to be deficient in nutrients including iron, calcium, iodine, Vit A and Vit D, and yet these same nutrients assist in reducing adverse pregnancy outcomes. Vit D, Vit A, calcium, iodine and selenium, for example, may reduce the risk of pre-eclampsia. Routine iron supplementation throughout pregnancy may lower the risk of C-section, blood transfusions and lead to a longer gestational period and higher postpartum haemoglobin.
Low Vitamin B12 in pregnancy has been linked to Insulin Resistance and obesity in Offspring. For women planning to become pregnant, low level Vitamin B12 intake in the first trimester of pregnancy predispose offspring to insulin resistance & obesity. In a recent study, Scientists performed studies on over 700 women during their pregnancy to evaluate dietary intake of vitamins at 18 weeks and 28 weeks of gestation.
Six hundred fifty-three offspring of these mothers were followed-up at 6 years of age with physical and biochemical measurements, body composition using X-ray absorptiometry, and insulin resistance using homeostatic models.
Insulin resistance at 6 years of age was significantly more common in the offspring of mothers who had low B12 levels at 18 weeks and high folate levels at 28 weeks of pregnancy, and was highest among those with a combination of both, the team reports.
Many health care professionals recommend the use of iron and folic acid in pregnancy but ignores vitamin B12. This needs to be reconsidered and due attention given to vitamin B12, the scientists concluded. Vitamin B12 is also needed for the uptake of folate and without it Folate is not absorbed properly.
Vitamin B12 deficiency at the time of conception could lead to undesirable changes in their offspring’s DNA and lead to further complications in their offspring’s health later in life.
Antibodies to Folate receptors can cause neural tube defects. The latest study results suggest a novel mechanism by which folic acid use protects against neural tube defects. Antibodies to folate receptor have been shown to lead to competitive binding and reduction of folate activity. 9 of 12 women with neural tube defect pregnancies exhibited anti-folate antibodies, whereas only 2 0f 20 with no neural tube defect complications had the antibodies. Supplemental folate can overcome the competition
Vitamin A is a much-needed vitamin in pregnancy and many women are avoiding it because it carries a caution if you excess 10,000 IU’s per day. All the fat-soluble vitamins have the potential for being toxic because they are stored in the body and not excreted in the urine like water soluble ones. Beta carotene is water soluble and is a very safe for of vitamin A to use during pregnancy.
Dosages of several thousand IU’s of Vitamin A have been given without producing toxicity. Dosages over 10,000 IU’s per day should not be taken by anyone who is pregnant; excess Vitamin A has been shown to cause defects, but this was only in animals. Because of this, the TGA has set a guideline for anyone who is pregnant, not to exceed 10,000 IU’s per day.
This does not mean that you avoid Vitamin A in pregnancy. It is a very essential vitamin for pregnancy and is needed for babies bone and teeth growth and is vital for babies vision. It is also vital for the health of babies immune system & the prevention of other fatal complications.
Iodine Supplementation is essential during pregnancy for healthy thyroids function. Suboptimal maternal thyroid function may affect 5% of all babies. Early hypo thyroxinemia (weeks 8-12) may potentially affect 1 in 20 newborns, with possible consequences for brain development, such as mental retardation, decreased intellectual capacity, psychomotor delay and deafness
Maternal hypo thyroxinemia can produce permanent brain lesions in the foetus. It is recommended that pregnant and lactating women receive daily iodine supplements (i.e., 150 mcg of iodine) from the onset of pregnancy or earlier. (Roman GC. Autism: transient in utero hypo thyroxinemia related to maternal flavonoid ingestion during pregnancy and to other environmental antithyroid agents Neural Sci. 2007 Nov 15; 262 (1-2): 15-26)
Healthy babies are ’thirsty’ for essential fatty acids, especially DHA and EPA. Foetuses accumulate an average of 67 mg per day of DHA. Adequate omega-3 intake in pregnant and nursing women is acknowledged for its positive role in increasing gestation and birth weight, and its effects on neonatal cognitive and visual function.
To ensure that both mother and baby receive enough of these essential fatty acids it is recommended that mothers are supplemented with a high quality omega oil. By improving the antenatal essential fatty acid status, both mother and baby will reap the rewards post-natally. My ConceptShen Omega 3 oil has the highest levels of EPA/DHA in a capsule on the market in Australia and I’ll talk about this later on.
Studies have also shown that EPA & DHA during pregnancy improves childhood cognitive function. Because of their roles as structural components in the brain and retina, it has been long suspected that EPA, DHA and AA contribute to behavioural function and the normative course of behavioural development.
Research has focused of DHA because it has been consistently been linked to behavioural and neural function. A plausible theoretical case can be made for the importance of EPA and DHA for the development of the CNS and retina during prenatal and postnatal periods.
(Carlson & Neuringer, 199;Crawford et al.,1993;Gibson, Neumann, & Makrides 1993; Morley 1998: Society in Child Development,Inc)
Low Iron during pregnancy affects infant brain function. Studies have showed that marginal iron intake by pregnant women lead to several changes in offspring: Lower brain iron levels, Reduced grip strength and cognitive function, Enhanced startled response (HPA activation). These changes were not corrected by post-natal iron supplementation of the offspring
Vitamin D defiency is now a major concern with over 50% of the population being deficient in the crucial vitamin. While the sun safe message has helped spread the word about skin cancers, people are now avoiding the sun. Sunscreen is also blocking the absorption and many people are indoors due to office jobs that see them inside from morning until night. Vitamin D is a much needed vitamin for bone health, but it is also needed for a healthy immune system, healthy moods and deficiency during pregnancy has now even been linked to autism.
A good multivitamin that contains all the essential vitamins and antioxidants is the easiest way to get your optimum intake, along side a great diet. Comprehensive studies have shown that Multivitamin use reduces birth defects. Use of multivitamins from 3 months prior to pregnancy through to the end of the first Trimester were associated with a 70% reduction in the risk of multiple birth defects in a western metropolitan population. (N England Journal of Medicine. 2004 Jan8; 350 (2):134-42)
We also know that demands for nutrients in pregnancy may be greater than expected. Several interventional studies have suggested that diets low in essential micronutrients can pose a significant reproductive risk. Apart from deficient intake, foetal deficiency can be caused by genetic polymorphisms, maternal illness, toxic insult, physiological and psychological stressors. These deficiencies may be significant contributors to the occurrence of birth defects
(Keen CL,et al. The plausibility of micronutrient deficiencies being a significant contributing factor to the occurrence of pregnancy complications. J Nutrition 2003; 133:15975-16055)
Are you taking an inferior pregnancy multivitamin?
Are you aware that many of the recommended multivitamins during pregnancy contain really low doses of vitamins and are inferior to practitioner only ones?
Many of the leading brands retail for anywhere between $40 – $70 and don’t have adequate levels of vitamins and minerals needed for pregnancy. Basically you are paying through the nose for advertising campaigns and could be putting you health at risk. Yes, that well known one recommended by your doctor is poor quality and one of the lowest dose vitamins on the market, and worst still, it is expensive.
The ConceptShen Nutritional Medicine multivitamin and Omega 3 oils that I use, are practitioner prescribed only vitamins and omega 3 oils and the multivitamin is up to 50 times more potent than the so-called leading marketed brands, plus it also contains extra vitamins and nutrients not found in the leading brands. It is also half the price. The Omega 3 oils is up to 5 times more potent than many leading brands and is sourced from wild caught anchovies and sardines, which have the highest omega 3 content.
It is also molecularly distilled and free from heavy metals, unlike many of the leading brands on the market that are caught from farm sourced fish that are fed antibiotics and GMO foods. Just because you doctor recommended it, doesn’t mean they know what is in it and it definitely doesn’t mean it is a good multi or omega. To be honest many GP’s and specialist have very little knowledge of vitamins and nutrition and just on what is marketed to them, without checking the labels and potency of what they are prescribing.
So if you do want to good multivitamin during pregnancy, you can call my clinic and we can give you a great one that is cheaper, has more vitamins and nutrients in it, and it is free from all the nasty additives and fillers that the leading brands use.
We can also put you in contact with practitioners that carry my range of vitamins and omegas, as well as other high quality practitioner prescribed supplements. Our ConceptShen Multivitamin contains therapeutic levels of these vitamins and minerals to ensure that both mother and baby are supported during this period of growth and development.