Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, prepare yourself to witness an amazing alternative to prenatal vitamins….. Drumroll please…
May I present you with:
Good, old-fashioned FOOD!
Crazy, I know, but IF you eat the right quantity of the right foods, you don’t need to waste your money on prenatal vitamins.**
Cultures around the world and through time have had sacred foods that they fed to couples trying to conceive and to pregnant and breast feeding mothers to ensure healthy pregnancies and thriving babies. In our modern western world, women are sent to the pharmacy with a prescription for a synthetic supplement that is difficult for the body to digest and absorb.
Eating Real, nutrient dense food is the best way for your body (and your baby) to get the vitamins and minerals needed for optimal health. It is best to adopt this way of eating AT LEAST three months prior to conception and to continue through pregnancy and while nursing your child. With this said, if you are already pregnant or nursing, eating right is still a must (though you will probably want to continue supplementation with high quality food-based prenatal vitamins.
The Weston A. Price foundation recommends a diet high in good quality saturated fats from pasture-raised animal sources, wild caught seafood, and other nutrient dense, properly prepared foods as follows:
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It is also recommended to consume:
Fresh beef or lamb daily, always with the fat; oily fish or lard daily, for vitamin D; 2 tablespoons coconut oil daily – used in cooking or smoothies, etc.; lacto-fermented condiments and beverages daily; soaked whole grains; fresh vegetables and fruits.
This approach may seem scary and even unsafe to many women who are accustomed to our “health by pill” culture, but consider that these Recommended Daily Allowances of nutrients are based on what is an ideal human diet. Logically, then, we should be able to get these nutrients from food. Here are the nutritional recommendations outlined by WebMD (in the first 3 columns), and the equivalent Real Food suggested servings (in the last column).
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The two main macro-nutrients missing from this table above are saturated fat and cholesterol (from animal sources) which allow for the proper absorption and assimilation of vitamins and minerals and are essential for nearly every function in the body.
If you are consuming adequate saturated fat, it is likely that you are also eating enough high quality protein (as nearly all saturated fats – with the exception of coconut and palm oils – are in meat, fish, eggs, and dairy). It is also important to note that many of the vitamins and minerals we commonly think we can get from vegetable sources (Vitamin A in carrots, zinc in grains, and fortified soy milk for vitamin D for examples) are only available in usable form from animal sources (vitamin A in liver, zinc in oysters, and vitamin D from fermented cod liver oil and pastured lard).
Also missing from this chart is Vitamin A, due to it’s alleged toxicity. According the Sally Fallon Morell, “Vitamin A is the concert master for a growing fetus.” Sounds like something worth getting right, no? So the short explanation is excess Vitamin A is only an issue with relatively insufficient Vitamin D. You can read more than you ever wanted to know about Vitamin A here.
In summary, it is completely possible to receive adequate, excellent nutrition through a nutrient-dense diet rich in saturated fat and cholesterol. If a woman is unwilling or unable to eat this way, the next best option is to take a food-based prenatal vitamin and eat a diet rich in high quality saturated fat and cholesterol. Synthetic vitamins alone are not an insurance plan for healthy conception, pregnancy, birth, or baby.
For more specific information about proper nutrition for fertility, pregnancy and nursing, I love these two informative posts by Jenny of Nourished Kitchen, which outline the essential foods for optimizing fertility, having a healthy pregnancy, growing a healthy baby: Fertility Foods and Unexplained Infertility. Kristen of Food Renegade also offers an extremely informative e-course called Beautiful Babies – not to be missed by anyone planning to conceive or already pregnant.
**Regardless of how you choose to eat or supplement, it is important to consult with a qualified health practitioner to be sure you are receiving the proper nutrition before, during, and after pregnancy.
PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. These small earnings make it possible for me to continue writing this blog for you. That said, I will never endorse any product or service that I cannot fully support.