I promised an update to the Fertile Food Thoughts post on what to eat when you are pregnant, and this is kind of a part two. Except it has started off as more of an interest in vitamins, and vitamins for pregnancy.
(By the way SIF has just written a post about getting cheaper vitamins from amazon, would you believe..)
I am very conscious about what I am eating and I’m trying to do my best to have a healthy pregnancy. I have had a bit of a back slide over Christmas due to chocolates and fizzy cooldrink, but I think it will be ok. I don’t normally eat like that. I try to have a balanced diet, but on the whole it’s nice to have some kind of back up plan, so if I’m not getting all the nutrients I need, hopefully the supplements I am taking will cover the gaps.
Since April this year I have been taking a pregnancy formula, fish oil and Vitamin C. These are the basics put forward by Dr Marilyn Glenville who spoke at 2011’s Fertility Conference (you can still get the recordings here) and the author of “Getting Pregnant Faster”.
She believes you should start eating well and supplementing at least 3 months before trying to conceive.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant which improves IVF success. And of course it boosts your immune system which prevents you from catching the normal germs passing around and getting sick. I distinctly remember her saying at the conference “You can never have enoughVitamin C”. It also helps the absorption of the other supplements you are taking.
Omega 3 fish oils control inflammation and blood flow. It is important to prevent any blood clotting disorders.
Dr Glenville also says it is important for regulating your reproductive hormones and boosting your baby’s brain, eye and central nervous system development. They help prevent low birth weight and decrease the likelihood of premature birth.
Now. The prenatal pregnancy pill. The one full of loads of stuff.
To be honest, I get this stuff from my homeopath because he writes lovely invoices with codes so that I can submit it to my medical aid and get a portion refunded. He orders it in bulk and places it in bottles without labels. So up till now I didn’t have much of clue what was in it. And I didn’t worry much about it.
Well that’s until an email landed in my inbox about the danger of having too much Vitamin A. How it can cause brain damage in your developing baby. Now unfortunately I can’t seem to find that article. It could have been any one of Gabriella Rosa, Hethir Rodrigues or Iva Keene. The guru fertility newsletters I subscribe to. I also read up in Marilyn’s book that you should take care that your fish oils are not cod liver oil capsules which have the high level of VitaminA in them which can be dangerous to your baby.
So I had a bit of a panic attack and wrote to my Dr P insisting that he transcribe everything that was in this stuff I was taking down to the last mg. And bless him, he did.
Fortunately I discovered that the form of Vitamin A in my supplement was betacarotene, which is apparently a safer form of Vitamin A anyway. And it was 7.5mg which fell within the 5-15 range Marilyn recommends in her book. (And her book is quite comprehensive).
There’s another good article by Iva Keene I subsequently read on this topic and you can read it here. (Sorry I don’t know why the link isn’t working right now) It actually praises Vitamin A and says you shouldn’t be so scared about how it has been badly labeled in the past.
I then started going through the list of all the stuff in my pregnancy formula. And proceeded to become more and more confused. The only things that were bang on with my books were the Folic Acid (400ug) (exactly right for Dr Marlyn, and “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” says between 400-600) and the calcium (400ug) (“What to Expect When You’re Expecting says 250mg, although you should ultimately be getting 1200mg altogether from other foodstuffs).
I was guessing those were the most important components.
Even the books conflicted with each other. For example for Vitamin B6 Marilyn said 20mg and What to Expect said 2mg (I have 1mg). And Vitamin B12 – Marilyn says 20ug while What to Expect says 2.6ug (I have0.5ug). (Although one is trying to conceive, the other is for pregnancy)
What’s interesting (again, according to Marilyn), is that you actually need these two Bvitamins to help with folic acid (apparently they work together). They also control an amino acid that damages the lining of blood cells and may cause miscarriage.
I phoned my mom (the doctor) who maintained that ALL I needed was the folic acid, and not to worry about the other stuff. She said that people make up these numbers without much proof, and eating healthy food was the key. I expressed my concern about the calcium (the 1200mg story) and she said I should eat more spinach. (Hence the Christmas day lesson on combining it with butternut – the only way to drown out that icky taste – I am not really a big fan of spinach). She said I should avoid milk – she said I will land up with a colicy baby if I drink too much. She said she had this problem when she ate too much cheese in her pregnancy. (My mom is busy reading a book called “The China Study” and has gone off all dairy. Although I’m not sure how true this all is.)
It is all pretty confusing, but what I do know is that I have everything I need. I’m not totally sure about the quantities, but I do have the basics covered.
Dr Marilyn Glenville’s total list:
Folic acid, zinc, selenium, Vit B6, B3,B5, B1, B12, Vit E, C, D, betacarotene, Manganese, Chromium, L-arginine, L carnitine, fish oil or liniseed oil.
What to Expect’s list:
Vit A (beta-carotene), folic acid, calcium, iron, Vit C, zinc, copper, B6, Vit D, E, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B12. Also can have magnesium, fluoride, biotin, phosphorus, pantothenic acid, ginger, DHA.
Lastly, here are What to Expect’s food groups. I think it is valuable to try and eat the real stuff rather than relying on the vitamins. Please note there are many more options in the book. I’m just writing down the ones I am more likely to eat.
- Protein (that will be meat, eggs, dairy, fish)
- Calcium (dairy, salmon, sardines, sesame seeds, cabbage, green veg, green leafy veg )
- Vitamin C (orange juice, fruit, red, yellow or orange peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, potato, tomato)
- Green leafy and yellow vegetables and yellow fruits (apricot, mango, peach, carrot, broccoli, spinach, squash, red pepper, parsley)
- Other fruit and vegetables (apple, banana, white peach, pear, mushrooms, onion, sweetcorn, peas,
- Whole Grains and Legumes (wholewheat bread, pitta, muffin, cereal, brown rice, couscous, whole grain pasta, lentils, beans, popcorn, crackers)
- Iron rich food: (beef, turkey, duck, prawns, sardines, potato with skin, oat bran, beans and peas, dried fruit)
- Fats (depending on your weight gain)(oil, margarine, mayo, cream, cream cheese, peanut or almond butter)
- Salty foods (in moderation)
- Prenatal supplements
If you need greater detail, you’ll have to get the books!