Pregnancy is often the first time we think about what we are putting in our bodies and how this might affect both us and our unborn child. Whilst my diet didn’t dramatically change (by and large we follow Weston A Price so I just made sure I was covering all the bases on this Diet for Pregnant and Nursing Mothers here).
The Weston A Price Foundation recommends High Vitamin Cod Liver Oil, of which I choose Rosita’s Extra Virgin Cod Liver Oil. The main reason I take this supplement is to ensure I am taking in a food-based source of vitamin A, which plays an important role in the optimal expression of genetic potential, for strong bones, healthy skin, keen eyesight, mineral metabolism, hormone production and mental development. Vitamin A plays an important part in the differentiation of primitive cells into specific organ system cells: in other words it tells the genes in the cells where to locate themselves and what kind of tissues to become.
Cod liver oil also provides vitamin D, which works hand in hand with vitamin A to ensure optimal development of the fetus. I thought it was important to take this pre-conception and through pregnancy as to ensure my body stayed as healthy and strong as possible: some mothers suffer from cavities postpartum due to deficiencies in vitamin D.
The last nutrient in cod liver oil I want to touch on is docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA for short. This is essential for brain development, and whilst there are limited studies into its effects on children when supplemented in pregnancy, it is known that: DHA is a structural constituent of membranes specifically in the central nervous system and its accumulation in the fetal brain takes place mainly during the last trimester of pregnancy and continues at very high rates up to the end of the second year of life. Studies have shown that all DHA supplemented children had a more relaxed mood compared to controls, consistent with another trial that found an apparent effect on mood, i.e., a reduction in impulsivity and antisocial behavior, in 450 healthy 8–10 year-old children supplemented with fish oil versus olive oil .
As well as cod liver oil, I also took a multivitamin and a probiotic formula designed for children. With a career in the natural products industry, I have always been particular about ingredients in supplements, food and beauty, so I knew that I wanted a food-based supplement with no fillers, binders, artificial ingredients or excipients. It was with great delight that I learnt one of my client’s was bringing the USA’s #1 supplement brand to the UK, Garden of Life. I spoke to their resident nutritionist and opted for mykind Organics Prenatal Once Daily Multivitamin and Dr Formulated Kids Probiotic. I take probiotics on and off, and having been on a break for a while I decided to introduce the kids formula to my regimen rather than a larger adult dose of probiotics.
I choose Garden of Life because of their purity. They contain only clean, organic, whole food ingredients that are traceable back to the seed, no GMOs, artificial sweeteners, flavours, colours or chemicals. They are USDA certified organic and non-GMO Project Verified. I look for food-based supplements as I am a strong believer in “let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. Our bodies were designed to derive nutrition from food so if we can take our vitamins and minerals in food state our bodies recognise the ingredients and know how to process them, and the magic of bioavailability comes into play. That is, enzymes, cofactors and other reactors are found in food which help with the absorption and assimilation of other nutrients.
I had a healthy pregnancy and delivery, and I was up and about the next day walking the dog with our new addition to the family (albeit slowly and not very far!) I put at least some of this down to my diet and nutrition, as well as staying active throughout pregnancy and making sure I was physically and mentally prepared.
Whilst I would always recommend speaking to a nutritionist before making any drastic changes to your diet or supplementation of your diet, I believe making small changes before you even start trying to conceive can help keep you and your baby healthy and happy further down the line.
 DHA Effects in Brain Development and Function Lotte Lauritzen, Paolo Brambilla, Alessandra Mazzocchi, Laurine B. S. Harsløf, Valentina Ciappolino, Carlo Agostoni; Nutrients. 2016 Jan; 8(1): 6. Published online 2016 Jan 4. doi: 10.3390/nu8010006 PMCID: PMC4728620
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Rebecca Goodyear is a multi-award winning blogger with a passion for health and wellbeing, beauty and pregnancy. She wants to empower women through their pregnancies by giving them valuable information they need to make informed choices.