Hi and welcome back!
I hope that everyone is having a great week. Yesterday I had the pleasure of enjoying dinner with some friends, and as our conversation progressed we quickly got on the topic of babies. Most of my friends are married now and starting to plan their families, so I’m no stranger to baby chatter and the excitement and concern that seem to go hand in hand. Being in the nutrition business my friend asked me a question: “Kevin,” she said, “I was told that I should start taking prenatal vitamins for two years prior to getting pregnant. Is this true?”
My initial reaction was one of surprise, I immediately thought of several babies I knew personally whose mothers had not been taking prenatal vitamins two years prior to conception, or even two months after conception for that matter, and those babies turned out alright. But more importantly, I honestly did not know the answer.
I’d like to first point out that when seeking opinions about your health, you must first have a good grasp on your own health. Where are you? How healthy are you? And how do you take control of your health? Everyone is in a different place and naturally, a woman planning a pregnancy should consult her Doctor and before taking any products.
But for my friend, and everyone else who may be planning on having a baby or is just curious, here is what I found out:
Two years is a bit of an overstatement. Naturally, if there is a nutrition deficiency affecting a woman, that deficiency needs to be addressed by a doctor. For example, in cases where women are severely deprived of basic nutrients due to illness, diet, eating disorders and other environmental factors, those depleted nutrients need to be replenished to not only bring the expecting mother back to good health, but also bring her body to a place where it can support the life of another.
For planning mothers who take care of themselves and their bodies, including prenatal vitamins in their diets should start approximately six to nine months before conception. This statement was agreed upon by all of my research outlets.
So now the question to answer is why.
Pregnancy is a very exciting and important time, and maintaining optimal health throughout this time is critical. For over thirty years, physicians have recommended prenatal vitamins and minerals as part of routine prenatal care, and the reasoning behind that is simple: Even with a close to perfect diet, it is still difficult for pregnant women to get all the nutrients they need to maintain optimal health. Prenatal supplementation is essential in the development of the fetus and the health of the mother.
During pregnancy, a woman’s daily intake requirements for certain nutrients, such as folic acid and omega 3’s are vital for proper fetal growth, development, and healthy adult living. In addition, providing the body with ample omega-3’s promotes early brain development in the baby and prevents postpartum depression in mothers.
Here’s a fact about Folic Acid:
Taking a prenatal vitamin is the ONLY way to make sure you’re getting the amount of folic acid you need each day. All medical authorities recommend a daily dose of 400 micrograms (mcg) starting at least a month before you begin trying to get pregnant and at least 600 mcg a day once you know you’re pregnant. It is harder for your body to absorb folic acid from food than it is to absorb the folic acid found in prenatal vitamins. Research has shown that taking a prenatal vitamin with folic acid can reduce the risk of neural tube defects in your baby by up to 70% (1)
Now Here’s something you may not have known:
Birth control pills deplete folic acid in the body. Many women use birth control pills as a form of contraception. Some women take birth control pills for years before trying to get pregnant. Therefore, the prenatal vitamins must be in place to replenish that depleted folic acid. Having good levels of folic acid in your body will increase your chances of having a healthy pregnancy.
Here’s another big one:
Co Enzyme Q 10. Without this, your body cannot survive. Pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy) is a serious complication of pregnancy that occurs in 16% of pregnancies (2). When the condition is detected, the only treatment is delivery. Sometimes this results in premature birth and its associated complications for the newborn child. In severe cases Pre-eclampsia can cause maternal death. Including Co-Enzyme Q 10 in a dietary supplement can prevent pre-eclampsia and the associated hardships.
Let’s talk about Balance and your future baby:
Mental health and heart health in both mother and child are dependant upon the correct balance of omega 3 to omega 6. During pregnancy, it is critical to supplement with high quality omega 3 oils enriched with a 3:2 ratio of EPA to DHA. Studies show that infants born to mothers with higher blood levels of DHA have advanced attention spans well into their second year of life. During the first six months of life, these same babies had attention spans that were two months ahead developmentally of those babies whose mothers had lower DHA levels (3). DHA supplementation has also been suggested to decrease the incidence of postpartum depression (4).
So before getting pregnant, how many women have thought about their digestive health?
Nothing is more important to digestive health than fiber. Soluble fiber will cleanse toxins from the digestive system and in doing so allow valuable nutrients to become bioavailable. Adding a soluble fiber to a prenatal plan is essential for controlling unhealthy weight gain, preventing uncomfortable and even painful constipation associated with pregnancy, and encouraging the growth of probiotics (friendly bacteria in the intestinal tract). Healthy Intestinal tracts reduce the incidence of gestational diabetes from 34% to 13% (5).
What about minerals?
Magnesium and vitamin D3 combine and to control hundreds of enzymatic reactions in the body that produce, transport and store cellular energy. It is impossible to survive without magnesium because of its importance in cellular communication and cellular division. This is true for mother and child.
And finally let’s look at the health of you, future Mom:
Olivamine10 contains hydroxytyrosol that has been scientifically proven to repair cells and enable them to live 20% longer in a disease free state (6). Hydroxytyrosol is the most powerful antioxidant available and is crucial to a successful pregnancy. Studies have shown that a diet rich in antioxidants can prevent obesity and glucose intolerance in children (7). Furthermore, including Olivamine10 in a prenatal plan will allow the mother’s cells to rest and revitalize and properly control and heal damage caused by oxidative stress. This will in turn allow all of the prenatal vitamins and their components to work properly and better.
And what are all these numbers and words?
1. DeVoir, G. (2010) Are You Using the Best Prenatal Vitamin for you and your baby? PrenatalVitamins.org. Ed. Dr. Greggory DeVoir. 2010 http://PrenatalVitamins.org/
2. Teran, E. (2009). Coenzyme Q10 supplementation during pregnancy reduces the risk of pre-eclampsia. Int J Gynaecol Obstet, 105(1), 43-5.
3. Columbo, J; et al (2004) Maternal DHA and the Development of Attention in Infancy and Toddlerhood. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2004.00737.x
4. Leung, BM. (2009). Perinatal depression: prevalence, risks, and the nutrition link–a review of the literature. J Am Diet Assoc, (9), 1566-75.
5. Yeganegi, M. (2009). Effect of Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 supernatant and fetal sex on lipopolysaccharide-induced cytokine and prostaglandin-regulating enzymes in human placental trophoblast cells: implications for treatment of bacterial vaginosis and prevention of preterm labor. Am J Obstet Gynecol, 200(5), 532.
6. Sarsour, E; et al. (2011). MnSOD activity regulates hydroxytyrosol-induced extension of chronological lifespan. AGE DOI 10.1007/s11357-011-9223-7
7. Simmons, R. Antioxidants during pregnancy affect child. United Press International. Ed. N/A 2011. UPI.com 18 Mar 2011. http://www.upi.com/Health_News/2011/03/18/Antioxidants-during-pregnancy-affect-child/UPI-99751300500309/
That’s just the research articles and respected health and nutrition journals I’ve taken my information from today. Education and knowledge is as much a part of health as diet, supplementation, exercise and happiness.
So for my friend, and for everyone, I hope this information helps you on your journey.