Originally published May 1 2012
The best health-boosting supplements to take during pregnancy
by Willow Tohi
(NaturalNews) Pregnancy is a profound time in a woman's life. As a rite of passage, it can be a magical time or a miserable time (sometimes both), in large part based on your state of health. Either way it is emotionally and physically challenging. Knowing how to keep your health in balance can make sure that glow is from happiness and health.
Pregnancy, more than ever, is a time to go natural. It's best to get as much of your vitamins and minerals as you can from food. However it is difficult to get the RDA - recommended daily allowance - (which is a minimum!) of some vitamins and minerals from food alone. Deficiency can manifest in many ways, making it difficult for your health care provider to identify. Therefore, it is best to support your pregnancy with natural, food-based supplements.
Pregnancy supporting supplementsDuring pregnancy, a woman's intake requirement of many vitamins and minerals increases, including iron, calcium, and folic acid. That is why its best to take a good, food based prenatal vitamin. This does NOT mean one from a doctor. Prescription prenatal vitamins are made from synthetic sources. Most don't even have a label on them, so you don't know what you're getting - or not getting. They are not easily absorbed and it is easier to overdose on synthetic sources of some vitamins. For example, in a food based vitamin, you get beta carotene, which your body converts to vitamin A as needed. Vitamin A is crucial to your immune system, so you don't want to be deficient. Synthetic vitamin A, found in prescription prenatals, is animal based and it can be bad to get too much. Prenatals have the vitamins and minerals you expect in a multi-vitamin, including folic acid, but only some of the iron and calcium you need. Your body can't assimilate these together, so be sure to get the rest from your diet. Many prenatals will have extra offerings as well, such as ginger, to help with nausea.
Also crucial during pregnancy is omega 3 fatty acids, especially DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Found in every cell of our bodies, DHA is critical for brain, eye, and central nervous system development, and it increases a developing baby's cognitive functioning, resulting in higher IQ levels and longer attention spans. For mom, it reduces the risk of pre-term labor and postpartum depression.
Best herbs for pregnancyFor centuries women have used the following herbs to nourish themselves and their babies, and to ease the discomforts of pregnancy. Each contains numerous vitamins and minerals necessary to good health.
Red raspberry leaf - tones the uterus, soothes spastic muscles, and improves contractibility of the uterus during labor. It nourishes the ovaries, reduces nausea and morning sickness as well as intestinal spasms caused by excess progesterone, and increases milk production. Also used for bleeding gums, mouth ulcers, hemorrhage, hemorrhoids, and cold sores. Promotes healthy nails, bones, teeth, and skin.
Alfalfa - the "father of all foods", it promotes pituitary gland function, contains enzymes that enable food to be assimilated properly helping to normalize weight, reduces incidence of diabetes and digestive disorders, alkalizes the body, improves kidney function, reduces edema, normalizes bowel movements, improves sleep patterns, and reduces cholesterol.
Oatstraw - the premier herb for the nervous system, it nourishes the brain and endocrine system reducing anxiety, reduces leg cramps and heart palpitations, improves digestion and elimination, improves circulation to the uterus and placenta, improves bone density and tooth enamel, and offers relief from skin irritations.
Nettle - nourishes adrenals (improves energy) and immune system, helps with seasonal allergies, restores kidney function, increases resistance to illness, improves incontinence and UTIs, eliminates edema, improves liver function (jaundice), improves iron absorption (reducing anemia), stabilizes blood sugar, reduces headaches, increases milk supply, and reduces incidence of tearing and postpartum hemorrhage.
These herbs are easy to find and inexpensive. Mix together to make a wonderful tea. Take capsules or drink tea daily to nourish mom and baby, and have a healthy pregnancy.
One more honorable mention - Garlic - the best 'antibiotic' to use during pregnancy if you get sick.
Sources for this article include:
Tarr, Katherine. A Guide to Motherhood - Herbs, Helps, & Pressure Points for Pregnancy and Childbirth, p. 37-65. Winona Lake, Indiana: Wendell W. Whitman Company, 2008.
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