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Ever since she was a young girl, Tieraona Low Dog, MD, has been interested in the natural world and natural medicine. She has studied and practiced massage therapy, martial arts, midwifery, and herbal medicine. She is one of the leading experts in integrative medicine, particularly in the area of women’s health. This passion and expertise in female health drove her to formulate unique supplement blends for the food-based brand MegaFood, including Baby & Me 2 prenatal and postnatal multivitamins.
Here, she shares her top six must-have nutrients for pregnant and nursing women—or any woman who wants to have a baby.
1. Folic Acid vs. Folate
Folic acid is synthetic and has no biological activity until it is reduced in the body to its active 5-MTHF form. Some women (and men) have a mutation in the MTHFR gene that reduces a person’s ability to convert synthetic folic acid to its active form. That’s why it’s crucial to choose the active form of folate, which is listed as L-5-MTHF on labels. This active form of folate has no tolerable upper intake level, meaning you can safely take it, even in higher doses, without risk of an overdose or serious side effects.
Folate is essential for pregnant women because it helps prevent birth defects such as spina bifida. It also plays a key role in a baby’s healthy growth and development.
2. Choline and DHA
Choline is crucial during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. Women need 450 mg per day during pregnancy and 550 mg per day when breastfeeding. But many fail to achieve this level, getting only an estimated 225–280 mg per day.
Choline is necessary for improving visual-spatial and auditory memory, as well as providing other neurocognitive benefits. It works synergistically with DHA in promoting brain and eye health. It’s a good idea to add this combo as a complementary product during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
A woman needs more iron during pregnancy than while she is breastfeeding. Use a gentle, food-derived iron, such as MegaFood’s Blood Builder. A study conducted at the University of Maryland found that Blood Builder was effective for correcting iron deficiency in eight weeks without any adverse GI effects, including constipation and nausea—not something anyone wants during pregnancy.
You can combine Blood Builder with MegaFood’s Baby & Me 2 prenatal multi. To avoid excess iron, switch to just a postnatal multivitamin after the baby is born.
The probiotic L. Rhamnosus HN001 (6 billion CFU) has been shown to significantly reduce eczema, wheeze, and atopic sensitization in children when taken by both the mother during pregnancy and the child until 2 years old. According to the study, breastfeeding mothers should continue to supplement with the probiotic for at least 6 months postpartum.
5. Ginger and Vitamin B6
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends 250 mg of ginger four times daily as a first-line therapy for morning sickness. If this isn’t sufficient for symptom control, then 10–25 mg of vitamin B6 can be taken three to four times daily.
This plant is a nutritional powerhouse. It’s a complete plant protein with nine essential amino acids that’s also rich in vitamin C, beta carotene, and other nutrients. It’s widely used by lactation consultants for breastfeeding support.