Building Baby’s Body & Brain: Your Strategy For Supplements And Toxin-Free Food

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There’s no shortage of milk toast articles on the internet with generic admonitions to eat a healthy diet for a healthy pregnancy. Buckle in, you won’t find any sugar-coated fudging in this post. It’s not enough to just cover the nuts and bolts of what nutrients and how many servings you need. This article ventures deep into the weeds to discuss toxins–where they come from, how you avoid them, and how your body gets rid of them.

When it comes to discussing the topic of food safety and health risk, there are usually strong feelings on both sides of every issue. But, when it comes to the topic of toxins in food, every pregnant mom deserves to be able to decide for herself what is an acceptable level of risk.

We’ve all heard vague rumblings about this or that being bad for you. We want to bring these risks into focus and give you actionable strategies to reduce your risk. The truth is that some of this is scary stuff. Knowing that your child’s future neurodevelopment hangs on simple day-to-day food choices is daunting to think about. This article will give you practical information about toxins in your foods and environment, and what nutrients your body needs to detoxify them.

As always, you’ll be connected with Fullscript, your safest source for supplements always at 20% off. With this knowledge, mothers are empowered to optimize their dietary and environmental choices, avoid the risk of neurodevelopmental disorders and foster healthier physical and mental health outcomes for their children.

Why It Pays To Eat Better During Pregnancy

Many expecting moms have the impression that nutrition in pregnancy is just about taking a prenatal vitamin. After all, when you have your first prenatal visit, you receive a generic handout telling you to drink some milk, eat some fruits and vegetables, and take a prenatal vitamin. That’s about it for most prenatal clinics. The lack of time devoted to the topic would give any pregnant woman the impression that it doesn’t matter much. Busy obstetric providers are so engrossed in addressing complex medical issues that they may overlook the foundational role of nutrition and toxin exposure in pregnancy.

But low tech is powerful. The simple act of eating healthy, toxin-free foods chosen in the right proportions carries profound significance. This should be shouted from the rooftops.

Emerging research is scary–toxins in the cord blood of newborns. Studies suggest a connection between maternal nutrition, toxin intake, and the risk of neurological disorders such as autism and ADHD in children. Good nutrition and avoidance of toxins not only support the tremendous physical changes and rapid fetal growth during pregnancy, but they also influence the long-term neurological health of your child.

The Five Pillars Of Health

A new paradigm for health care has emerged based on the five pillars of health at the heart of the functional medicine movement. Each and every one of these affects the epigenetic marks created in your developing child’s DNA during pregnancy. For more on the profound implications of epigenetics, read our article here.

  • Food: First, optimal nutrition is essential, emphasizing a balanced, nutrient-dense diet that fuels the body and supports cellular health while keeping toxins out. During pregnancy, certain produce must be organic. Bread and pasta products need to be organic so that you can avoid glyphosate herbicide that has been linked to neurotoxicity. [PMC9101768]
  • Physical Activity: Second, regular physical activity plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy body, strengthening the immune system, and promoting mental well-being.
  • Sleep: The third pillar, adequate sleep, allows the body to rest, rejuvenate, and repair.
  • Stress Management: Fourth, stress management techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, and yoga are encouraged to maintain emotional and mental balance. These practices are proven to reduce cortisol levels that signal to your baby that you are living in a stressful world. [PMID: 28757456]
  • Social and Spiritual Health: The final pillar is healthy relationships and social connections, acknowledging the profound effects of social and emotional well-being on overall health.

These pillars form the interconnected foundation of functional medicine’s holistic approach to health and wellness. Along with great sleep, physical activity, and keeping stress low, your overall food intake will nourish you and your baby in ways that no supplement ever can. See a Registered Dietitian to discuss the details and how they apply to your life.

Start With Great Food–And, It’s Not All Great Food

We don’t hear much about our water and food supply being full of chemicals of all kinds. It would be natural to assume that there is nothing to worry about, but that might be a problem. Estrogen from birth control pills is excreted through urine and enters the water supply in cities. Forever chemicals never break down and they are found everywhere in our environment. These chemicals are causing changes in the genitalia of amphibians and reptiles.

When an effective dose is possibly as little as 2 drops in an Olympic size swimming pool, many scientists are worried. Forever chemicals are found in a range of everyday products from non-stick pans to water-resistant clothing and grease-resistant food packaging like popcorn bags and pizza boxes.

They easily enter our bodies and have been detected even in the womb, crossing the placental barrier to reach the developing child. Xenoestrogens like BPA, chemicals that mimic our own hormones can disrupt hormonal balance at critical periods during the development of the baby’s sex organs and brain. The presence of these compounds in cord blood makes scientists wonder if these chemicals are responsible for the skyrocketing rates of everything from autoimmunity to gender dysphoria. The extreme sensitivity of babies at various stages in utero makes the efforts to reduce our exposure all the more critical. A fascinating book on this topic was written on this topic by Dr. Shanna Swan, entitled Count Down, which is available through this affiliate link on Amazon.


Priority: Stop Taking In Toxins


Choose Organic Foods

Studies show lower rates of infertility, birth defects, allergic sensitization, ear infections, and metabolic syndrome in those with habits of long-term organic food choices. [PMC7019963]

The nutrient content of produce can vary depending on the farming methods used and yearly conditions. But analyses of various studies have consistently shown that organically grown foods generally contain higher levels of vitamin C, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus compared to their non-organic counterparts. Not only are these foods richer in essential nutrients, but they also contain fewer pesticide residues.

Organic foods are also noted for having higher concentrations of key antioxidant phytochemicals such as anthocyanins, flavonoids, and carotenoids. Laboratory studies have consistently shown that organic fruits and vegetables have enhanced antioxidant activity and are more effective at blocking the mutation-causing properties of toxic compounds. Furthermore, some health advantages have been linked to consuming organic dairy products, such as a reduction in allergic dermatitis symptoms. [PMID: 20359265]

Follow The Dirty Dozen And The Clean 15

Some foods should only be bought in their organic form, like bread. Produce is more variable in its chemical content so buying organic matters more with some types of produce than others. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has studied this question for many years and has created their trademarked “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” lists to help us keep things straight. Visit the Environmental Work Group at EWG.org to learn about their wide-ranging work. The buttons that follow allow you to visit their dirty dozen and clean fifteen lists directly and sign up for their newsletters so that you can get ongoing help in clearing toxins from your life.

Soap, Body Lotion, Shampoo: Toxins Everywhere

Use the EWG’s Skin Deep Product Lookup. The Think Dirty App is a useful app for your phone that allows you to look up products by their barcodes for convenience. However, it’s important to recognize the potential for bias in this app, which has been criticized for creating partnerships with brands.

Non-Stick Pans: What’s Really In That Coating?

Ceramic Cookware is safer.

“Teflon” and non-stick pans were historically made with perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a “forever chemical” linked to various health problems. The problem is that these chemicals stay in the body for a long time.

Industry claims they have changed the chemicals, but the problem is we have less data on the safety of the new chemicals than we did on the old ones. There is no requirement for long-term safety testing prior to bringing these to market. This leaves the concern that new chemical coatings might be more toxic than the ones they replace. So, Despite recent production changes, health concerns persist around non-stick cookware.

There is also concern that non-stick coated pans can release toxic fumes when heated. Alternatives like stainless steel, cast iron, and ceramic cookware offer a safer option.

Household Cleaners: Another Source of Toxins

When you smell a fragrance, think of phthalates! Fragranced household cleaners commonly contain phthalates, known endocrine disruptors that can interfere with hormonal systems. Triclosan is an antimicrobial agent present in many antibacterial products. It can disrupt hormone function and contribute to antibiotic resistance. Manufacturers use alkylphenol ethoxylates (APEs) in laundry detergents and all-purpose cleaners, and these nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs) can interfere with hormones and are linked to various health issues.

Polishing agents for bathroom fixtures, sinks, and jewelry often contain ammonia, which can trigger respiratory issues and skin irritation. Chlorine bleach, a potent disinfectant, and whitener, may harm the lungs and skin and can create dangerous gases when mixed with ammonia. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) also exist in a wide array of cleaning products and can trigger a range of health problems from headaches to liver and kidney damage.

It’s time to check under the sink and decide what to keep and what to toss. Once again, the Environmental Work Group has put together a tremendous set of resources for looking up product safety. Check it out:

Non-toxic alternatives for household cleaning are a smart and sustainable choice. For example, a simple mix of vinegar and water can make an excellent all-purpose cleaner for countertops and windows. Baking soda serves as a powerful scrubbing agent for tough stains and can also freshen up carpets and rugs when sprinkled on, left for a few minutes, and then vacuumed up. Hydrogen peroxide can replace bleach for whitening and disinfection. Essential oils, like tea tree, lemon, and lavender, can add natural fragrance to homemade cleaners while also offering antimicrobial properties. Castile soap is a versatile, vegetable-based product that can be used for a range of cleaning tasks, from washing dishes to mopping floors.

How Pure is Your Water?

After lead from the water supply poisoned thousands of children in Flint Michigan, many people woke up to the fact that there are plenty of places where the water is unsafe. This issue is especially common in older cities with outdated plumbing systems. And it’s far more than just lead content. The second major concern is runoff from agricultural activities that introduce pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers into the water sources. Atrazine is a common agricultural herbicide that is detected in water supplies due to runoff from farming activities. Studies have linked exposure to atrazine to preterm birth or low birth weight. Then, there are industrial pollutants and microplastics that find their way into the water supply.

These issues are widespread, so it pays to check on whether your water is safe. If you have your own well, you will want to think about the agricultural runoff. If you have city water, you’ll be able to look up your water quality by zip code. Once again, EWG has provided the resource:

If you find your water is not pure, a Guide To Water Filters is available on EWG.org as well. Whatever filtration system you choose, you make sure it is certified by the Water Quality Association or NSF.

Consider The Possibility of Lead In Paint And Ceramics

Lead has been found in the cord blood of newborns. [PMID: 36684497] There are a lot of ways that a person can be exposed to lead aside from lead pipes causing water contamination. For example, if you live in a home that was built before 1978, there’s a high likelihood that it was painted with lead-based paints. Think about whether you have ever refinished old painted furniture that may have been painted with lead paints. Have you ever been involved in soldering with lead, such as in stained glass, or plumbing?

Crops can be contaminated with lead if they are grown in contaminated soil. Lead particles from leaded gasoline or paint can settle in the soil and remain there for years. Root vegetables like carrots, potatoes, and radishes, as well as leafy green vegetables, are especially prone to lead contamination. Therefore, washing vegetables thoroughly and peeling root vegetables can help reduce lead exposure.

It’s important to test any imported goods that might contain lead. These include toys, jewelry, cosmetics such as lipstick, and ceramics. The glazes used on some of these items may contain lead. Also, some imported spices and foods have been detected to contain high levels of lead, and certain traditional remedies and cosmetics may also contain this harmful element.

Lead Testing

Lead tests check for harmful lead in your home. This is important in older homes with older homes built before 1978 when lead paint was finally banned. Lead is also present in some ceramic glazes, so don’t assume that the beautiful handmade ceramic coffee mug is safe. If someone got the glazes mixed up, it can contain significant amounts of lead.

Specialized Testing For Nutrient Status, Oxidative Stress, Omega-3 Status, Heavy Metals, Mitochondrial Function and Methylation

Knowing your methylation status could be very valuable. If you found that you are over-methylated or under-methylated, you could easily correct it with a supplement. And that might affect your child’s risk for ADHD *. Read more about methylation here.

Likewise, if you found heavy metal, you could then seek out specialized treatment. And nutrient levels are easy to fix–but only if you know what’s missing. The NutrEval provides insight into each of these critical areas. The Report is comprehensive.

Insurance companies generally don’t cover the cost of specialized testing so you will not usually hear them mentioned by your doctor. And, while these tests are not cheap, they are easily available here.


Specialized Testing For Nutrient Status, Heavy Metals, and Methylation

Insurance companies don’t cover the cost of specialized testing for nutrients, heavy metals, or methylation. And these tests are not cheap, so you will not usually hear about the testing that is available from your physician. Yet, knowing your methylation status could be very valuable if you found there was a problem there that could be so easily corrected with a supplement and could potentially affect your child’s risk for ADHD. Read about methylation here. Likewise, if you found heavy metal, you could then seek out specialized treatment. And nutrient levels are easy to fix–but only if you know what’s missing. The NutrEval provides insight into each of these critical areas.


Priority: Get The Toxins Out: Nutrients Required For Detoxification


Detox is poo-hoo’d by many, even those in health-care. It has this bad name because of the many charlatans selling diarrhea-inducing high-priced supplements that don’t address anything to do with toxins. Here’s the real story, and it is eye-opening. There’s a lot going on in the image below, but here’s what you want to know.

Liver Detox Pathways
  • Your liver begins detoxifying by first turning toxins into substances that are even more toxic. Once Phase 1 is complete, there’s a possibility that Phase 2 detoxifications move more slowly than Phase 1, allowing toxic intermediary compounds to build up.
  • Your liver won’t detoxify anything unless you feed it the right nutrients.
    • Phase 1 liver detoxification will not work adequately without Vitamin B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B6, Folic acid, and B12, glutathione, and those colorful substances in fruits and vegetables known as flavinoids.
    • Phase 2 liver detoxification requires magnesium, cysteine, glycine, taurine, glutamine, choline and glutathione. And it requires Vitamin B5, Folic Acid, and B12.
  • The “Standard American Diet” does not provide adequate nutrients to carry out detoxification processes.
    • Fiber: There is not enough fiber to bind bile acids and toxins to take it out of the body through the digestive tract.
    • Water: There’s not enough water to make optimal quantities of urine needed excrete waste compounds.
    • B Vitamins: The B vitamins required for these reactions are used up by stress, alcohol consumption, a high-sugar diet, pregnancy and lactation, certain medications, age, physical activity, and smoking.
    • Magnesium: More than half the population is failing to get adequate magnesium to support Phase 2 Detoxification.
    • Weed Killer: Glyphosate slows down Phase 1 detoxification by inhibiting the cytochrome P450 enzymes. Non-organic wheat, soy, and produce are covered with glyphosate. Researchers say: “Glyphosate’s inhibition of cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes is an overlooked component of its toxicity”. Bread is specifically high in glyphosate due to farmers spraying glyphosate directly on wheat to dry it out days before harvest.

So when you boil all this down to practicalities, you are left with this takeaway: You need plenty of nutrients to metabolize all the toxins you take in. This doesn’t leave much room for sugar and other low nutrient-density foods if you want optimal functioning of these detoxification systems.


Food Comes First

Consult a Registered Dietitian for help with your specific needs and circumstances to develop a personalized nutritional plan during pregnancy.

Food GroupTypical Recommended Servings During PregnancyServing SizeNotes
Grains6-11 servings per day
(depending on calorie needs)
1 slice of bread, 1/2 cup cooked rice or pastaPrefer whole grains
Vegetables3-5 servings per day1 cup raw or 1/2 cup cookedVaried colors and types
Fruits2-4 servings per day1 medium fruit, 1/2 cup choppedInclude a variety of fruits
Dairy Products3 servings per day1 cup milk, 1.5 oz cheesePrefer organic, low-fat or fat-free dairy products
Proteins (Meat, Poultry, Fish, Eggs, Nuts, Beans)2-3 servings per day2-3 oz cooked meat, 1 egg, 1/2 cup cooked beansInclude lean meats and limit high-mercury fish
Healthy FatsLimited amounts1 tsp oil, 1/8 avocadoE.g., avocados, nuts, olive oil
Sweets and FatsLimit or avoidVariesMinimize processed and high-sugar foods

What are the RDA/DRI nutrient recommendations for pregnant women?

NutrientRDA/DRI for Pregnant Women
Folate (Folic Acid)600-800 mcg/day
Iron27 mg/day
Calcium1,000 mg/day
Vitamin D600-800 IU/day
Vitamin B61.9 mg/day
Vitamin B122.6 mcg/day
Vitamin C85 mg/day
Vitamin E15 mg/day
Zinc11 mg/day

In addition to the nutrients listed in the table, there are some other important nutrients that are needed during pregnancy that are in your prenatal are:

  • Vitamin A: Vitamin A is important for vision, immune function, and fetal growth and development. However, excessive intake of vitamin A can be harmful during pregnancy, so it’s important to stay within the recommended daily intake of 770-1,300 mcg of vitamin A (including both preformed vitamin A from animal sources and provitamin A from plant sources).
  • Iodine: Iodine is important for fetal brain development and thyroid function. The recommended daily intake of iodine during pregnancy is 220-290 mcg.

Prenatal vitamins also contain other important nutrients like calcium and vitamin D. These can help with the development of your baby’s bones, teeth, and brain.

Again, the recommended daily intakes may vary depending on individual circumstances, so it’s always a good idea to consult with a registered dietitian to determine the right amounts of nutrients for you and your pregnancy.


The Supplements Most Expecting Moms Will Need:

Here are the main supplements to optimize your nutrient intake for pregnancy:

  • Prenatal Vitamin: A high-quality prenatal vitamin is required throughout pregnancy. Many experts recommend beginning a prenatal supplement before pregnancy to assure plenty of folate during those critical first few days after conception.
  • DHA: Some women will be able to consume enough low-mercury fish to meet their need for DHA. Consult a registered dietitian for advice on optimizing your intake.
  • Choline: Supplements are generally needed to reach the recommended level of choline for pregnancy.
  • Iron: If your physician prescribes iron in addition to what is provided in the prenatal vitamin.
  • Calcium: 1000 mg calcium per day is needed to meet your calcium needs–the equivalent of 4 cups of milk per day. Calcium supplements may be a good alternative, especially if you are lactose intolerant or allergic to dairy.
  • Psyllium: If constipation becomes a problem, consider adding psyllium.

Why Professionals Choose the Fullscript Formulary

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Cover The Basics With A Prenatal Multivitamin

Prenatal vitamins are specifically designed to provide you with the extra nutrients you need during pregnancy. They contain higher levels of folic acid, iron, and other essential vitamins and minerals that are crucial for a healthy pregnancy.

Folic acid is essential for the development of your baby’s brain and spine. Taking a prenatal vitamin with the recommended amount of folic acid can reduce the risk of birth defects.

Iron is another important nutrient that’s found in prenatal vitamins. It’s needed to make more blood to supply oxygen to your growing baby. And if you don’t get enough iron, you could develop anemia, which can leave you feeling tired and weak.

Prenatal Vitamin from ThorneTM

Amount Per 3 capsule Serving
Biotin
 … 50mcg
Boron … 1mg (Glycinate Complex)
Calcium … 90mg (Citrate)
Calcium … 90mg (Malate)
Choline … 110mg (Citrate)
Chromium … 100mcg (Nicotinate Glycinate)
Copper … 2mg (Bisglycinate)
Folate … 1.7mg DFE (L-5-MTHF)
Iodine … 150mcg (Potassium Iodide)
Iron … 45mg (Bisglycinate)
Magnesium … 45mg (Citrate)
Magnesium … 45mg (Malate)
Manganese … 5mg (Bisglycinate Chelate)
Selenium … 50mcg (Selenomethionine)
Vitamin A … 450mcg (Beta carotene)
Vitamin A … 600mcg (Palmitate)
Vitamin B1 … 5mg (Thiamin)
Vitamin B12 … 200mcg (Methylcobalamin)
Vitamin B2 … 5mg (Riboflavin 5′-Phosphate Sodium)
Vitamin B3 … 30mg (Niacinamide)
Vitamin B5 …18mg (Pantothenic Acid)
Vitamin B6 …12mg (Pyridoxal 5′-Phosphate)
Vitamin C … 150mg (Ascorbic Acid)
Vitamin D3 (1,000 IU) … 25mcg
Vitamin E … 33.5mg (d-Alpha-Tocopheryl)
Vitamin K … 100mcg (as Vitamin K1)
Zinc … 25mg (Bisglycinate Chelate)

Baby Brain Builder: Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids, specifically DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), are important for fetal brain and eye development. The American Pregnancy Association recommends that pregnant women consume 300 mg of DHA per day. EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) is another type of omega-3 fatty acid that is also beneficial during pregnancy, with a recommended daily intake of 220-300 mg.

Fish oil capsules have almost no mercury or other harmful compounds like PCBs. These supplements can be used to meet the need for DHA to optimize brain development. Prospective studies in pregnant women who consumed the recommended fish intake or received supplements of fish oil generally demonstrate a beneficial effect on the neurodevelopmental outcomes of the children. [PMC3046737]

Prenatal DHA

  • Supports healthy development of the brain, eyes, and nervous and immune systems*
  • Provides 480 mg of DHA, exceeding the minimum recommendations (300 mg) of daily DHA intake

A woman’s demand for DHA increases during pregnancy. DHA is essential for the proper development of infants and children, and offers mood and nerve support for mothers.*

Prenatal DHA is a convenient and effective way to ensure that mothers and their growing babies get enough of this vital nutrient every day. Surpassing all international standards for purity, freshness, and concentration, Nordic Naturals Prenatal DHA provides the benefits of omega-3 fats without the risk of toxicity. Ideal for pregnant and nursing mothers, these unflavored soft gels are half the size of standard soft gels, and are perfect for the sensitive palates of pregnant women. Prenatal DHA provides the foundation for a healthy pregnancy.

Amount Per 2 Softgel Serving
Saturated fat … 0g
Trans fat … 0g
Vitamin D-3 … 400IU (cholecalciferol)
Total Omega-3s … 830mg
EPA … 205mg (Eicosapentaenoic Acid)
DHA … 480mg (Docosahexaenoic Acid)

Other Omega-3s … 145mg

Baby Brain Builder: Choline

Choline is important for brain development and can also help prevent birth defects. The recommended daily intake of choline for pregnant women is 450-550 mg. [PMC6722688] The table that follows can help you see how challenging it can be to meet these choline recommendations through food intake alone.

FoodCholine Content
(per ounce of cooked food)
Egg yolk115 mg
Beef liver-Choose Organic69 mg
Salmon34 mg
Milk (1 cup)24 mg
Chicken breast15 mg
Quinoa6 mg
Brussels sprouts, Broccoli5 mg
Peanut butter3 mg

Choline 550mg by Vital Nutrients

  • Adequate levels of choline are necessary to maintain normal pregnancy, including early brain development, and may have lasting neurocognitive benefits for the children*[PMC6722688]
  • Supports brain and nervous system functions including memory, mood and muscle control*
  • Promotes normal lipid transport and metabolism to support liver health*

Take 2 capsules daily achieves FDA daily value for choline. For pregnancy, 2 capsules 2 times daily achieves the intake during pregnancy that may produce cognitive benefits for your child.

Amount Per 2 Capsules
Choline … 550mg (bitartrate)

Add Iron Only As Prescribed by Your Physician

Your prenatal vitamin has iron, so you would only want to add more iron on the recommendation of your medical provider. The bisglycinate form of iron is known for being the best tolerated option. Take it with a high Vitamin C item like orange juice to get the best absorption.

Prenatal Iron (Iron Glycinate) By Needed

Some mamas need extra Iron to support blood volume expansion, thyroid and immune function, fighting fatigue, and for adequate birth weight and baby’s on-time neurodevelopment. Our Iron is bound to Glycine for better absorption and digestive comfort. 13.5mg capsules allow you to flex the dose up and down, depending on how much supplemental iron you need.
Suggested Use:
Take one capsule up to four times daily, as advised by your health practitioner. We suggest taking away from meals and your Prenatal Multi. Our Iron is absorbed most easily on an empty stomach.

Serving Size: One Capsule

Amount Per Serving
Iron (as ferrous bisglycinate, Ferrochel™)…13.5mg

Other Ingredients: Cellulose, Vegetable Capsule, and L-Leucine

Add Calcium If You Eat Less Than 3 Servings of Dairy Per Day

Calcium Citrate

Calcium is required for strong bones and teeth at every stage of life. Calcium is also very important during pregnancy and lactation, as well as when healing from injuries. In later years, our bones can begin to lose some of their sturdiness and strength, so a calcium-rich diet and supplementation become even more important. Chewable Calcium makes getting our daily dose of calcium easy at every age. Each tasty, vanilla chewable provides 250 mg of calcium, which supports healthy bones and teeth.

  • Helps maintain healthy bones and teeth
  • 250 mg of calcium in a single vanilla chewable
  • Highly absorbable
  • Chewable tablets with natural vanilla flavor
  • Potency and quality guaranteed

Amount Per 1 Tablet Serving
Calcium … 250mg (from calcium citrate)

For Constipation: Fiber, Water, & Physical Activity

Constipation is a very common problem, especially late in pregnancy and with the addition of supplemental iron. Fiber, fluid, and exercise play crucial roles in managing constipation. Fiber-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains help add bulk to the stool and promote regular bowel movements. Adequate fluid intake ensures that the stool remains soft and easy to pass. Regular exercise helps stimulate the digestive system. Additionally, fiber supplement powder can be a convenient way to increase fiber intake, especially for those with busy lifestyles. It’s important to remember that a combination of these factors, along with a balanced diet, can be effective in treating and preventing constipation. [PMC3418980]

Consider A Fiber Supplement for Constipation

Constipation is a common issue, and dietary fiber can be a valuable tool in managing it. However, not all types of fiber affect the body in the same way. Soluble Fiber absorbs water and forms a gel-like consistency, which can soften stool. Foods rich in soluble fiber include oats, beans, lentils, apples, and citrus fruits. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to the stool and helps it move through the intestines more quickly. Insoluble fiber is found in whole grains, nuts, seeds, and vegetables like carrots and tomatoes.

Psyllium Fiber by Nutritional Fundamentals for Health

Psyllium husk is a well-known dietary fiber that has been used in traditional medicine for many centuries. Its unique viscosity and water-holding capacity has made psyllium a choice ingredient in baking products, including gluten-free baked goods. The most common use for psyllium is to relieve constipation by increasing stool output, weight and improving bowel movement and frequency. Psyllium SAP provides high-quality non-GMO psyllium husk that can help enhance gastrointestinal health and provide relief from constipation.*
Suggested Use: Adults: Take 1 level tablespoon (approx. 8 g) once daily or as directed by your healthcare practitioner. Start by taking 1 rounded teaspoon (approx. 5 g) per day. As your body adjusts to the increased fiber intake, gradually increase to 1 level tablespoon per day. For each gram of psyllium, mix with 1 1/3 ounce of liquid (water, milk, fruit juice or similar aqueous beverage). Stir briskly and drink immediately. Maintain adequate fluid intake. Take a few hours before or after taking other medications or natural health products. Take during the day (not immediately prior to bedtime). Minimum daily dose may be increased, up to the maximum daily dose, until desired effect is obtained. Effects observed 12-24 hours after first dose and may take 2-3 days.

Amount Per Level Tablespoon (~8g) Serving
Psyllium
 … 8g (Plantago ovata)

A Word Of Caution On Herbal Supplements In Pregnancy

Even though several plants can improve the female reproductive function, the use of herbs, herbal preparations, or essential oils during pregnancy is questionable… The major concerns include causing abortion, reproductive hormone modulation, maternal toxicity, teratogenicity [birth defects], and embryo-fetotoxicity. 

Maternal Reproductive Toxicity of Some Essential Oils and Their Constituents [PMC7956842]

Food First!

Although this article discusses supplements in detail, don’t forget that we are absolutely committed to the “Food First” approach to nutrition. When it comes to your health, the totality of your eating habits far surpasses the impact of individual nutrients or any single supplement you consume. Even though this article doesn’t delve into the broader picture of your overall diet, it’s crucial to keep this element at the forefront of our minds. Your food needs to provide all the vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals to nourish your body systems down to the cellular level.

Food choices, rather than supplements, are the most critical factors for a healthy gut microbiome. These trillions of tiny inhabitants in your gut affect your brain waves; they orchestrate your immune system. They possess the power to create molecules that can switch genes on or off and are even capable of synthesizing neurotransmitters. Opting for organic foods and steering clear of plastic packaging (including those labeled BPA-free) is a smart move to limit toxin exposure. The sum of all these parts leads to a powerful conclusion: the ultimate key to your health lies in the quality and balance of the food you consume. Supplements are secondary.

To Sum It Up

A diet carefully chosen to be high in all the right nutrients, low in toxins and supplemented appropriately plays a critical role in optimizing neurodevelopment during pregnancy. By focusing on natural, minimally processed foods and steering clear of toxins, you’re providing the best environment for your baby’s developing nervous system. Nutrient supplements are invaluable in this period, helping to meet the heightened demands for nutrients like folic acid, iron, calcium, and choline – all crucial for optimal neural development. This sensitive period of development is a crucial time to prioritize a balanced, low-toxin diet with the right nutrient supplements. In doing so, you’re not just nourishing your baby, but also setting the stage for their optimal brain development and long-term health.

For more on this topic, check out Fullscript’s article on Nutrition In Pregnancy.


This Article is Not a Substitute for Medical Advice

Dietary supplements are not designed to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The Supplement Sciences website seeks to provide comprehensive access to the most relevant supplement information along with convenient online ordering. We do not provide medical advice and cannot guarantee that every product suggested is completely without risk. Since each person is unique in their health history and medication use, it is important to discuss supplements with your personal physician. Specifically, pregnant women and individuals being treated for cancer or liver or kidney problems must consult their physician about every nutritional supplement they plan to take. People taking medications for the treatment of HIV or with a history of organ transplant must not take supplements without consulting with their physician.


About the Author

Stephanie Figon, MS, RDN, LD

Founder of NutriScape.NET. As a dietitian since 1992, Steph Figon has had experiences in consulting, 15 years in clinical, and has operated a private practice nutrition counseling office for since 2011. Connect on Linkedin

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