It’s a complex question, since women have a variety of dietary habits, but there are two supplements I often suggest to those of us living here in Minnesota. It should be noted that prenatal vitamins are important in pregnancy, especially during the first 20 weeks. However, supplementing vitamin D and DHA or fish oil in addition to your prenatal is extra beneficial!
Vitamin D is found in sunshine, and living through Minnesota’s long winters puts us all at a disadvantage for vitamin D absorption automatically. If you have darker skin, you may have even more trouble getting the D you need. Try adding a supplement! Vitamin D has been shown to decrease the risk for pre-eclampsia, low birth weight, and gestational diabetes. Furthermore, vitamin D deficiency in pregnancy has been linked to childhood risks for asthma, type 1 diabetes, and language impairment. Your prenatal vitamins have some vitamin D, but for us Northerners, it's not generally an adequate amount; you need around 4,000 IUs in the winter months!
To further round out your pregnancy supplements, add some DHA. DHA is an essential omega-3 fat found in fish oil. Two to three servings of cold water fatty fish per week can provide women with adequate amounts of DHA. However, with recent concerns surrounding mercury levels in local water, and because Minnesota is far from the ocean, women in our region are not consuming enough. DHA is essential for brain development in the fetus and in breastfeeding infants, so it’s important to supplement. When you’re shopping, make sure that the brand you buy also contains EPA, to ensure proper absorption, and if you’re vegan, be sure to eat lots of walnuts, flax seed, and chia seeds. Supplementation of DHA with EPA is extremely important for vegans—and for everyone.
New! Cheryl recommends these supplements for prenatal support:
Jane Wrede, a Certified Nurse Midwife at Willow, has four children and two labradors, Marley and Peanut. Her interests include lake time and activities, attending her kids’s sporting events, gardening, traveling, baking and enjoying family and friends.