1. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)
DHA from concentrated fish oil supplements helps support the normal development of the baby's brain and retina. A pregnant woman can lose as much as 50 percent of the DHA from her brain—a major contributor to postpartum depression. Mothers with low levels of DHA also are more likely to deliver prematurely. Read more about eating essential fats during pregnancy.
First, I must emphasize the difference between natural folate from food and synthetic folic acid from supplements. Eating enough folate during pregnancy has been shown to prevent neural-tube birth defects and acute childhood leukemia. It may also help prevent miscarriage, and has been linked to a decreased risk of autism. In the mother, folate helps prevent anemia and supports emotional health.
L-5-methyltetrahydrofolate (L-5-MTHF) is the active form of folate and ensures more immediate effects on metabolism compared to synthetic folic acid, the form commonly used in fortified foods and supplements. Synthetic folic acid is not recommended, especially for those with certain types of MTHFR issues, due to the inability to convert folic acid to methylfolate. I recommend women supplement with L-5-MTHF or Folinic acid --- not folic acid.
3. Probiotics (lactobacillus, acidophilus, and bifidobacteria)
Probiotics help maintain good immune function to prevent respiratory, gastrointestinal, and vaginal infections—reducing the risk of complications during delivery. When pregnant mothers take these "healthy bacteria," their children are less likely to develop allergies. Read more about probiotics during pregnancy.
4. Vitamin D
Vitamin D supports normal fetal growth, including bone, neurologic, and immune system development. Supplementation may help prevent the child from getting diabetes and multiple sclerosis. Read more tips about vitamin D and pregnancy.
5. Liver Support
It's important to minimize the fetus' exposure to toxins while in utero. This includes heavy metals, xenoestrogens, and pesticides. To do this, the liver pathways must receive the nutrients they need to process the toxins and eliminate them. One example of this is a product called Dim-X which contains powerful nutrients that support the liver's natural detoxification processes.
Even better is to prevent these toxins from entering your body in the first place. If you want to know how you can minimize your fetus' exposure to toxins, I recommend monitoring what you expose your body to.
Here's how you're being exposed to toxins through what you're inhaling.
Here's how you're being exposed to toxins by what you're eating.
Here's how you're being exposed to toxins by what you're putting on your skin and absorbing.
Kelly Harrington, MS, RDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Healthy Goods