6

votes

Paleo pregnancy: supplements... things to avoid?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created May 20, 2012 at 9:25 PM

I couldn't find an answer to this on any of the other pregnancy threads...

Not pregnant yet, but might be in foreseeable future. Been dabbling in paleo for a few months, been paleo proper for a few weeks. If I do get pregnant are there a) any supplements I should take and b) any foods I should avoid?

E.g I just got into eating liver, but read that one should avoid it if pregnant as too much Vit A is bad for baby? Ditto dangers of certain seafood, rare meat, camomile tea, etc. But not sure how much of these recommendations are based on 'conventional' diet ideas (I.e, ideas I've mostly rejected at this point).

I currently eat about 20% carbs, 45% fat, 35% protein. No dairy. Am 36-yrs-old, 5ft7 and 138lbs.

E76821f1019f5284761bc4c33f2bf044

(383)

on June 06, 2012
at 07:40 PM

100% agreed. We so often forget that we are mammals first; our heads will never be smarter than our bodies. My bias is that the more we learn this the easier birth will be, too - get out of your head and let your body and your baby have an ancient conversation.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on June 05, 2012
at 09:01 PM

I think you can still overdose on natural vitamin A, people have been hospitalized after eating polar bear liver. I think I'd stick to beef liver, to taste, 1-2 times per week. The one truth I know about the first trimester is that when I've tried to force myself to eat something just because I thought it was good for me my nausea would get way worse. Intuitive eating for that 12-14 weeks has been what helps with the nausea best.

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on June 05, 2012
at 08:09 PM

PaleoUK, I really want to get hold of some of that frolic acid! It isn't in any of the vitamins in the US.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on June 05, 2012
at 08:08 PM

If you feel better taking a folic acid supplement in addition to a folate-heavy Paleo/Primal diet, then it is unlikely to be a problem. I don't recommend taking folic acid--liver, plus dark leafy greens is sufficient, but not all women can eat those foods in their first trimester!

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on June 05, 2012
at 08:07 PM

"adults and pregnant women need"??? They don't count pregnant women as adults?

E1e798ccd4eed67665652941b9ef7796

(483)

on May 24, 2012
at 12:21 PM

Ok, I've looked into this and you can't get folate supplements in the UK, only folic acid. So I'm in a quandary about whether or not to take folic acid. Dragonfly seems to suggest the 'better safe than sorry' policy, but others strongly advocate against taking it. Very confusing!

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on May 21, 2012
at 10:30 PM

Here's the link about sushi if anyone is curious: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20042060

1407bd6152d9fdbc239250385159fea1

on May 21, 2012
at 02:37 PM

It's a bit of a mess above, but one commenter hit the proverbial nail on the head with regards to why I suggested avoiding folic acid--it is not equivalent to FOLATE. Folic acid is poorly converted to folate and the leftover byproducts can, as suggested by Robb Wolf and Loren Cordain, be problematic for the development of breast/colon/prostate cancer. If I remember correctly, the form of folate that you want to take is "5-methyl-tetrahydrofolate."

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on May 21, 2012
at 12:12 PM

i updated the wiki so it now matches the article (ref 77) it references

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on May 21, 2012
at 12:02 PM

i guess the reason that folic and folate are used interchangeable (or as i said before, bandied around as if they are the same thing) is because they are both called Vitamin B9. Even wiki incorrectly reads "Folic acid naturally found in food is susceptible to high heat and ultraviolet light, and is soluble in water.[77]" but the article it references correctly talks about Folate (not Folic).

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on May 21, 2012
at 11:25 AM

I actually take a B complex supplement myself for general health, but it contains the folate form (so it costs a bit more than the ones that use folic acid). My personal choice is "B-Complex #5" from 'Thorne Research'. I like the fact that its low in Niacinamide & has no Niacin, which i do not think i personally need to take http://www.thorne.com/Products/Endocrine-Support/Adrenal_Support/prd~B105.jsp

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on May 21, 2012
at 11:22 AM

I actually take a B complex supplement myself for general health, but it contains the folate form (so it costs a bit more than the ones that use folic acid). My personal choice is "B-Complex #5" from 'Thorne Research' because i like the fact that is low in Niacinamide (& has no Niacin) http://www.thorne.com/Products/Endocrine-Support/Adrenal_Support/prd~B105.jsp

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on May 21, 2012
at 11:11 AM

Hi PaleoUK, read http://chriskresser.com/folate-vs-folic-acid for all the details. folic and folate are bandied around as if they are the same thing, but they are not. folic is synthetic & folate is natural. folate is found naturally in some foods, not folic (unless it has been added aka fortified) http://perfecthealthdiet.com/2012/03/food-fortification-a-risky-experiment/

E1e798ccd4eed67665652941b9ef7796

(483)

on May 21, 2012
at 10:44 AM

What's the rationale for avoiding folic acid? Here in the UK, that's the one thing they tell you you absolutely should take (from pre-conception up to about 12-weeks pregnant). Now I'm confused...

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on May 21, 2012
at 10:11 AM

I agree best to avoid Folic Acid. But do not avoid Folate http://chriskresser.com/folate-vs-folic-acid "Women planning on becoming pregnant should consume between 800 and 1200 mcg of folate per day for several months before the start of pregnancy. Unless you’re consuming chicken or calf’s liver and substantial amounts of leafy greens on a regular basis, it’s difficult to obtain this amount from diet alone. If you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant, I recommend supplementing with 600-800 mcg of folate per day, depending on your dietary intake"

E1e798ccd4eed67665652941b9ef7796

(483)

on May 21, 2012
at 08:07 AM

Thanks for supplement reco. I probably should've said I'm in the UK. But I'll see if I can get something similar here.

E1e798ccd4eed67665652941b9ef7796

(483)

on May 21, 2012
at 08:05 AM

Sorry - that should be folic, not frolic (stupid predictive text!)

E1e798ccd4eed67665652941b9ef7796

(483)

on May 21, 2012
at 08:04 AM

Re frolic acid...? Avoid? Really? Why's that. Here in the UK they tell you to start taking it when you're trying to conceive.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on May 21, 2012
at 02:30 AM

NIH has changed its stance on sushi during pregnancy. Parasite fears were based on mis-information that sushi is fresh. To be served raw, at least in the states, fish must first be put in deep freeze for 2 weeks, and that should take care of any parasites. If you are really paranoid, maybe avoid raw salmon.

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10 Answers

3
A89f9751a97c3082802dc0bcbe4e9208

(13978)

on May 21, 2012
at 04:58 PM

I avoided pre-natal vitamins and folic acid. Instead, I took these supplements:

  • Vitamin C (to strengthen the membranes; starting at 34 weeks)
  • Enzymes (for constipation)
  • Probiotics
  • Vitamin D
  • Cod Liver Oil/Butter Oil

I also followed the WAFP pregnancy recommendations (except the soaked grains) which included:

  • Cod Liver Oil
  • Whole Milk, grass-fed, non-homogenized
  • butter from grass-fed cows
  • eggs from pastured cows
  • liverwurst and braunsweiger (in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters)
  • healthy fish (increased frequency in the 3rd trimester)
  • grass-fed beef often
  • coconut oil occasionally with meals
  • sauerkraut almost daily
  • bone broth almost daily
  • lots of veggies

I also drank more juice than normal.

I recommend the book Real Food for Mother and Baby.

My little girl is 5 weeks old as of yesterday and is healthy and strong! She's in the 75th percentile for weight and >97th percentile for height! :)

3
543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on May 21, 2012
at 03:27 AM

Here are a couple more links which reference the importance of Vitamin D (D3) and pregnancy.

http://drgominak.com/vitamin-d "....Each baby sucks up mom???s vit??a??min D. Unfor??tu??nately each prenatal vitamin has only 400 IU of vit??a??min D, which is not nearly enough to pro??vide for mom and the devel??op??ing baby. Each baby uses up mom???s D and if she???s not out in the sun enough her D deficit is never cor??rected between preg??nan??cies. Each result??ing child is more D defi??cient and each baby sleeps worse than the last. Mom also sleeps badly being more D defi??cient her??self with each baby. The chronic sleep dis??or??der over sev??eral years can result in post??par??tum depres??sion and occa??sion??ally psy??chosis; (abnor??mal thoughts and hal??lu??ci??na??tions)...."

http://blog.vitamindcouncil.org/2012/03/13/optimal-levels-of-vitamin-d-during-pregnancy/ "....The Vitamin D Council agrees and considers this an important study in support of why adults and pregnant women need at least 4,000 IU/day to elevate blood levels and improve fetal health and birth outcomes...."

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on June 05, 2012
at 08:07 PM

"adults and pregnant women need"??? They don't count pregnant women as adults?

2
Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on May 21, 2012
at 12:40 AM

I have a blog post on the topic:

http://www.primaltoad.com/primal-pregnancy/

And other articles you may find helpful on my blog: http://www.sondrarose.com/blog

2
4b0fa9c9960bc2a409b06354d0bed92f

on May 20, 2012
at 10:07 PM

Chris Kresser recommends the Pure Encapsulations Nutrient-950 with Vit K as a back-up for those pregnant women who don't think they can follow his recommended diet strictly. I have taken it my entire pregnancy--it's $40 a month.

He also recommends Green Pasture Fermented Cod Liver Oil, and I have been taking the FCLO/Butter Oil blend in Cinnamon Tingle. I recommend it--it really tastes pretty good compared with the regular liquid form.

As far as diet, I don't really follow any of the "conventional advice" for pregnant women--I have eaten sushi from time to time, I don't worry about rare meat, I've had raw milk, liver, etc. My thinking is that as long as I use common sense and trust my food sources, if I didn't avoid something before I was pregnant, I don't see a reason to avoid it now. My midwife agrees, and she actually recommends a Paleo diet to all of her clients.

I think Chris Kresser has answered the liver question himself, so I would turn to him (or Robb Wolf, or Balanced Bites...I believe at least one of them has addressed liver in pregnancy), but I know that at least Kresser and WAPF encourage weekly liver consumption in pregnancy.

Good luck!

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on May 21, 2012
at 10:30 PM

Here's the link about sushi if anyone is curious: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20042060

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on May 21, 2012
at 02:30 AM

NIH has changed its stance on sushi during pregnancy. Parasite fears were based on mis-information that sushi is fresh. To be served raw, at least in the states, fish must first be put in deep freeze for 2 weeks, and that should take care of any parasites. If you are really paranoid, maybe avoid raw salmon.

E1e798ccd4eed67665652941b9ef7796

(483)

on May 21, 2012
at 08:07 AM

Thanks for supplement reco. I probably should've said I'm in the UK. But I'll see if I can get something similar here.

2
1407bd6152d9fdbc239250385159fea1

on May 20, 2012
at 09:38 PM

Chris Kresser has the "Healthy Baby Code" product available and has had a fair bit of discussion time on Robb Wolf's podcast regarding the subject of pregnancy nutrition. Those are excellent resources.

Quick notes:

  • Women are often told to avoid fish because of the mercury content, but it's my understanding that most fish contain a higher concentration of selenium than mercury, and as such are not a danger. (Selenium has a high binding affinity for the baddy, mercury. When bound together, the new structure is innocuous.)

  • Vitamin A is a major scare-term thrown around in the fertility world, but it turns out with adequate Vitamin D, Vitamin A toxicity is absolutely through the roof. If I remember correctly, Vitamin A is absolutely crucial to the formation of the dental arches and other elements of the face in babies, so to deny a child that is unwise.

  • As far as prenatal vitamins goes, I could not recommend a specific brand, but avoiding ones containing "folic acid" is crucial.

Best of luck in the coming baby-ing!

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on May 21, 2012
at 10:11 AM

I agree best to avoid Folic Acid. But do not avoid Folate http://chriskresser.com/folate-vs-folic-acid "Women planning on becoming pregnant should consume between 800 and 1200 mcg of folate per day for several months before the start of pregnancy. Unless you’re consuming chicken or calf’s liver and substantial amounts of leafy greens on a regular basis, it’s difficult to obtain this amount from diet alone. If you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant, I recommend supplementing with 600-800 mcg of folate per day, depending on your dietary intake"

E1e798ccd4eed67665652941b9ef7796

(483)

on May 21, 2012
at 08:04 AM

Re frolic acid...? Avoid? Really? Why's that. Here in the UK they tell you to start taking it when you're trying to conceive.

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on May 21, 2012
at 11:25 AM

I actually take a B complex supplement myself for general health, but it contains the folate form (so it costs a bit more than the ones that use folic acid). My personal choice is "B-Complex #5" from 'Thorne Research'. I like the fact that its low in Niacinamide & has no Niacin, which i do not think i personally need to take http://www.thorne.com/Products/Endocrine-Support/Adrenal_Support/prd~B105.jsp

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on May 21, 2012
at 12:02 PM

i guess the reason that folic and folate are used interchangeable (or as i said before, bandied around as if they are the same thing) is because they are both called Vitamin B9. Even wiki incorrectly reads "Folic acid naturally found in food is susceptible to high heat and ultraviolet light, and is soluble in water.[77]" but the article it references correctly talks about Folate (not Folic).

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on May 21, 2012
at 12:12 PM

i updated the wiki so it now matches the article (ref 77) it references

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on May 21, 2012
at 11:22 AM

I actually take a B complex supplement myself for general health, but it contains the folate form (so it costs a bit more than the ones that use folic acid). My personal choice is "B-Complex #5" from 'Thorne Research' because i like the fact that is low in Niacinamide (& has no Niacin) http://www.thorne.com/Products/Endocrine-Support/Adrenal_Support/prd~B105.jsp

E1e798ccd4eed67665652941b9ef7796

(483)

on May 21, 2012
at 10:44 AM

What's the rationale for avoiding folic acid? Here in the UK, that's the one thing they tell you you absolutely should take (from pre-conception up to about 12-weeks pregnant). Now I'm confused...

1407bd6152d9fdbc239250385159fea1

on May 21, 2012
at 02:37 PM

It's a bit of a mess above, but one commenter hit the proverbial nail on the head with regards to why I suggested avoiding folic acid--it is not equivalent to FOLATE. Folic acid is poorly converted to folate and the leftover byproducts can, as suggested by Robb Wolf and Loren Cordain, be problematic for the development of breast/colon/prostate cancer. If I remember correctly, the form of folate that you want to take is "5-methyl-tetrahydrofolate."

E1e798ccd4eed67665652941b9ef7796

(483)

on May 21, 2012
at 08:05 AM

Sorry - that should be folic, not frolic (stupid predictive text!)

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on May 21, 2012
at 11:11 AM

Hi PaleoUK, read http://chriskresser.com/folate-vs-folic-acid for all the details. folic and folate are bandied around as if they are the same thing, but they are not. folic is synthetic & folate is natural. folate is found naturally in some foods, not folic (unless it has been added aka fortified) http://perfecthealthdiet.com/2012/03/food-fortification-a-risky-experiment/

E1e798ccd4eed67665652941b9ef7796

(483)

on May 24, 2012
at 12:21 PM

Ok, I've looked into this and you can't get folate supplements in the UK, only folic acid. So I'm in a quandary about whether or not to take folic acid. Dragonfly seems to suggest the 'better safe than sorry' policy, but others strongly advocate against taking it. Very confusing!

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on June 05, 2012
at 08:09 PM

PaleoUK, I really want to get hold of some of that frolic acid! It isn't in any of the vitamins in the US.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on June 05, 2012
at 08:08 PM

If you feel better taking a folic acid supplement in addition to a folate-heavy Paleo/Primal diet, then it is unlikely to be a problem. I don't recommend taking folic acid--liver, plus dark leafy greens is sufficient, but not all women can eat those foods in their first trimester!

1
Ca2c940a1947e6200883908592956680

(8574)

on May 21, 2012
at 12:30 PM

This may be a useful read:

"Pregnant mothers also need to limit protein to less than 20% of calories to avoid risks to their baby both perinatally and in later life." Perfect Health Diet. Paul & Shou-Ching Shih Jaminet.

Perfect Health Diet: The Danger of Protein During Pregnancy.

1
6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on May 21, 2012
at 09:23 AM

In the first trimester avoid excess vitamin C (more than 1000mg/day) and magnesium (more than 600mg supplemental/day) because both have been linked to accidental miscarriage.

I learned after I had been taking it for years that 5-HTP shouldn't be taken during pregnancy because it can cause heart defects, so I stopped mid second trimester and luckily baby seemed okay on the heart scan done by ultrasound.

After that scare, I now wouldn't take any herb without the okay of my midwife, an herbalist, or a whole lot of googling, except for maybe red raspberry leaf infusion. Some are okay during some stages and problematic during others, so a quick phone call or email wouldn't hurt.

Certain green drinks (the one I normally take is Vitamineral Green) alongside all the great stuff contain things that might not be great for the baby in the first trimester like horsetail, the variety of seaweeds, and parsley juice. My nutritionist contacted the company on my behalf, and they said, it wouldn't have anything in great enough dosage to cause harm, but the recommended dosage can very wildly from 1 tsp. to 4 tblsp., so I chose err on side of caution with that one.

Personally though, the sudden onset of food aversions has directed me away from things that could be harmful, coffee went from being my favorite thing to horrid overnight, so if you stick to whole foods, I think you can trust yourself and your nose. It just gets a bit tricky when the flavors and smells are hidden in capsules and can't get fully vetted by your hyperactive sense of smell during pregnancy.

1
Eea6a68f5a7190d13c60e1c72417a581

(1376)

on May 21, 2012
at 08:02 AM

My midwife did not reccomend any supplementation. She encouraged a varied whole food nutrient dense diet with plenty of pastured eggs and grass fed beef. She didn't worry over the occasional bit of dark beer past the first trimester, but discouraged refined carbs. Her educational background was an undetgrad in nutrition and Dr. of Chinese medicine, as well as nursing and midwifery training. She felt that Nutrients are better absorbed from food that supplements. Good luck conceiving!

0
61e701b46c6169f08e37c0f619ce12f8

on June 27, 2012
at 09:55 PM

Pregnant women have been advised to consume omega-3 fatty acids in order to ensure proper development of the fetal neurological system. Even after birth, fish oil supplementation can improve the early development of a newborn's brain, visual system, and motor function in women who breastfeed.

0
E76821f1019f5284761bc4c33f2bf044

(383)

on June 05, 2012
at 08:00 PM

The issue with vitamin A is a) specific to artificial forms, b) based on a single study that has been repeated but the results never replicated (check out Chris Kresser on Underground Wellness Radio about this if you don't want to subscribe to the Healthy Baby Code), and c) as noted below, modulated by vitD intake such that - as long as you're consuming it in a whole food form such as liver - you pretty much can't overdose. See Chris Masterjohn's article on the WAPF website for a comprehensive treatment of the issue.

Load up on vitD and Mg now and concentrate on cleansing your liver. This will minimise morning sickness (I drank a good spoonful of Mg citrate in herbal tea each night in my first trimester this time, and found it keep the nausea down the next day). As will daily protein - see the Brewer "blue ribbon baby" diet.

Note that vitK2 is (with vitA) crucial to the symmetrical development of wide skull and palate, and crazy hard to get. This is where the recommendation for butter oil comes in. Unless you want to develop a taste for slimy fermented soy beans or can afford foie gras weekly, it's your best source. May also help with the risk of low-grade oral infection during pregnancy, which is a risk factor for preterm birth or miscarriage.

Gilliebean's list is a good one. Find a probiotic and/or digestive enzyme that agrees with you now; you'll need it once rising progesterone and relaxin kick in and stall your peristolsys!

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on June 05, 2012
at 09:01 PM

I think you can still overdose on natural vitamin A, people have been hospitalized after eating polar bear liver. I think I'd stick to beef liver, to taste, 1-2 times per week. The one truth I know about the first trimester is that when I've tried to force myself to eat something just because I thought it was good for me my nausea would get way worse. Intuitive eating for that 12-14 weeks has been what helps with the nausea best.

E76821f1019f5284761bc4c33f2bf044

(383)

on June 06, 2012
at 07:40 PM

100% agreed. We so often forget that we are mammals first; our heads will never be smarter than our bodies. My bias is that the more we learn this the easier birth will be, too - get out of your head and let your body and your baby have an ancient conversation.

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