Boosting nutrient reserves through proper nutrition for pregnancy

Birth defects commonly occur during the first three weeks of gestation, often before a woman even knows she's pregnant.

Humans store nutrients in the body to be used by the cells and organs for all daily functioning, and for times of particular need, such as pregnancy, immune function, and detoxifying toxins. When a woman becomes pregnant, her nutrient reserves are used to ensure that the fetus receives adequate nutrition for its development. This taxing of the body is why it is important to build up nutrient reserves before becoming pregnant and before having a second or third child.  Many first-time mothers are so excited that they work on building nutrients before and during their first pregnancy.  After, they are busy with their new babies and already know what to expect with pregnancy and are often less likely to focus on building these reserves.  As many nutrients are used during pregnancy, it is even more essential to boost nutrient reserves – both after the pregnancy and before additional pregnancies for the health of the mother and future children.

In addition to building nutrients prior to pregnancy, during pregnancy bringing in a continuous supply of nutrients is key.  These nutrients are the building blocks for a growing fetus.  Eating foods high in nutrients helps support a pregnant woman and her baby.

Dr. Weston A. Price, a dentist and anthropological researcher in the 1930’s studied traditional diets in native cultures and the influence modern proceeded foods had on health.  He discovered that from the very first generation that switched to “modern, processed foods,” their offspring had physical changes and health problems.  Much of this was from the nutrient deficiencies, lack of fermented foods, harmful fats, and lack of enzymes that these processed foods contained.  Processed foods does not mean only foods such Spam, boxed mac and cheese, and Wonder bread – it also includes foods such as any boxed cereals, canned soups, and packaged cookies.  The closer you can stay to “food from the farmer” (a fruit or vegetable, a cut of meat, or whole grains) the more healthful it becomes.

While it is important to take a prenatal vitamin as an “insurance policy,” it is equally important to eat healthy foods high in vitamins and minerals. There are many cofactors for absorption of nutrients in foods that we may not receive in the correct combination and proportion in a concentrated vitamin formula. Additionally, we only absorb what we digest (not what we eat), so focusing on digestion is another beneficial thing we can do to boost nutrient reserves.

Learn all the essentials in Julie's Nutrition for Pregnancy class.

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