my vegan prenatal supplement protocol
Since announcing about our fam's changes coming up this fall, I thought I would go into more detail on what my supplement protocol looks like as a pregnant vegan. I was completely vegan with my first pregnancy, but doing things much differently this time around when it comes to the supplement part (nutrition still much the same). So if you or someone you know is currently vegan + pregnant, I hope this post will come in handy for you!
I must first say that although I have my degree in nutrition, I am NOT an expert. I am doing what works for my body & simply sharing my journey with you. Before making any changes and if you have concerns, please seek a healthcare professional (although I personally wouldn't consider heading to the doctor seeing as they only have about half a credit in nutrition ;).
I've learnt a lot in the six year gap between pregnancies which has allowed me to come to a place of feeling awesome and confident about my day-to-day supplement practice, so let's get into it!
My Prenatal Supplement: Lifelong Vitality
This is THE foundation for my prenatal supplementation protocol and let me tell you why...
When I started my dōTERRA essential oil journey back in 2016, I had NO idea that their top-selling product was actually their supplements, called Lifelong Vitality (aka LLV, for short). It took me a year to start taking them and boy did I miss out in that year! Now let me tell you why this actually doubles as a beautiful prenatal + I'll go through the breakdown of what they are (because as you can see from the above picture, LLV makes up three different pills that you're taking throughout the day). (Note: LLV comes in a vegan & non-vegan version. I will only be talking about the vegan version here.)
In this day and age of supplementation, a lot of what we see on the shelves are mega-doses (we're sometimes talking numbers like "1000% DV/daily value") of the essential vitamins and minerals our bodies need.
Why this actually isn't a good thing...
We might think that overdosing on these vitamins will fill in any gaps we're missing in our bodies/from diet, but this is false. In fact, you're likely paying to then pee out these mega-dosed vitamins, which seems very silly, don't you agree? Instead, what I love about LLV is that they're formulated based on the culture/country you live in (LLV in North America is formulated much different than LLV in Asia), so we know it's specific to diet/lifestyle on delivering what we need to our bodies in appropriate amounts. This basically means no mega-dosing involved - just what we need :)
And on top of vitamin and mineral amounts, we must consider the bioavailability of them in the supplement. With LLV, the vitamin and minerals are presented in food format for improved bioavailability (aka absorption), which is why you'll often see vitamins and minerals in supplements presented in such high amounts - since not all are absorbed, even with some promising well above what's needed (ex. 500% DV, but you could very well not even be meeting the 100% DV (aka what you are actually required in a given day) because of the bioavailability of the vitamin/mineral in that supplement). This is one thing I highly recommend you look into if you're currently supplementing with anything else - and this doesn't just go for prenatals, it goes for ANY supplements! We want to make sure we're getting the right amounts our bodies need in a day!
Also, I believe it's a pipe dream to think we can get all the essential vitamins and minerals from our diet - even as a vegan. Our soil is seriously depleted in nutrients than what is used to be and in all honesty, as clean as I eat and even with variety, I want insurance with supplements. And you probably do, too. So although my house eats kale & other greens like it's going out of style, this does not mean that I don't have days of frozen (cheese free) pizzas or Chipotle dins out--there are definitely some nutritional gaps in there. So, just consider this even if you think your diet has you fully covered.
Now let me quickly let you in on the three individual supplements that make up LLV and why all three are beneficial in your pregnancy journey.
- Microplex VMz (vegan): This is your balanced formula of essential vitamins and bioavailable minerals aka your multi-vitamin.
- Alpha CRS+: Contain polyphenols to protect cells from free radicals that can damage cellular DNA aka your new energy + cellular support supplement! The crazy part about this supplement is that is also supports energy and immune function. First thing I notice when I run out of these (and don't have any on back-up--oops!) is my lack of energy. Never be without! This is the one with the most immediately noticed changes!
- vEO Mega (vegan): Your essential fatty acids to help support heart and circulatory health, brain health and immune function aka your omega blend. Delivered from plant-based algaes (microalgae astaxanthin) + others like flax seed oil, borage oil, DHA from algae, Incha Inchi, and more. Think: baby's developing brain!
I like to take my doses of the supplements (2 pills of each of the above 3) 2x a day. First half dose (6 pills) at breakfast or lunch and then second dose (6 pills) at lunch or dinner.
And are you ready for the BEST part in all of this... all these supplements contain a "tummy tamer" essential oil blend in them. So you know sometimes when you take a supplement on an empty stomach and can feel queasy? Not with these! Plus, I love how unique they are by having the benefits of essential oils in the supplements to top it all off.
And now for the big Q you're probably wondering before we move onto the next supplement... Do these supplements provide enough folate for growing babe?
I'm quoting this directly from Essential Oils for Pregnancy, Birth & Babies by Stephanie Fritz (LM, CPM):
"Most supplements contain folic acid (synthetic) that needs to be converted to 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (F-MTHF, aka methyl folate) & the body can only metabolize so much - it plateaus at 400 mcg. If you're supplementing more than your body can process, you get un-metabolized, unusable folic acid floating around your body competing for transportation with the good stuff. LLV contains the perfect amount for your body & the body metabolizes 100% of the amount. Plus, using diet to fill in any gaps - there are a lot of foods fortified with folic acid, not to mention going right to the source for folate with dark leafy greens!"
This really helped me out, but take note of an option below if you're still unsure.
Ok, I am done talking about this first vital step in the prenatal supplement process!
Next up...iron. As a vegan, iron stores typically tend to be on the lower end (many years ago when I first went vegan, I got my blood work done and I was in the low end of the normal range, which is TOTALLY ok!), so supplementing here is never a bad idea, especially during pregnancy. One thing to note about iron though and why source/quality matters: when you increase your intake of iron, it can make you constipated. Hopefully you're eating a fiber-rich diet anyway, but just something to consider! That's why I decided on a supplement which is "non-constipating" (their words, not mine ;) by Solgar. LLV provides 6mg of iron + this supplement of 25mg to get to 31mg. Consider doubling up on this supplement to get into a good pregnancy range!
Side note: I had my blood work done on 03/28/18 and my results came back in the healthy range for iron and that was with taking one of these pills along with LLV daily.
This is the one supplement you can choose to add in, but optional when taking LLV. Now I totally get if you need that extra insurance here. Your body is changing and you want to make sure you're doing everything you can to help baby grow, which is why I opted to get a bottle of it, but here's how I use it and also a change I'll make when I get my next bottle...
- I would downsize from 800mcg to 400mcg (with the bioavailability of folate in LLV, you do NOT need an additional 800mcg). You are already getting enough from LLV, but if you feel like you need more, then 400mcg is more than enough. (The body only needs 600mcg during pregnancy.)
- Since I currently have the 800mcg bottle instead of the 400mcg one, I take this pill every 2-3 days instead of everyday. Especially if I'm on top of my LLV supplements.
I take Solgar brand, yet again! See the trend?? ;)
DHA + EPA (omega) oil
Although there's an omega supplement in the LLV pack, I have opted to add in additional DHA + EPA oil - especially as I progress in pregnancy & will be adamant on taking it come the third trimester when baby's brain is developing at a rapid rate.
I love Dr. Furhman's because it contains long-chain omega 3 fatty acids, and it's very palatable. I take it under my tongue, every other day, but again, will up to daily in the third tri.
(Just a reminder: our diets are normally overloaded with omega 6s vs. omega 3s. We need to consciously try to bring down our omega-6 intake to make it more balanced (plus, too much omega 6 is pro-inflammatory); it should be a 1:1 ratio. The misconception is to simply 'up' your omega-3 intake to then match the omega-6 intake, but this is false evidence. There's no showing that this is actually beneficial for the body & now you're just overloading on BOTH ends. Having said that... the reason for the increase in omega-3 consumption in this case is obviously for supporting the baby's growth, but the omega 3/6 debate is VERY much a hot topic these days that I wanted to make note on!)
BONUS: Pair your omega oil with vitamin B12 (which I cover next) - they seem to work better this way (not in a bioavailable way), but in synchronicity. Just some food for thought!
Vitamin B12 is a requirement when vegan whether pregnant or not (I chat more about that in this post). This is the one vitamin that is VERY hard to get in a completely vegan diet - unless you're eating foods fortified in it. For insurance (remember how I talked about that above with the supplements!), we take a sublingual Vitamin B12 supplement (and by 'we' I mean: me, my daughter & my husband). I'm a fan of a dissolvable pill vs. a liquid B12, but this preference is yours to make! We've had tablets with as much as 1000mcg, but as I'm reading more (always researching the best for health!), I'm seeing that taking this daily is TOO much. You would only need this much 2x a week and I've been taking it more often than that. Plus, too much Vitamin B12 can trigger acne-like symptoms in some people, which I've experienced a bit of, but can't tell whether it's related to this or pregnancy hormones. Let's just blame the hormones - it's much easier that way ;)
Solgar brand again for the win and as you can see from the above picture, we've scaled down to this version to take daily. Note: the 500mcg is NOT flavoured and not as palatable as the 1000mcg. Something I will definitely consider next time I purchase.
Pre + Probiotic
I don't think I understood the importance of probiotics in general back when I was pregnant with my daughter vs. this pregnancy, but now I am a VERY regular probiotic consumer and here's why...
Gut health is much more important than we realize. Plus, if you've been on antibiotics lately or grew up on them, there's a chance that your gut flora could STILL be repopulating itself. Plus, we can't bank on (vegan) yogurt for our daily probiotics needs. We would need upward of 50 single-serving containers PER DAY to meet our requirements. So let's do our guts a favour and add in a little probiotic action ;)
The only probiotic I'll ever use (now) is doTERRA's PB Assist+. If you caught the title above about PREbiotics too, they are just as important as the PRObiotics and this supplement has you covered. Prebiotics are basically fuel for the probiotics, to help it get delivered fully intact to where it needs to go. Plus, PB Assist+ is double encapsulated; yet another way to ensure that the probiotics are making their way past the stomach acid and into the intestine.
I like to take one probiotic per day right before bed.
Vitamin D3 (vegan)
So Vitamin D is a funny one and more personal, but I still wanted to include what I'm doing. When I got my first round of bloodwork done this pregnancy, it came back as deficient in D (ironic right...I live in FL). However, looking at the values, I was just outside of the normal range. My midwife suggested I take 10,000IU everyday of D to help get back in the normal range, but I thought that was excessive. I also (at the time) did not realize that there was a vegan form of Vitamin D3 (from lichen); I thought the only vegan version was available in a D2, as my midwife was recommending a D3 source. Luckily, I discovered mykind organic chewable vegan D3 and felt good with 2,000IU. Plus, this chewable is seriously like candy. It's a total treat to take! I take one daily as well as trying to get out in the sun for more natural exposure (ie: chest, arms and face uncovered with no sunscreen for at least 30 minutes).
For more on (vegan) vitamin D, check out this awesome PDF.
Bone Nutrient Complex
And finally...as a female, AND aging, AND being pregnant, I only felt it right to add in a Bone Nutrient Complex. It contains calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D to promote healthy bones. It says on the bottle to take up to 4 capsules per day, but in all honestly, that would put me at taking 20 pills a day, so I normally wake up, take 1-2 and call it a day. I'm not as consistent with this supplement, but plan to take at least 2 per day moving forward.
This one is a personal choice, but I don't see any harm in proactively taking care of the body as I get older and I truly do believe this is a good supplement option to be taking, especially as a female.
Holy smokes - we did it! We made it to the end. This turned out to be a little more heavy than I originally thought, but hey, maybe you are completely at a loss on what to do with your vegan pregnancy, so I hope this helped! You could also take a look at what I did 6 years ago when I was pregnant for the first time as well (even just to compare how different this journey is from that one)!
And like I said, I have had many, many years to brew over the information and research I've collected + the changes I've made within the past two years (mainly relating to the high-quality supplements I use) in hopes that it can also help someone else as much as it has helped me.
So if you are looking to switch out/get started with supplements, proceed on. Also, I am happy to answer ANY of your vegan supplement questions you may have. Just pop them below in the comments or send me an email!
So are you ready to get supplementing?? (Plus, a special offer for you!)
If you'd like to learn more about the Lifelong Vitality supplements that I take (and will continue taking after pregnancy) and get started with them, then here's what I have to offer you...
Follow the steps below to not only begin your supplement journey with me as your guide, but also have access to the most beautiful essential oils in the world, PLUS, I have a fun little challenge for you (and don't worry, it's a safe + fun one...even while pregnant)!
Let's get started...
STEP 1: CLICK HERE & select your country.
STEP 2: Choose wholesale customer to purely use the supplements + oils.
Select wellness advocate if interested in building a dōTERRA biz.
STEP 3: Fill in your info (+ you should see my name & ID pop up there, but if not, here it is: 2843422).
OPTION 1: Select the $35US/$42CAD wholesale membership fee + add Lifelong Vitality Supplements to your order. Feel free to add on any additional items (maybe a few oils?) to start saving with your 25% off membership.
OPTION 2: If you decide to get started with an enrollment kit instead, this waives the $35US/$42CAD fee, then you can get started with a kit of oils & add on LLV to your initial order (this is a great option because there are many ways to benefit from essential oils during pregnancy too - whole other post ;) - learn more about the current offer here for getting started with a kit + just remember to tag on Lifelong Vitality (vegan) supplements as well!
STEP 5: Enter your payment info & wait for your pure magic to arrive!
STEP 6 (CHALLENGE TIME): Wait for a welcome email from me to arrive within 24 hours of your enrollment with a special bonus now that you're ready to add the supplements into your amazing routine. It will include a 30-day challenge to use + love your supplements with a prize upon completion! The biggest advantage apart from the prize is how GOOD you are going to feel - that's why I want you to commit to it for YOUR health aka the most important part for these 30 days! The best part is dōTERRA themselves have a 30-day money-back guarantee on the supplements if you don't feel more vitality and energized in your body, so it's actually pretty risk-free if you ask me!
Alright! That's it. I cannot wait to see hear from you see and see how amazing your vegan pregnancy journey is!