During pregnancy, one of the challenges many women face is the constant barrage of “eat this” and “don’t eat that.” A lot of women have a hard time taking that prenatal vitamin, whether due to morning sickness, or the size of some of the vitamins out there.
A great way to be sure you are getting all the nutrients you and your baby need is by eating the foods that contain them. Study after study has shown that we absorb far more nutrients from our food then from a supplement.
So here’s a little info that might help pregnant mamas tackle two of the hot topics for pregnancy nutrition right now: vitamin D and protein.
For many people, especially those who don’t eat a lot of meat, it can be challenging to also meet the recommended daily levels of protein for pregnancy. A friend recently shared an article on spelt, a wonderful whole grain, that is packed with protein. A single serving contains 10.7 grams! The bread recipe linked to the article also calls for flax seeds – another great, natural source of Omega-3 essential fatty acids. Essential fatty acids, the “good fats,” provide a host of health benefits, like better memory and brain function, a real dietary bonus.
An article recently published stated that “a new study in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology says seven out of 10 pregnant women in the U.S. are not getting enough of this crucial vitamin. Prenatal vitamins do raise vitamin D levels during pregnancy but this study shows that higher doses may be needed.”
We can easily absorb vitamin D from just fifteen minutes of bare skin exposure to the sun per day. But cold climates, or sunscreen use often blocks those health rays. The great news is that there really are quite a few choices when it comes to foods that contain vitamin D. And, happily, many of these foods are protein packed! While vitamin D is added to fortified foods such as milk, cheese, yogurt and cereal, it occurs naturally in eggs, mushrooms and many types of fish.
Shiitake and button mushrooms that have been dried in the sun are great at absorbing vitamin D. And all that sunshine vitamin gets passed on to those who consume the mushrooms, along with high amounts of B vitamins, which have been shown to help with nausea.
In climates with higher latitudes, like Alaska, people tend to get less vitamin D from the sun, but also tend to eat more fatty fish. These fish, while high in vitamin D also contain high amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids. Some examples of these vitamin D packed fish are salmon, catfish, tuna, and sardines. A small 3 1/2 ounce serving of one of these fish contains 50-90% of the recommended daily value of vitamin D. When choosing these fish, however, make sure you are getting fish that are low in mercury and sustainably raised.