Nov 17, 2022Pregnancy

Top Nutrients for 3rd Trimester and Beyond

by Lisa Dreher
Top Nutrients for 3rd Trimester and Beyond

Most health experts recommend taking a prenatal supplement throughout pregnancy and continuing through lactation because nutrient needs are especially high during this time. In this last blog of our three-part series, we’re going to dive into the top nutrients featured in WeNatal that support the final trimester of pregnancy, postpartum recovery, and lactation.

  1. 1. Choline is related to the B complex vitamins and plays a role in the structure and function of every cell in the body. It is involved in gene expression, preventing neural tube defects, and supporting tissue production. Most importantly, choline is key for proper development of baby’s brain. 

 

Choline is essential leading up to pregnancy and during the first two trimesters, while getting enough choline in the third trimester may actually boost your baby’s cognitive function later in life! New research shows the average daily intake of choline in women ages 20-39 is 285mg per day compared to the recommended 450mg per day. Those who follow a strict vegetarian or vegan diet may have even lower intake because the best sources are animal-based, including whole eggs and liver. Given the average intake, it’s recommended that prenatal supplements contain at least 350mg of choline. Yet, despite the known benefits and recommendations, the vast majority of prenatal supplements offer little to no choline at all! WeNatal is one of the only prenatals on the market to offer as much as 400mg of choline, which is slightly above what is recommended in order to support women who may eat less choline than the average.

2. Vitamin K technically refers to a group of fat-soluble vitamins that play a role in blood clotting/wound healing, bone metabolism, and regulating blood calcium levels. Vitamin K is needed by the baby to support proper bone growth and protein formation in the liver, and to prevent bleeding in the baby after birth, which can happen with vitamin K deficiency. It also ensures proper healing post-delivery for mom, making vitamin K especially important leading up to delivery and postpartum.

3. Vitamin C, otherwise known as ascorbic acid, is one of the body’s major antioxidants and works to increase levels of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide relaxes smooth muscle to increase blood flow which is key for supplying blood to the baby throughout pregnancy. Vitamin C also plays a role in all phases of wound healing, so this nutrient is especially important to help prepare mom for delivery and healing postpartum. It also supports the healthy development of your baby’s teeth, gums, and bones as they begin more rapidly growing.

4. Vitamin A is one of the fat-soluble vitamins that is critical for baby’s growth, immune system development, and helping to prevent infections. It is estimated that a baby will receive 60 times the amount of vitamin A in the first 6 months of life through breast milk than they did during the entire 9 months of pregnancy! In fact, colostrum, the first nutrient-dense fluid that mom produces right after giving birth filled with immune and growth compounds, is especially high in vitamin A. However, the amount of vitamin A found in colostrum and breast milk are directly impacted by mom’s diet and supplement intake. If intake is low, levels will be low in breast milk, which is why vitamin A is so critical during this phase. Additionally, WeNatal chose to include mixed carotenoids, which are health-promoting compounds that give certain foods their characteristic red, yellow, and orange colors such as carrots and pumpkin. They have antioxidant properties and are especially effective at preventing oxidative damage to the baby’s eyes, especially the retina, and nervous system.

5. Iron is last but certainly not least. If you read our previous blog highlighting top nutrients for the first and second trimesters, you’ll see that iron is making another appearance. This is because getting enough iron is so critical throughout every trimester. Iron needs double during pregnancy in order to compensate for the increased blood that’s needed to supply your baby with oxygen while also providing mom what she needs. Iron deficiency is very common among women of childbaring years and pregnancy can make this worse. Taking a supplement with iron throughout pregnancy can help to prevent deficiency and even reduce the risk of postpartum depression. 

Taking a prenatal with the right balance of bioavailable nutrients at each stage of pregnancy is so important. And remember, your nutrient needs don’t stop once your baby is in your arms. In fact, those first few months postpartum and while breastfeeding are particularly demanding on your body. Also, the food you eat and supplements you take today can impact your baby's physical and cognitive health into adulthood. This is why we recommend continuing a prenatal throughout each stage of pregnancy and beyond.

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Lisa Dreher

Lisa Dreher

Lisa is a registered dietitian/nutritionist with a Master’s Degree in Nutrition and Integrative Health. She has been practicing for over a decade and works full time at Dr. Mark Hyman's UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts.

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