Pumping Iron

I can’t think of anyone who disputes the use of prenatal vitamins.

I’ve always been on the fence about supplements though.

I’ve never felt any differences from taking a daily multivitamin.

Periodically, I’ve tried individual vitamin supplements in hopes they would alleviate headaches, tiredness, and fatigue.

I never noticed any dramatic results so I usually end up not finishing them.

The only supplements I was taking pre-pregnancy were Vitamin B-12 because it’s nearly impossible to get while eating a vegan diet and vitamin D because I was diagnosed with a deficiency.

Because I eat a vegan diet, I regularly ask for all my levels to be checked and I’ve never been told I had any other deficiencies.

There really was no need to take a multivitamin because everything seemed to be in working order.

And of course I had seen all the news reports about the ineffectiveness of supplements or the fact that they didn’t even contain the ingredients that were claimed on the label.

Once you get pregnant though, the prenatal seems pretty non-negotiable.

So I drank the Kool-Aid, so to speak, and my doctor prescribed me a fancy prenatal that I laboriously selected based on the ingredients and the fact that it had a stool softener right in it.

citranatal

Fantastic.

That is until our insurance changed and the copay for my fancy prenatal shot up to $12o.00.

Oh, hells no.

So I fast tracked it to the vitamin shoppe and picked a prenatal with rainbows on the label and promises of “whole food” sourced vitamins and minerals, enzymes, an herb blend to support healthy pregnancy, and easily digestible iron all for about $10.99.

rainbow prenatal

Back that up.

I was sold at “easily digestible iron” because the last thing a pregnant lady needs is to be “backed up”  by tough -to- digest iron pills.

I left feeling quite pleased with my money saving prowess and started taking them as soon as the old script ran out.

I have been taking all of my pills at night just in case they caused any nausea or stomach upset.

A few days in, I felt myself feeling pretty energetic and was doubly pleased with my purchase.

Then things took a turn for the worse.

I slowly started losing my appetite and had all kinds of digestive issues.

The worse the digestive problems became, the worse my appetite was.

As a lady who likes to eat, and a babe that is quite dependent on it, I was getting pissed off.

I could go entire days doing nothing more than nibbling, snacking, and holding my gut in discomfort.

I’m not all that concerned about not getting enough to eat because I would eat despite the discomfort.

And I’m just not one to miss a meal (or snack).

But still, something wasn’t right.

I finally decided to take a closer look at the prenatal and discovered at had 30 grams of iron.

That is double the recommended amount.

Curious, I looked at the other sources of iron in my diet.

Fortified cereal was at the top of the list.

branflakes

When I was snack-ish or knew I just needed to get something in my belly, I would eat cereal.

And I was eating A LOT of it.

When I actually measured, I was eating as much as 4 cups a day.

The amount doesn’t concern me as much as the supplements I was getting as a bi-product.

Each serving contained about 50% of my daily iron needs or about 9 mg.

Wheaties nutrition label

So there’s another 32 mg. on top of the 30 mg. in my prenatal.

But we’re not done yet.

A while back, before I was taking a prenatal, I started adding blackstrap molasses to my coffee because it is a good, natural source of iron.

blackstrap molasses

Well, the habit stuck, so you can add another 3.5 mg. of iron to my day.

Not to mention the natural iron I was getting from whole wheat breads, enriched grains,  spinach, and green smoothies.

enriched bread

So now we’re up around 40 mg. of iron per day, which is about 22 mg. more than what is recommended.

Did you know iron in high doses can be poisonous?

It’s actually not surprising considering anything in excess can have negative effects.

I learned a long time ago to stay away from calcium supplements because they also gave me digestive upset.

That was kind of the start of my supplement cynicism.

I just have a hard time justifying synthetic nutrients unless there is a diagnosed deficiency.

And food supplementation is rampant.

Breads, non-dairy milks, orange juice, cereals, and tons of processed foods contain supplements to boost the nutritional value.

Orange juice

Well, that can really add up through the course of the day.

And it’s especially tricky when you think you’re choosing healthy foods like bran cereal, cheerios, and almond milk.

Silk-Almond-Milk

I think supplementing our food is unnecessary and at its worst, even dangerous.

It may have been necessary a hundred years ago when food was rationed or scarce, but this is not the case in 2015.

Nothing bad happened (that I know of) from taking the supplements but I certainly could have avoided a lot of belly aching,

And I’m not the only one.

Tons of women claim side effects from prenatal vitamins.

Is this not a sign that something is amiss?

I think we need to go back to eating real food and letting our bodies take care of business.

Here’s a handy chart of  natural sources of iron for vegans:

iron sources

But I understand the concern that women and people in general need to take vitamins for “insurance” purposes.

I don’t believe that, but refusing a prenatal is practically child abuse in our culture.

So, I’m on the hunt to find one that agrees with me.

I’ve got my eyes on a liquid supplement available through amazon that seems to contain just the right amount of vitamins and minerals.

liquid prenatal

Whatever that is, anyway.

If you’re into science experiments, and want to see if your breakfast cereal really has the iron that it claims, there’s a simple procedure you can follow to literally pull the iron out your morning O’s using a magnet.

You can check that out here.

Or if you’re like me and P-Daddy, you can just go over your breakfast bowl with a metal detector.

I shouldn’t have to tell you that the metal detector went crazy over a bowl of iron fortified cheerios and corn flakes.

cheerios

Neat, huh?

In non-ranting news, the bump is progressing nicely and my toes are becoming a distant memory.

I constantly get stopped by co-workers and aquaintances who  were unaware of the news and are quite surprised by the belly.

I imagine this is that perfect stage of pregnancy where the fat has been filled out, the bump is bumpin’, and nothing is too terribly big or uncomfortable.

I get some growing pains now and then but I try to recognize them for what they are and not freak out about every cramp, side stitch, and muscle spasm.

And by not freak out, I mean I tirelessly google every twitch and twinge and ask every lady friend I have if this is “normal.”

Exercise also has a new normal, but I found a routine that seems to be working.

It includes walking, yoga, and strength training but I like to think of it as “labor day” training.

Kristin-McGee-prenatal

Just trying to stay mobile and strong for the big event.

weights

Now that’s the kind of pumping iron I can get on board with.

25 weeks! 

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