Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Pregnancy Notes: Whole Food Supplements




Whether you decide to do whole food supplements or not, really depends on your diet and how much wholesome food you take in to nourish yourself and growing baby.

What Are Whole Foods Supplements?
Sometimes it can be confusing to know what is real and what is synthetic. That's why it is so important to know your sources. I love what I take because they all come directly from food in nature, not chemicals made in a lab. Here's a good run down from Dr. Ben Kim on a few differences between the two:

  • The majority of commercial vitamins supplements are made up of synthetic vitamins.
  • Synthetic vitamins do not perform the same functions in your body as vitamins found naturally in whole food.
  • Many synthetic vitamins deplete your body of other nutrients and tax your kidneys before being excreted through your urine.

We also have to remember that taking whole food supplements cannot replace a poor diet. Your intake of vitamins and minerals should first come from the food you eat and whatever you are lacking to use whole food supplements.

Some midwives encourage whole food or food-based prenatal vitamins & supplements as insurance that mama and baby will get everything they need plus more. It makes sense why with how depleted our soils are these days and how many vitamins & minerals are lacking in our bodies. The nutrients in the soils are not the same as they were over 100 years ago.

Now, other midwives believe you can get all your nutrients, vitamins & minerals through the food you eat. Period. In some degree, I believe you can… but that’s if you are and have been eating a healthy, wholesome diet long before you became pregnant.

Which is why it is vital to start preparing your body now (if you are not pregnant yet or in between having babies) for making babies through wholesome foods (Check out Super Foods for Mama & Baby - coming soon!) and supplements. It takes time to restore your body after abusing it for many years through eating processed foods, pollution and improper care.

Making a baby is a lot of work for a mama's body and it is best to start "getting the house ready" by cleaning out your body with natural cleanses, a good diet (especially super foods!) and supplements (if needed) before the baby moves in!

Now, with all that said… I would like to share with you the whole food supplements I’ve taken with most all my pregnancies (and while breastfeeding too) and am taking today with Bebé Numero Cuatro.


Here are the 8 whole food supplements I take daily for a healthy & strong pregnancy (Note- I take my supplements throughout the day rather than taking it all at once, too much!):

Rainbow Light Pre-natal Multivitamin (once a day)
I've taken this food-based Rainbow Light Just Once Prenatal One Multivitamin since my second pregnancy and have been happy with it. I believe this multivitamin is the second best from the New Chapter Organics Perfect Prenatal. I would've liked to take the New Chapter Organics Perfect Prenatal, but found the price a little too much for our budget. Thankfully this one is less expensive, but good quality and has whole foods, herbs & probiotics to make them easy for the body to digest. Recently Rainbow Light has come out with an organic version of the Pre-natal Multivitamin... the price is a little higher, but not by much. I've always found Vitacost.com to have the best prices, but Amazon sometimes has good prices too!

I have also played around with the idea of making a homemade multivitamin powder using herbs and whole foods... Bulk Herb Store has something like that and it looks good! You can capsulate it, mix it with some juice or just throw it in your daily smoothie. I believe that would be the next step for me, pregnant or not. I figure doing a homemade multivitamin powder OR tincture would be great for my family's health overall!


Garden of Life Probiotics (3 - 6 pills daily)
A healthy gut flora is essential for a healthy pregnancy & birth! When babies are born naturally through the vaginal area, they get covered with whatever good & bad bacteria the mama has... setting them up for life with a colony of bacteria that can either make a healthy person or sickly person. That is why it is so important to have a healthy gut flora while pregnant. Probiotics also help keep urinary tract infections, yeast infections and Group B Strep at bay while boosting your immunity. 

I love Garden of Life's probiotics and I can feel it working. I have taken different brands of probiotics, but found G of L to be the best for our money. I use both their Ultra Ultimate Probiotics and Women's Raw Probiotics, but I also make sure to eat LOTS of probiotics through drinking homemade kefir & lacto-fermented foods. I have bought G of L on both Amazon.com and Vitacost.com... it just depends on who has the better price and free shipping!


Kelp (1-3 tsp of powder or 2 - 4 caps daily)
I just started taking Kelp with pregnancy #4 and have noticed an increase in my energy levels. Kelp is prized for its iodine content and an excellent source of of calcium, magnesium, sodium, chlorine, potassium, magnesium and other minerals including trace minerals.

I recently learned that tests done in Japan claim that Kelp can prevent fetus abnormalities! Taking Kelp during pregnancy is also good for normalizing glands, hormones and has a high mineral content. Finally, it acts as an antibiotic and assists the thyroid in releasing iodine into the blood stream when infection is present. Iodine fights infection, which helps prevent disease. This is good to know for those who may be at high risk of infection during pregnancy and/or birth...especially if you are doing a hospital birth.

I prefer to capsulate my own Kelp using fresh powder from Bulk Herb Store (the cheapest & most sure way you are get 100% kelp!), but you can get already capsulated kelp from any health food store or online. Vitacost.com has many great brands & prices too! (Here's my referral link to get a $10 off coupon on your first purchase)


Spirulina (2-3 tsp of powder or 4 caps daily)
I've taken this on and off throughout my 3rd and now 4th pregnancies, but after doing more research... realized that I need to be more consistent with taking this amazing stuff!

Spirulina is packed with a multitude of bio available vitamins including 4 times more B12 than most animal liver. Because it grows in a naturally alkaline environment, it is also comprised of a wide range of essential minerals such as iron, potassium, magnesium, sodium, phosphorus, calcium and so on. It is also an abundant source of Beta- carotene (40 time more than spinach), and gamma-Linolein acid.

And that's not all of it... Spirulina is a strong Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. It protects the cells, organs, and body tissues from oxidative stress along with stimulating the vitality of cells, in particular red corpuscles to insure proper oxygenation of muscle cells. It is also rich in proteins (18 amino acids), vitamins (E, B1, B2, B3, B12, and ET P), essential fatty acids, minerals, polysaccharides, and trace elements.

Taking spirulina during pregnancy, birth & nursing is great because it helps supports the immune system & joint health, protects & detoxifies the liver-kidney system and supports a healthy inflammatory response & neurological health.

I prefer to capsulate my own Spirulina and buy the powder from Bulk Herb Store (great prices, excellent quality products and good services... what can I say!). As you can see from the pictures above... I didn't capsulate those, but bought it on Vitacost.com for a great price a while back. I am almost out and will be going back to using the capsule machine! If you don't want to capsulate (not enough time or don't care), you can simply mix the Spirulina in some juice (same with Kelp). I find fresh orange juice to be the only way for me to swallow it down... it hides the taste really well.


Fermented Cod Liver Oil (2-3 tsp daily)
Yes, I'm sure most of you are cringing & making that yucky face :o)  Fermented Cod Liver may not be a favorite food for a lot of people (especially us mamas!), but it is essential for overall health. I take it because I know FCLO is vital for me and my baby during pregnancy & nursing (and for my family too!). If I could recommend only one (or two) supplements for you & your family, it would be Fermented Cod Liver Oil & Butter Oil (more in the next section). Let me tell you why...

FCLO is an excellent source of natural fat-soluble Vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids (EPA & DHA)... two nutrients that we often lack and DHA is needed for proper brain & nervous system function. If you want to prevent learning disabilities for your baby and growing children, feed them FCLO! It also has over twice the recommended daily amount of Vitamin D in just a half teaspoon. Vitamin D is crucial to fertility & pregnancy and studies show that up to 50% of women & most North Americans are deficient of this important vitamin. Vitamin D promotes proper development of the bones, especially during the 3rd trimester when the fetal skeleton begins to grow quickly. 

So, this amazing oil contain large amounts of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, preformed Vitamin A and sunlight Vitamin D!! All essential nutrients that are difficult to obtain in sufficient amounts in our diets today. Not only that, but it may also naturally contain small amounts of Vitamin K - the important bone & blood maintainer!

I highly recommend Green Pasture's Cod Liver Oil and is the only supplement (along with Butter Oil) I am willing to spend more on for my family, but some might not be able to afford this particular brand. Other brands that I have taken and recommend (but these brands do not have the benefits of the old-fashioned fermentation method) are Garden of Life Icelandic Cod Liver Oil, Carlson Norwegian Cod Liver Oil and Twinlab Norwegian Cod Liver Oil. I know some will say only Green Pasture and nothing else, but I rather encourage you take one of the other options then none at all! If you are going for an even cheaper brand (which I don't recommend), beware of synthetic vitamin A & D often added in and they can be toxic. I also highly recommend taking the liquid form, rather than the pill form because you can get more cod liver oil for less money. The pill form is always more expensive and you will have to swallow about 15 to 20 pills a day to get the recommended amount needed for pregnant mamas! I know you are wondering how in the world you are going to gag down cod liver oil... milk as been my best method for swallowing down the liquid. It helps wash & hold down the fishy flavor and I get less burbs afterwards. I also take it after a good meal.

I buy my Green Pasture Cod Liver Oil through a group buy-in, thus helping me and my family save money. The Green Pasture company often has great sales that pop up randomly at times, so I am always on the lookout to stock up whenever they do a sale. If you are wanting to buy the other recommended brands... again, Vitacost.com (the link is my referral code, which you can get $10 off on your first purchase) is the best place to get good prices! I know I am starting to sound like a broken record about Vitacost, but it is true! Amazon sometimes have better prices than Vitacost, but not always.


Butter Oil (1-2 tsp daily)
I learned a couple years back that when you are taking FCLO, it is best to also take it with High Vitamin Butter Oil for a more complete absorption of the Vitamin K (found in the butter oil) and Vitamins A & D (in the FCLO) to obtain the full benefits of both of these products.

Butter Oil is produced from cows eating 100% rapidly growing green grass which  produces high amounts of much needed Vitamin K & E. The X-factor in butter oil can improve your digestion, strengthen your immune system (contains antibacterial & antiviral properties), protect you from infectious disease and create healthy, strong bones & teeth. When combining the butter oil with fermented cod liver oil, it offers the strongest protection from colds, flu and other sickness and speed healing to the body. Read more on Contents & Benefits of High Vitamin Butter Oil.

Yeah... this stuff, along with FCLO, is amazing and excellent for the health of you and your growing baby! It is another thing I am willing to spend more on. Green Pasture is the only company that makes truly High Vitamin Butter Oil. I have been buying a different brand that costs much less, but we have to take much more to get the benefits and I am not totally sure if it provides all the benefits like Green Pasture's High Vitamin Butter Oil does. A little bit of their Butter Oil each day goes a long way!

Like the situation with fermented cod liver oil... I figure it was better to take some form of high vitamin butter oil then none at all, even if it is not from Green Pasture. I simply spread some on toast or eat it on a spoon topped with some honey.


Raw Apple Cider Vinegar (1 Tbsp daily)
I started taking Raw Apple Cider Vinegar more regularly after becoming pregnant again with my 4th. I had been taking it on & off before I was pregnant, but decided to get more consistent on taking it (and my family too!).

There are many reasons that Raw Apple Cider Vinegar is safe and healthy to take during pregnancy, according to Bragg's website: "It helps to rid the body of sludge toxins and may even help with any complications that may arise or have arisen with pregnancy. It also supports regularity & promotes digestion". But that's not all!

Raw Apple Cider Vinegar, even though it tastes acidic, actually helps the body to maintain the vital acid-alkine balance. Keeping our wombs & bodies more alkaline is important as it creates an environment that bacteria, fungus and viral infections cannot grow or survive. RACV is rich in Malic Acid, Beta-Carotene, Calcium, Potassium, Pectin, Acetic Acid, Ash and bacteria. All that helps support a healthy immune system, eliminate heartburn naturally, manage weight control, improve digestion, reduces joint pain & stiffness, clear up skin conditions, prevents food poisoning, can reduce bad breath, a natural remedy for diarrhea, reduces the appearance of cellulite and potentially helps to reduce the levels of glucose in the blood (thus controlling blood sugar levels!). This last one is good to know for pregnant mamas who have been diagnosed with gestational diabetics! 

The way I take my RACV is to mix it with a little water, a few drops of stevia (raw honey or maple syrup can be used too) and chug it down with a glass of water in my other hand ready to drink down. The stevia helps take the "edge" off of the that vinegary taste! You can also splash it on your salad or cooked food too. It is not necessary to keep your RACV in the fridge and best to store it out of light.

I like the Bragg Raw Apple Cider Vinegar, but I know there are other brands out there that are raw, unpasteurized and have the "mother" (very important for the anti-bacterial & fungal properties!).  


Coconut Oil (not pictured)
I almost forgot to include this VERY important food that I have taken daily since I first learned about the many benefits of eating coconut oil. I've taken coconut oil since my first baby, Naomi, was born and still taking it 6 years later!

Coconut oil is an excellent source of lauric acid (contains about 50%), which is a powerful anti-microbial fatty acid that protects the immune system of the mama, fetus and newborn. We pregnant & nursing mamas should eat coconut oil to increase the quality of our womb environment and breastmilk!

Coconut oil provides pregnant mamas & growing babies a rich combination of vitamins, minerals, fats and proteins that are so good for us! Our breastmilk contains about 45 to 50% saturated fat and 20% lauric acid & capric acid which is also found in coconut oil. Lauric & capric acid have potent antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal and antiparasiticidal properties that support the immune system. These amazing fatty acids give your nursing baby protection from illnesses, viruses (such as herpes & HIV), protozoa (such as giardia lamblia) and bacteria!

Research has found when a nursing mama adds foods rich in lauric acid (coconut oil!) to her diet, the amount of lauric acid available in her breastmilk increases greatly to levels 3 times the original level and nearly double the amount of capric acid. If you were to eat a single meal of coconut oil, it would greatly affect the breastmilk fatty acid structures for 1 to 3 days with the maximum increase happening during the first 10 hours. Amazing, right?

I simply take a spoonful every morning and afternoon. I also like to add it in my oatmeal and smoothies. I also often cook with it, but love to eat it straight from the jar! I'm sure you have figured about by now that I am all about saving money when it comes to buying needed supplements! I have found, again, Vitacost.com to have the best price anywhere for Nutiva Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil (that's my favorite brand, tastes delicious!). I have also bought Nutiva Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil from Amazon.com occasionally when their "subscribe & save" program provides a price that is lower then Vitacost.

What about you? Do you take whole food supplements? What do you take and why?

Note: Almost all the links up there are my affiliated links. When you make a purchase through those links... I get a small compensation and its no charge to you! Thank you for supporting me and my family by using the links to make your purchases  :o)

Linked up at Simple Lives Thursday & Monday Mania


24 comments:

  1. Thank you for this list! I have recently realized that I do not take enough FLCO for a nursing mom (only taking 2 capsules a day). I can't even eat fish, so the idea of taking the liquid is unbearable! Have you ever tried making your own capsules of FLCO? I'm hoping to find a way to do it because I think I can get more liquid into a capsule myself so I don't have to swallow 20 pills to get the recommended dose.

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    1. Christina - no, I have not capsulated my own FCLO, but I've been told you can do it! The only thing you will need to do is figure how much each cap holds to make sure you are getting the right amount. The already capsulated fish oil that you can buy are usually full and I don't know how you can do that without it spilling over.

      If you decide to go ahead and try, let me know how it goes and if you can get up to 3 tsp in less caps!!

      I've thought about doing it, but so far I've been fine (and my kids too) with taking the liquid and drinking it down with milk. Prayerfully that will last through the rest of my pregnancy and beyond! LOL!!

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  2. This is such a wonderful post/series! I am currently pregnant with #3, and am in the middle of my all-day sickness (have had it with all 3 so far, so nothing new!). Needless to say, I have NOT been getting a good diet in for me or my new baby :( I have found it very difficult to cook, which means our whole family is suffering. The supplements that you listed are very helpful-I am going to search online for them now! I am taking the Rainbow Light prenatal vitamin-so far the only prenatal vitamin I have been able to take without making me feel worse. I have been trying to get in good fats-coconut oil & grass-fed butter, but really need to start my family on the FCLO-something that has been on my "to-do" list for sometime. I feel really guilty on my lack of a good diet so far-I am hoping to feel better soon & get back on track...In the meantime, these supplements are a great start! Thanks !!

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    1. Hello Steph - don't feel too guilty! It happens and it is good that you are still motivated to move forward to improve your family's health. Take it one step at a time... you'll get there!

      I'm curious, will this be your last baby or are you guys still open to having more? I was thinking you should probably do a liver cleanse once your 3rd baby is done nursing. I've been running across a lot of research that is connecting overloaded liver to sickness associated with pregnancy along with many other things. So far, my morning sickness have been mild and short with all my pregnancies, but I have friends who get it bad and even have one who is pretty much sick her whole pregnancy (no fun). I am starting my husband on a liver cleanse tincture that I bought from Bulk Herb Store and plan to do it later when baby #4 weans off (hopefully!). I planned to do it after weaning off my 3rd baby, but that didn't happen because I became pregnant! LOL!! :o)

      Congratulations on being pregnant! Hope the sickness will fade out soon!

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    2. Thanks for the advice!! I have been reading the same thing about toxicity in the liver & morning sickness--definitely something to try! I nursed my youngest until about 15 mo. when she was ready to be done & was planning on trying one of the Garden of Life cleanses but I became pregnant with #3, which is wonderful! I am not sure if this will be our last-definitely open to more if the Lord wills, but I think I am going to once again plan to do some kind of cleanse when the baby is done nursing, should the timing work out! ;) With my 1st 2 girls, I was starting to feel better around week 12 which is in a few days so I am hopeful things will improve soon! :)

      Thanks, and congrats to you as well! :)

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    3. You and I have similar stories about making babies! LOL!! I pray that you will bounce back in a week or so. I know I felt yucky for a month or so. No fun for the family or me :o)

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  3. Girl, what a great post! I haven't been diligent lately with the FCLO and would like to start on the butter oil as well. I really want to start my kids back up on it as well. Do you give both to your kids? How much do you give them? Thanks Mare!

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    1. Thanks Diana! I know what you mean about the FCLO. I get good at taking it, then stop for a while, then start up again and so on. Sometimes I just need a break from taking my FCLO! LOL!!

      Yes, I do give FCLO to my kids (girls - liquids & Tobi - fish gummy). I've actually been giving them (the girls) anywhere from 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp of FCLO. With Tobi, I just give him the gummy fish when he wants it. I don't force it because I don't want to make it a bad experience with him. Green Pasture used to sell the gummy fish, but not anymore. My girls hated it, but I kept the containers (bought 4 because they were selling out, not making anymore... got them at a really good price!). Glad I did because Tobi loves eating them! LOL!!

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  4. Your post came at the perfect time! Thank you! I'm just at 8wks pg. with my second little one, and have been wondering what I should be taking. I asked my new midwives about FCLO, and neither of them had heard about it and were concerned about the high Vit. A content. I have been researching it, but there is so much conflicting info. After reading through your post though, I think I'm going to go for it. As a historian, real, traditional foods make too much sense to be ignored :)

    I'm intrigued by the info about kelp and spirulina, will definitely look into those as well.
    Thanks again ;)

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    1. Hello Sweetproerpina! Congratulations!! So glad this post was up in time for you :o) Yes, you don't need to worry about taking in too much Vitamin A as long as it is the real fat soluable vitamin, not synthetic. Also, the Vitamin D helps brings the balance for your body to absorb the Vitamin A properly.

      Yes, I was intrigued too when I learned the benefits of taking Kelp and Spirulina. If I were to chose one or the other... I would go for the Kelp as the iodine is so important!

      Again, congratulations and hope you have a good pregnancy!! Don't forget to look at my other posts from My Pregnancy Notes Series... I am working on the next post which will be about Super foods for mama & baby! Keep a look out for it :o)

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  5. Great post! I recently gave birth to our 8th baby at the age of 35. I can honestly say I never felt better. I did research based on the Making Babies series from Bulk Herb Store and made our own smoothie vitamin mix. I also took Garden of Life digestive enzymes and Blue Bonnet Liquid Cal Mag. When I remembered to take the cal mag, leg cramps disappeared! I had tons of energy, no back pain... Amazing! Best pregnancy ever! I contribute it to the power of prayer, first, and the leading of the Holy Spirit to eat foods that consistently flush toxins, cleanse my blood, etc and then add herbal smoothies for the vitamins, minerals, gentle detoxifying... And of course, staying active chasing babies and gardening kept me flexible and in shape and helped me get lots of fresh air. Also, a daily rest is essential for mamas to be. Do whatever it takes to make it happen.
    I'm going to look into the fermented CLO and butter oil.
    Thanks again for your post. Love your recipes too!
    Be Blessed!

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    1. Hello Laura! Thanks for sharing your experience!! Yes, it is amazing what diet and supplements can do to help improve pregnancy and birth... along with lots of prayer. I forgot about Cal Mag, but never really had a problem with cramps... but I do drink the Calm Mag tea which I know helps a lot with my muscles. Hmmm, should probably add that into the post later :o)

      Again, thanks for sharing!!

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  6. Im so excited to have discovered your blog. So much good info here! After loosing baby #3 at 17 weeks pregnant, Im hoping to try again soon but it's been a long healing process and my body just isnt bouncing back. I'm going to think about incorporating your suggestions for these supplements into/or replacing what I am currently taking.

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    1. Paige, so glad you are here and so sorry for your loss! I believe for you to add in FCLO and Butter oil would be the best thing because the Vitamin A along with the good fats will help your body heal, restore and prepare for another baby. I will pray for you!

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  7. If you do all those others, is a prenatal really that necessary?

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    1. You know, I've thought about that... I guess a prenatal wouldn't be totally necessary. There are some things that aren't in the other supplements... such as Vitamin C, Folic Acid and a few others I can't think on the top of my head right now. Those are important and you would either need to make sure you are eating plenty of food containing those or take whole food supplements.

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  8. My wife reads your site so I did some reading myself. Can you recommend a multi vitamin (and brand) and other vitamins/supplements that a Father can take for daily supplements. Im not sure what a male should take and how much I would need of each vitamin.

    Thanks!
    Mark

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    1. Hello Mark! Yes... my husband actually enjoys taking the Rainbow Light Men's multivitamin. I also recommend you taking all the other supplements I listed above. Same amounts. Even though this is a pregnancy post... the amounts don't change while pregnant or not.

      If you struggle with fatigue and need a boost... start taking Siberian Ginseng. I was able to get my husband off of coffee and taking this instead. Really helps, but if you are drinking coffee... expect a withdrawal period from the coffee addiction before the Siberian Ginseng really kicks.

      Also, if you take cod liver oil... you should do fine with 1 tsp. But it is always good to take 1 1/2 to 2 tsp for a good boost once in a while.

      Hope this helps! My husband and I basically take the same thing of everything... including my kids (smaller amounts though). The only difference is that my husband does not take probiotics daily like I do. I do it because of the pregnancy. He usually takes it once a week and when he starts to feel sick.

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  9. Thanks for this post! It gets really overwhelming trying to figure out what are the best supplements to take. One could easy spend hundreds of dollars a month buying everything recommended by various sources! I want to start getting my body ready to make baby #2, and this post is very helpful. Sounds like if I can't do it all at once I should start with FCLO/butter oil? I'm curious how you ultimately decided that these were the right things to take? Also, I'd love if you'd share the dosage amounts you use for your kids and at what age is good to start giving them. My daughter is only 7 months now.

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  10. the Mega Foods brand of vitamins and probiotics was recommended to me by a holistic nutritionist. Worth checking out!
    Love your blog, thanks!!

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  13. Can you tell me more about using spirulina and/or chlorella while nursing? I thought it wouldn't be okay to use those since I am nursing, because I always read that detoxing shouldn't be undertaken while nursing, since we don't want to dump those toxins into the baby via breastmilk. So I recently bought some spirulina for my husband to try (though I think the bottle is still sitting in the cabinet, unused!), but I haven't taken any myself out of concern for the detoxing issue. Can you shed any light on this for me? I definitely need energy while nursing and keeping up with a toddler!

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    1. Hello Tara! It is safe to take spirulina and chlorella while nursing because they do not force major detoxing... they simply aid the natural detoxing that happens daily (and should happen daily!).

      Doing a serious detox to force toxics out of your system would be what you want to avoid. Plus, the benefits of taking either supplement will carry into your breastmilk and nourish your baby and give you the energy you need.

      If you are still concern... please know that my nutritionist has told me this and I also have other mama friends who are on the same page with me. I have taken both supplements while breastfeeding my kids and they've never had a reaction and are doing wonderful.

      I totally understand the need for energy! LOL!! Blessings!

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