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  • Writer's pictureivydames

Do You Need Supplements?

As a nutritionist, I was naive enough to think that if you were diligent and had a well-balanced diet, you could get all of your essential nutrients. A few things in my coaching and personal experience have changed my mind.


In the 'before days' (pre-kids) I had a lot of luxury around what I ate and when I ate it. Want to try a new recipe that takes an hour- great! Need to prep something that takes a lot of chopping - sure! Now I realize, that as a parent, you have so many roles to fill, even when you have time to cook for yourself and your family, that doesn't mean you're always hitting your fruit/veggie goals, or getting enough whole goods in general.


The Evolution of My Perspective:

When I started coaching, I emphasized the importance of obtaining nutrients from whole foods, advocating for a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. I still stand by this, and the basis of my coaching still focuses on this, but I now know this just isn't always realistic for moms.


Understanding Dietary Gaps:

Moms, especially those of small children are working in a deficit. I read somewhere that it takes about 2 years to fully recover from pregnancy, postpartum, breastfeeding etc. These things take an enormous toll on your body and it's hard to catch up, and then layer in the fact that you're not sleeping and surviving on goldfish? OF COURSE you feel depleted.


The Value of Supplements:


This is where supplements can have added value and help address gaps in the short or long term. They are also really beneficial to help support the other efforts you're making in the weight room, the kitchen, or just generally towards your overall health.


Here's a closer look at some key supplements that I now recommend to my clients:


  • Protein: Adequate protein intake is essential for muscle repair, immune function, satiety, and metabolic regulation. I would LOVE it if you got all your protein from whole food sources, but you're busy and sometimes a protein powder or bar is really clutch to help you hit your goals.


  • Prebiotics and Probiotics: Gut health is linked to everything in the body and directly contributes to your overall well-being, digestion, immune function, and even mood. Prebiotics are non-digestible fibers that nourish beneficial gut bacteria - so this one you really should be getting from your food. Probiotics are also super beneficial and you can get them from fermented food which I recommend all of my clients eat on the regular. If you want an extra boost, incorporating a probiotic supplement can also help foster a healthy gut microbiome and support digestive health.


  • Iron: Are you tired? But like REALLY tired? Get your iron levels checked. Iron is crucial, a recent study showed that almost 50% of women become aenemic postpartum due to increased blood volume and iron loss during childbirth. I don't recommend clients start supplementation until confirming they are deficient, but if they are, this is a game-changer.


  • Vitamin D: Many people, including moms and their children, have inadequate vitamin D levels, which can affect bone health, immune function, and mood. If you live somewhere that it's dark most of the year (ahem - Seattle) - get yourself some vitamin D ASAP. It can also help with energy and brain function.


  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3s, particularly DHA, are often recommended during pregnancy for fetal brain development during pregnancy but the benefits for mom go beyond that including reduced inflammation, mood support and improvements in heart health.


How does it come together?

While supplements can play a valuable role in supporting health, they should not replace a nutrient-rich diet based on whole foods. My entire coaching philosophy is founded on prioritizing whole foods, so I encourage my clients to view supplements as complements to their dietary intake, filling in the gaps where needed. I know you're out there, doing your best, and we could all use a little help from time to time.



Disclaimer

I am not a medical doctor, and the information provided in this post is for educational purposes only. While I am a nutritionist with expertise in dietary supplements and nutrition, it's important to note that individual health needs may vary.

Before starting any new supplement regimen, especially if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have any underlying health conditions, it is crucial to consult with a qualified healthcare professional, such as a physician who can provide personalized advice based on your medical history, current health status, and individual needs.

Please remember that supplements are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, and should not be used as a substitute for medical advice or prescribed medications. Always follow the recommended dosage instructions on supplement labels, and discontinue use if you experience any adverse reactions.


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