Keeping your immune system strong during a pregnancy or when breastfeeding is important at any time but when seasons change, especially from Summer to Autumn and into Winter, keeping yourself feeling tip top can be more tricky.
Is Vitamin C safe to take in pregnancy? is a question I am often asked.
Guidelines suggest you should consume a normal amount of Vitamin C when you’re pregnant. The recommended daily amount is 85 mg for pregnant women with the maximum level being 2,000 mg per day. Certainly when I have felt a cold or a sniffle coming on I may increase my dosage but generally I try and “flush it through” with lots of hot lemon, ginger and cinnamon teas. My favourite is Pukka Three Ginger.
It is prudent not to take mega-doses of Vitamin C when you’re pregnant and some studies show that taking too much Vitamin C in the form of supplements during pregnancy may increase the risk of preterm birth, but always check with your Consultant or Midwife for your exact needs. Excessive Vitamin C can upset your stomach.
If you’re taking prenatal vitamins, check the amount of Vitamin C in that supplement. You should always be trying to consume naturally through the the foods you eat also. If you decide to take more, remember to keep the total under 2,000 mg.
Starting your day with warm water and lemon as well as eating a variety of colourful fruits and vegetables such as oranges, kiwi, red, orange or yellow peppers, or strawberries will give you the fibre to help your digestion and boost your C intake. Having sugars enter more slowly into your bloodstream by eating the whole fruit is preferable to fruit juice. Juice can be a very concentrated “hit” of sugars as well as Vitamin C and can lead to easy weight gain and sudden rushes to the head if you are not combining it with slow releasing carbs such as a muesli or porridge.
If you are craving juices I highly recommend making your own and making them more “green”. I love pear, mint or apple with spinach for a healthy hit. Cucumber is great in a juice to soften the sweetness and goes well with strawberries and kiwi. If I fancy something really sweet I eat pineapple or mango – fresh rather than dried as a rule. Dried fruit will absorb water from your gut as part of the digestion process so whilst it may feel you are drinking gallons of water you can still find yourself getting dehydrated. As with all eating habits, it’s moderation and some dried fruit as a quick snack is a good pick me up. Add pumpkin seeds for a nutritious and easy munch of goodness on the go.
If you do want to take a supplement definitely go with quality over quantity and check for fillers and the form for absorption. Just because the label advises the quantity in a product it doesn’t mean this is the exact amount your body will receive. It can seem like false advertising but the rules around vitamins are complex and cheap mass brands will only give you a base dosage. Seek advice from a professional nutritionist or speak to a health food store consultant who is well trained.