Thursday, April 3, 2008

Homemade Prenatal Vitamins

I stopped taking prenatal vitamins a few pregnancies ago because I don't really feel comfortable with singled-out vitamins (out of their naturally occurring form, i.e. "food"). I looked around for a natural supplement as well, reading lots of ingredient lists and testimonials, but I either didn't like the company well enough to buy from them, or they included ingredients I felt would be harmful, so I struck out on that front as well.

As I was researching and making my personal list of what *I* would put in a prenatal supplement, if *I* were a manufacturer, it hit me that I had access to each of the ingredients. I could just purchase the bulk ingredients and make my own capsules. Eureka! So that is exactly what I did. Now, the disclaimer is that these may not be *your* list of what to put in a prenatal supplement, or any particular expert's list, but they covered my bases.

Here is what was on my list:

Alfalfa ~ Loaded with vitamins A, D, E and K, eight digestive enzymes, and numerous trace minerals. It is particularly helpful in late pregnancy because the vitamin K it supplies promotes proper blood clotting, thereby reducing the risk of postpartum hemorrhage.

Bee Pollen
~ contains more than 96 different nutrients, including every single nutrient that is needed to sustain human life. It is made up of 40% protein, nearly all of it usable by the body without any further breakdown or metabolism. Nourishing Traditions calls it a "super food".

Beet Root Powder
~ Beet root is a good source of minerals, particularly easy-to-assimilate iron. Beet root is also helpful in the digestion of fats, gallbladder infections, digestive problems, anemia, and for toning and rebuilding the liver. Contains beta-carotene, calcium, magnesium, vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), phosphorus, potassium, selenium, tryptophan, vitamin C, zinc and soluble and insoluble fiber and spleen function improvement.

Bull Kelp (Nereocystis Leutkeana) ~ excellent source of vitamins A, B's (especially B12), C, D, E and K as well as essential fatty acids. High in iron and chlorophyl as well as a wealth of other minerals like potassium, sodium, calcium, iodine, magnesium, sulfur, nitrogen, zinc, boron, copper, manganese, chromium, selenium, bromine, vanadium, and nickel.

Milk Thistle Seed ~ Milk thistle extract may protect the cells of the liver by blocking the entrance of harmful toxins and helping remove these toxins from the liver cells. Shonda Parker says this is the best supportive supplement for the liver in her opinion.

Norwegian Kelp (Ascophyllum Nodosum) ~ excellent source of vitamins A, B's (especially B12), C, D, E and K as well as essential fatty acids. High in iron and chlorophyl as well as a wealth of other minerals like potassium, sodium, calcium, iodine, magnesium, sulfur, nitrogen, zinc, boron, copper, manganese, chromium, selenium, bromine, vanadium, and nickel. Kelp as a source of iodine assists in making thyroid hormones, which are necessary for maintaining normal metabolism in all cells of the body. The U.S. population in general has shown a trend of significantly decreasing iodine intake, and I take it because we do not use iodized salt.

~ Calcium and magnesium rich, has silica, fiber, and trace nutrients. Also contains phosphorus and vitamins A, B1, B2 and E. Oats and oat straw help strengthen the nervous system and are considered nerve tonics. Rich in minerals, oats and oat straw also help build strong bones and teeth and strengthen capillaries and veins, and provides some support to those troubled by varicose veins and hemorrhoids.

Red Raspberry Leaf
~ tones the uterus and helps prevent miscarriage and postpartum hemorrhage from a relaxed or atonic uterus; rich in calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, potassium and vitamins B, C and E. This is the most frequently used herb for pregnancy, and has a long track record of benefit to the female organs.

Spirulina ~ Contains rich vegetable protein (60~ 63 %, 3~4 times higher than fish or beef ), multi Vitamins (Vitamin B 12 is 3~4 times higher than animal liver and is the best vegetable source of B12) and is rich in folic acid. It contains a wide range of minerals (including Iron, Potassium, Magnesium Sodium, Phosphorus, Calcium etc.), a high volume of Beta- carotene which protects cells (5 time more than carrots, 40 time more than spinach), high volumes of gamma-Linolein acid (which can reduce cholesterol and prevent heart disease).

After acquiring my ingredients, I powdered them all well in my blender. (Most of them I was able to buy already in powder form.) After they were all sufficiently powdered (small enough to fit easily into a capsule without hanging out over the edges), I mixed them well in a large bowl in the amounts I had planned. Measuring by weight, I added equal parts of everything listed above, with the exception of only a quarter part of the Bull Kelp. Next I began to make them into capsules.

(Are you as tickled as I am to realize that this is something we can make at home?)

Here is a basic photo tutorial of how to make the capsules from the company from which I bought the capsule maker and the ingredients. It really is very easy, and most of my Bigs (the older children) can do it alone, without any supervision. Even the younger children can "help Mom make vitamins for the baby" - they have so much fun! I keep the already-made capsules in a bottle with a (supposedly) child-proof cap, and the rest of the herbal mixture in a tightly sealed glass jar in the freezer. I only make enough capsules for about two weeks at a time, so I can keep the rest of the ingredients as fresh as possible.

I am really impressed with how much better I feel since beginning this supplement! My midwife is also thrilled with them, and has asked me to make them in bulk and sell them to her other patients. I don't really foresee that happening anytime soon, but it encouraged me that I was on the right track, anyway. OK, another disclaimer: surely you know that I am no doctor, other than a Dr. Mom. So, do your own homework, check with your own practitioner, etc, etc, bla bla, bla before you go taking advice from some stranger (namely Me) on the internet.

I also made my own herbal tincture as an iron supplement to help with my anemia, and these are the ingredients I added to it:

Dandelion Roots & Leaves ~ Both have tons of vitamins A and C, iron, calcium, potassium, folic acid, and many trace elements. The root is a specific remedy for the liver (remember, pregnancy is very hard on the liver). The leaf is a mild diuretic, which can reduce water retention during pregnancy - but...without depleting potassium stores like most diuretics.

Nettles ~ Vitamins A, C, D and K (which will increase blood's clotting ability and increases available hemoglobin, both of which decrease the likelihood of postpartum hemorrhage), calcium, cobalt, potassium, phosphorous, protein, folic acid, zinc, copper, vitamin B complex- especially B1 and B2 and carotenoids, biochelated iron and sulphur are particularly abundant, also aids the kidneys, and eases leg cramps. The leaves and stalks also provide smaller amounts of manganese, selenium, silicon and vitamin B3 (niacin).

Yellowdock Root ~ high in iron and aids in iron assimilation. This is the herb to use if anemia is unresponsive to other measures.

I hope you have fun researching and making your own supplements! It was exciting to me to have one more thing brought back home. We are becoming a little less of consumers with each choice like this that we make, and it feels really good.

Have a happy pregnancy!


  1. Are your caplets gelatin free?.. or rather pork free?

  2. Could you say more about the iron supplement that you have there? As in what is your reasoning and info source for choosing those particular herbs? I suffer from occasional anemia, without any pregnancy, and would very much like to find an additional source to add to my diet that is also healthy and gentle on the body.

  3. Congratulations on making your own herbal medicines, and now the supplements too...

    ok... now I have to be the voice of experience... did you measure and figure your amounts to be sure you are not overdosing/underdosing (for your condition, weight, and such), and are you using a gram scale to measure your amounts together?

    inquiring minds want to know..... ;-) and be sure you are making the medicine healthy for you and babe....

    ... as an aside, we are setting up our camp in the wildnerness to celebrate Pesach... can't wait to tell you about it!!!!

  4. what a great idea!! I made a herbal mineral tincture for my last pregnancy, but it never occured to me to actually make prenatals... what a genius :-)
    how did you determine how many capsules to take??

  5. Julie, did you check out the Supermom vitamins? (Or their cheaper copies?) I was wondering what all the commotion was about with these Supermom vitamins. People seem to love them, but what's the big deal? Are they made from whole food sources? I feel the same way as you about not trusting vitamins that have been "singled out". My husband read that they were actually not good for you, and told me to throw out my old (cheap store brand) prenatal vitamins. Is there any such thing as a vitamin that is made from whole foods?

    Just wondering. If our Father blesses us again, I may follow your lead :)



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