Melissa’s Story

Melissa is 30 weeks pregnant today.  For those who don’t know, she has won my Biggest Contest Ever, which includes continual nutrition coaching throughout her pregnancy.  We are nearing the end of her prenatal journey as she prepares to meet her baby!  If you would like to read previous blog posts about Melissa, CLICK HERE.

Melissa Blog Photo Jan 2015 (2)

Melissa’s baby bump at 30 weeks


*Every individual is unique and will have different nutritional needs. The recommendations I make for Melissa may or may not benefit other women who have similar experiences. The nutritional advice given to Melissa is based on a specific, detailed health and lifestyle assessment. They will not apply to every pregnant woman. If you are interested in a personal assessment for yourself, please send an e-mail to

Melissa’s assessments and recommendations are much more detailed than what is in this blog post. Here, I am sharing her most important issues and some random topics. The information that is shared between us is extensive and continual.

Melissa has not had any serious issues or concerns during her pregnancy so far.  However, she has recently been informed by her midwife that her iron levels are low.

Iron is one of those nutrients in which more is needed during pregnancy.  The Recommended Dietary Allowance according to Health Canada increases from 18 to 27 mg per day (source).

I previously provided Melissa with a list of iron-rich foods to include in her daily diet.  Foods like pumpkin seeds, cashews, beef, liver and quinoa are on this list.  Since she is now low on iron, it’s important to take a few extra steps to increase her levels.  She can do this a few different ways.  First, I recommend she include food sources of iron with almost every meal and snack.  Second, she should be supplementing daily with a good quality prenatal vitamin.  One thing I will mention briefly about vitamins and supplements is that they are not all good for you.  Don’t be fooled into thinking that any prenatal vitamin will provide you with what you need during pregnancy.  Some brands have unnecessary binders and fillers, some contain sugar and artificial sweeteners, and some even contain toxic heavy metals like lead and mercury.  I will confirm that Melissa is currently taking prenatal vitamins that I would not recommend and she is now switching to a higher quality brand.  I don’t know if her iron levels are low because of her supplement choice, but I believe it’s possible.

In addition to iron-rich foods, and quality prenatal vitamins, there are a few more ways Melissa can improve her iron absorption.  She should increase her intake of heme iron foods, which is only found in animal sources (beef and liver are best).  Non-heme iron is found in vegetarian sources like beans and legumes, leafy greens and quinoa.  By combining heme with non-heme sources, the non heme iron will be better absorbed.  She can use a cast iron skillet to cook her food.  Not only will a cast iron skillet add iron to the food that’s being cooked, but it is non-toxic (please, if you are pregnant or trying, do NOT use pans with a non-stick coating).  It should be noted that long-term excessive use of a cast iron skillet may cause iron toxicity (too much iron).  Caffeine will interfere with the absorption of minerals like iron and calcium, so do not drink coffee or tea with meals.  Iron competes with calcium and zinc for absorption, so it’s best to eat foods high in these nutrients separately.  Vitamin C, on the other hand, will increase iron absorption.  Food lists of all these nutrients have been provided to Melissa so that she can decide which combinations she will try.  But, to give an example, a good boost of iron could be Swiss chard sautéed with garlic and butter or coconut oil in a cast iron skillet, served with quinoa and some beef and/or liver.  Add tomatoes, bell peppers and hummus for extra iron and vitamin C.

Please feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail if you have any questions.

I will follow up with Melissa in February for her next blog entry.

If you would like to be notified when I post my next blog about Melissa, you can sign up for my e-mail list HERE. To thank you for signing up, I will send you my free offer, “You and Your Baby: 7 Simple Steps to Achieving a Healthy Pregnancy and Happy Baby.”


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