Like so many holistic practitioners, Mirelle Leguia’s health journey began after experiencing health issues and not finding relief through traditional routes. During her own postnatal experience and suffering from such common symptoms like severe fatigue, recurring mastitis, hormonal imbalances, immune dysfunction and gastrointestinal issues, she decided to take matters into her own hands and start Mother Nutrient. Mothers are depleted of nutrients and as we know, find it hard to take time to care for yourself and get all of the nutrients you need from food alone. Mother Nutrient offers targeted nutrients that so many of us are lacking in pre and post natal. We were lucky enough to have Mother Nutrient as our Mother’s Lounge sponsor at Current Conference and hear her speak on a panel, but we knew we were just skimming the surface on what she could teach us about our health. Mirelle is here to share the most frequently asked questions she received from her audience. Interested in learning more about your nutrient needs? Take this quick, 3 minute quiz and get a personalized nutrition report from a holistic nutritionist, plus target diet, lifestyle, and supplement recommendations.

How did Mother Nutrient come to be?

Mother Nutrient was born out of my own personal health needs. I had a complicated pregnancy with hyperemesis gravidarum (extreme nausea and vomiting), which left me very nutrient depleted. Once my baby was born, I continued to experience health challenges during the postpartum period. I searched for answers and tried so many different treatments, but it wasn’t until I discovered that I was deficient in multiple nutrients and adressed these deficiencies, that I started to feel much better and regain my health. I decided then to leave my career in marketing and go back to school to study holistic nutrition at Bauman College. Through my studies and my own coaching experience, I learned that nutrient depletion (or maternal depletion) is all too common in mothers nowadays. In fact, it is believed that over 80% of mothers are nutrient depleted! I decided that my mission would be to help women enjoy their motherhood journeys by helping them reclaim their health instead of spending these precious years trying to figure out what is wrong while feeling exhausted and depleted.

Why is there so much emphasis on pre natal vitamins but not post natal?

There is a ton of research about the importance of good nutrition during pregnancy and how certain nutrient deficiencies affect the baby in utero. We’ve all heard about taking folate to avoid spina bifida, or DHA to boost baby’s brain health, etc, but there aren’t as many studies when it comes to maternal health during the postpartum period. For the ones that do exist, most of the research and care focuses on the baby and not the mother. This puzzled me because moms actually need MORE nutrients in the postpartum period compared to during pregnancy, especially if mom is breastfeeding.

I think a large part of it has to do with our culture that focuses on the baby after birth while the mother is often forgotten. Just think about how many postpartum appointments babies have compared to mothers. While babies have checkups every month and eventually every other month moms get one postpartum check-up at 6 weeks and that’s usually it.

Other cultures around the world have traditions that provide a special diet and support system for new mothers to ensure that she is well rested and nourished. I believe we have a lot to learn from that sentiment, and I think a good starting point is making sure mom has all the nutrients she needs.

Now, there are several nutrients that you are most likely deficient in, because the majority of the US population is: omega 3’s, vitamin D and probiotics. Most new mothers are also low in iron after birth, especially after a C-section. I recommend that every mother takes:

  • A probiotic
  • An Omega 3 supplement with DHA and EPA in similar ratios
  • A multi vitamin / mineral that contains vitamin D3 and active forms of B vitamins

The amount of nutrients you need increases about 20% as you transition from pregnancy to postpartum. What you need also depends on what symptoms or conditions you are dealing with during this time. For example, if you have postpartum depression or anxiety, it would help to increase your omega 3 and vitamin D intake. If you had a C-section, you probably need to increase your iron, help your wound heal with extra collagen, and rebuild your gut bacteria after taking antibiotics by taking a probiotic, and so on. 

How do I know what makes a good supplement?

The problem with the supplement industry is that it’s not regulated by the FDA, which means it’s very important for the consumer to be informed and know what to look for. You want to make sure that what you are ingesting is safe, so make sure you choose a brand with a GMP certified manufacturing facility that also does third party testing. You also want to make sure the supplement has the right quantity and quality of ingredients. I see so many brands out there that claim they contain all the essential nutrients, but the quantities are so low that taking them probably won’t make a difference.

Finally, the quality of the ingredients matters a lot. Not all forms of vitamins, minerals, herbs, and probiotics are created equal. You want to make sure that you are taking the most absorbable forms of nutrients. Some examples include: methylated B vitamins, folate instead of folic acid (which is the synthetic form), Vitamin D3 as opposed to D2, chelated iron, DHA that comes with EPA, etc. It’s even better if your supplement includes co-factors or ingredients that aid with absorption, like black pepper or if it’s a fat soluble vitamin, that it comes with oil or fat for better absorption.

How can you tell? Price is a big indicator, if the supplement is super cheap, it’s probably using synthetic and cheap forms of nutrients. Also, check the nutrition facts panel to see the forms of nutrients that are listed by the manufacturer and the added components.

The best labs that produce high quality supplements usually don’t sell directly to the public and instead work with doctors, dietitians, and nutritionists. I created my supplement line by working directly with these labs to ensure the best product quality.

Collagen, Ashwagandha, and saffron are all buzzy words. What do they each do and why are they each important?

Yeah, these are becoming very popular now, but for good reason!

Collagen is a protein found in your skin, hair, nails, joints, bones, and connective tissue. It’s kind of like the structural scaffolding of your body. It also helps to restore your gut lining for better digestion. As we get older, our collagen production decreases, making our skin, hair, nails, and joints less firm and elastic. Mothers in particular require more collagen because of all the changes to their tissues and skin during pregnancy and the recovery period after birth.

Traditional cultures eat animals from nose to tail, which includes lots of collagen-rich sources like connective tissue, skin, and cartilage, but nowadays, we mainly stick to eating muscles, which are missing this important protein. Bone broth, which has become super popular in recent years, does contain collagen from bones and connective tissue. Some people don’t like it or don’t eat enough of it, hence the popularity of collagen peptide powders and capsules. We recently launched our new and improved multi-collagen capsules that contain 5 types of collagen with 1,000 mg per capsule.

Ashwagandha is an ayurvedic herb that has been used for thousands of years. It is a personal favorite for me because of its anti-stress properties. When we are in a stressful situation, we secrete a hormone called cortisol, which trigers the famous fight-or-flight response. While cortisol helps the body “get ready for battle” or for fleeing, it has several unpleasant side effects: blood sugar increase, fat storage increase, immune system suppression, and more. Ashwagandha has been shown to decrease cortisol levels up to 30% and therefore reduces not only your stress response, but also its negative side effects. People who take Ashwagandha have reported better sleep, reduced anxiety and depression, better mood, fat loss, muscle gain, better blood sugar regulation, and many more positive outcomes. Because cortisol supports the developing fetus during pregnancy, Ashwagandha is not recommended for pregnant women. If you are interested in trying it, look for a supplement like ours, made with organic Ashwagandha, that has at least 600 mg and includes black pepper to aid its absorption.

Saffron extract comes from the stigma of the saffron crocus flower. Some of the properties of saffron extract include that it enhances mood, promotes energy, improves blood circulation, decreases food cravings, and contains powerful antioxidants.

I like to recommend Saffron extract as a first tool to use when mothers experience depression because it has been shown to be effective in lifting mood without the side effects that antidepressants typically have. A research study looking into the effects of saffron extract in a population of mothers with mild to moderate postpartum depression found that 8 weeks of taking  15 mg of powdered saffron per day resulted in a 96% remission rate, which was more than twice that of the control placebo group. It also helps with major depression; an analysis of several saffron studies concluded that “saffron supplementation can improve symptoms of depression in adults with major depressive disorder.”

The other great attribute of not having anxiety and feeling more calm and relaxed is that you don’t feel the need to stress eat or constantly munch and snack, so people have reported decreased appetite and successful weight loss when taking Saffron Extract. No wonder why saffron is our bestselling supplement.

Do you recommend probiotics for every member in the family?

I do! And I’m so glad you asked about this! I could talk about probiotics all day because they are just amazing! Most people think that probiotics primarily help with digestive issues, which is true, they do, but they do so much more. 70%-80% of our immune system lies within our gut, so probiotics can help boost your immune system, big time. So if you’re wondering how to boost your or your child’s immune system, try this first.

There is also, a lot of new research looking into the different strains of probiotics and the benefits each of them has for our bodies. There are probiotics that help clear yeast infections, others that help prevent mastitis, some that help lift your mood and so on. A particularly interesting one is a set of 9 strains called Ecologic BARRIER, which has been clinically shown to improve mood, in particular reducing reactivity to aggressive and ruminative thoughts in adults with depression or anxiety.

Probiotics are critical for women who have taken birth control, antibiotics or who have had a C-section. But really, all mothers would benefit from them, and their babies, too! One study compared two groups of mothers and their babies’ health outcomes. One group took a placebo, and the other group started taking probiotics 4 weeks before their due date and continued to take them for 6 weeks after birth. Babies from the mothers who took probiotics had significantly less colic and digestive issues, as well as a 27% reduction in the risk of eczema. I don’t know of a mother with a colicky baby who wouldn’t give this a try if they knew about it. This is why our line offers probiotics for mothers and for babies.

What are some triggers that post natal mamas should avoid? Caffeine, certain foods? 

Everyone is different when it comes to food sensitivities. Because your digestive organs physically shift during pregnancy, your digestion can be affected. I recommend that new mothers support their digestion by eating lots of soups and stews with slowly cooked meats and vegetables.

In terms of breastfeeding, some babies are sensitive to dairy, gluten, caffeine, alliums (garlic & onion families) but again every baby is different, so mom should pay close attention to what she eats and how her baby responds.

I eat a pretty balanced diet, why do I still need to take supplements?

A nutrient dense diet should be the basis for health. However, there are several reasons why eating a healthy diet might not be enough:

  • Pregnancy and postpartum are critical times in terms of nutrient needs, during which you actually need 30-80% more nutrients than before having children. For most women, it can be very challenging to get all these extra needed nutrients from food alone.
  • Who has time to plan every meal and make sure it contains all the nutrients needed, every day? Most mothers have so much going on, they tend to eat on the go and whatever they can get their hands on.
  • Several studies reveal that the soil in the United States has lost almost half of its original vitamin and mineral content due to modern farming methods. Most foods bought at the supermarket have only a fraction of the nutrient content compared to food from a few decades ago. We would need to eat two apples nowadays to get the nutrition from one apple in the 50’s.
  • Absorption might be challenging during pregnancy and post-babies because of all the changes the digestive system goes through. Your intestines (where nutrients are absorbed) might be slow, inflamed from being compressed and moved during pregnancy, and your microbiome changes, which can take years to normalize.
  • It takes nutrients to detoxify from the presence of air and water pollution, which is now commonplace in most of the industrialized world. That means if you live in a city, you need lots of extra nutrients in order to detox from all the pollution.

I have issues with digestion and absorption, so I prefer to take all-natural products, foods and herbs instead of taking manufactured supplements. Which do you recommend?

Mother Nutrient offers a variety of herbs and superfoods in addition to our line of vitamins and minerals. We can support you, however you choose to improve your nutrition. One of our best sellers is desiccated grass-fed beef liver, because it is considered to be “nature’s multi-vitamin”. Liver is a true superfood in that it contains so many essential vitamins and minerals in high quantities, that are easily absorbed. Many people dislike the taste or don’t know how to begin to incorporate liver in their diet, so we’ve made it easy to get all the benefits of liver without eating it, by taking capsules instead. Fish oil is another example of a superfood nutrient that we offer in a convenient softgel.

What is the one supplement every woman should take? 

If I had to pick one it would be a multivitamin/multimineral complex, and I would make sure it has Omega 3’s. But I would also highly recommend a women’s probiotic, and for me, I could not live without my Ashwagandha. It really helps me stay calm and collected to face the challenges of the day. 

For more on Mirelle and Mother Nutrient, follow her on Instagram at Mother Nutrient