Other Supplements In Pregnancy
Other than folic acid, vitamin D and iodine and any supplement prescribed for you by your doctor, there is limited evidence to support the use of supplements during pregnancy.
Emerging research has shown that omega-3 supplements during pregnancy might help reduce the risk of premature birth, and that probiotics might help control blood glucose levels in pregnancy. But it’s not clear whether the benefits of taking these supplements outweigh any possible harms. Until there is better evidence available, it’s best to avoid them unless prescribed by your doctor â particularly in the first trimester of pregnancy.
Because nutritional supplements are classed as ‘complementary medicines’, they are not scrutinised or regulated as much as other medicines.
What Are Prenatal Vitamins
Prenatal vitamins are supplements made for pregnant women to give their bodies the vitamins and minerals needed for a healthy pregnancy. Your doctor may suggest that you take them when you begin to plan for pregnancy, as well as while youre pregnant.
Eating a healthy diet is always a wise idea — especially during pregnancy. It’s also a good idea to take a prenatal vitamin to help cover any nutritional gaps in your diet.
Pregnancy Vitamins And Nutrients
A balanced nutritious diet is the best way to receive the necessary vitamins and nutrients you need for pregnancy, but vitamin supplements can also be beneficial. Prenatal vitamin supplements are recommended plus any additional vitamins or minerals if your doctor finds any deficiencies. Remember, supplements do not replace a healthy diet, but rather ensure that a woman is receiving enough daily nutrients. And its important to note that pregnant women should take vitamin supplements onlywith a health care providers direct recommendation.
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When Should I Start Taking Prenatal Vitamins
In fact, its often best to take a prenatal vitamin every day if theres a chance you could get pregnant at all, even if youre not planning for it. Thats because crucial neurological development takes place during the first month of pregnancy, when folic acid would offer the most protective benefits.
I recommend starting prenatal vitamins as soon as you start thinking of trying to conceive. Ideally three months before conception, Dr. Nwankwo says.
If youre planning on breastfeeding, Dr. Nwankwo recommends you continue to take your prenatal vitamins for a minimum of about six months, if not throughout.
If youre already pregnant and havent been taking prenatal vitamins, no need to worry! Just start as soon as you can.
Tips For Choosing The Best Prenatal Vitamin
There are plenty of prenatal vitamin supplements on the market so how do you pick the best one? Your individual needs may differ, so its best to work directly with your doctor when deciding on the right prenatal vitamin for you.
In the meantime, here are a few tips to help you choose the best prenatal vitamin:
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The Benefits Of Prenatal Vitamins
The number one benefit of prenatal vitamins is supporting your babys health. Prenatal vitamins ensure your body has what it needs as your baby grows and develops, filling any gaps that might be in your diet.
Prenatal vitamins lower your babys risk of congenital conditions like spina bifida and developmental conditions like autism. When you take prenatal vitamins throughout pregnancy, they can also help prevent preterm birth and low birthweight.
Women of reproductive age who are pregnant or considering pregnancy should take prenatal vitamins. If youre thinking about getting pregnant, its a good idea to start a prenatal vitamin regime before conception. A babys neural tube develops in the first month of pregnancy, and that could be before you even know youre pregnant.
Take the recommended dosage of all vitamins and supplements during pregnancy. Taking more than necessary wont provide extra health benefits, and high doses of certain vitamins can harm your or your babys health.’
Taking prenatal vitamins while youre pregnant helps give your baby the healthiest possible start to life, and its never too early or too late to start. Schedule a prenatal appointment with Dr. Van Kirk at 530-242-4129 or send us a message online to learn more.
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What Steps Can You Take To Get Vitamin D
You can begin by making an effort to eat more vitamin D containing foods. Next, research suggests sensible sun exposure can help as well.
However, the best way to really ensure adequate vitamin D is through simple supplementation. When supplementing, your choices will be between two forms of vitamin D. Ergocalciferol is the vegetarian form of vitamin D and cholecalciferol is the animal-sourced form, usually derived from fish liver oil or lanolin from sheep.The cholecalciferol form is the most absorbable and utilized form for the body, but if you are vegan you should choose ergocalciferol. Quality is important. We recommend Nordic Naturals Vitamin D3 in the natural form cholecalciferol form.
The carrier oil is organic, extra virgin olive oil and they come in small, soft gels that are very easy to swallow. We also recommend Nordic Naturals Prenatal DHA with added vitamin D3 . This product provides two of the most important nutrients for pregnant women backed by a long-standing, reliable company that guarantees optimum purity, quality and freshness.
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How Do You Promote A Healthy Pregnancy In Tandem With A Prenatal Vitamin
First, it must be repeated that diet should be the primary source of nutrients and prioritized as such. Healthy whole foods like vegetables and fruit contain much more than just the common vitamins and minerals we all know about, explains Marlowe. They also contain powerful antioxidants and beneficial phytochemicals that work synergistically to support our health, as well as fiber which aids digestion. Additionally, keeping blood sugar stable is especially important during pregnancy. Nausea can be caused by low blood sugar, so protein, whether organic animal protein or plant-based, is important, says Marlowe. Make sure you have enough, especially at night, to help balance blood sugar.
What Is Vitamin D
Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. It also helps your bodys nerves, muscles and immune system work. Your immune system protects your body from infection. Vitamin D helps your babys bones and teeth grow.
During pregnancy, you need 600 IU of vitamin D each day. You can get this amount from food or your prenatal vitamin. Good sources of vitamin D include:
- Fatty fish, like salmon
- Milk and cereal that has vitamin D added to it
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What Is Folic Acid
Folic acid is a B vitamin that every cell in your body needs for healthy growth and development. Taking folic acid before and during early pregnancy can help prevent birth defects of the brain and spine called neural tube defects . Some studies show that taking folic acid may help prevent heart defects and birth defects in your babys mouth .
- Before pregnancy take a vitamin supplement with 400 mcg of folic acid every day.
- Take a vitamin supplement with 400 mcg of folic acid each day, even if youre not trying to get pregnant.
- During pregnancy, take a prenatal vitamin each day that has 600 mcg of folic acid in it.
Check the product label to see how much folic acid is in it.
If youre at high risk for having a baby with an NTD, talk to your provider about how you can safely take 4,000 mcg of folic acid each day to help prevent an NTD. Start taking 4,000 mcg at least 3 months before you get pregnant and through the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Youre at high risk if:
- Youve had a pregnancy with an NTD in the past.
- You or your partner has an NTD.
- Your partner has a child with an NTD.
Dont take several multivitamins or prenatal vitamins. You can get too much of other nutrients, which may be harmful to your health. Your provider can help you figure out the best and safest way for you to get the right amount of folic acid.
What Are Vitamins And Supplements
Vitamins are organic compounds needed in small amounts that your body can’t make for itself. Apart from vitamin D, which your skin makes from sunlight, most of the vitamins you need come from food.
Dietary supplements are complementary medicines which contain nutrients that may fill a deficiency in your diet. Examples include multivitamins, single minerals, fish oil capsules and herbal supplements.
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Nature Made Prenatal Multivitamin
|Buy on LuckyVitamin|
Ingredients: The Nature Made Prenatal contains essential vitamins and minerals, including folic acid, calcium, iron and vitamin D. These vitamins provide 200 milligrams of DHA to support fetal brain and eye development, making them ideal for pregnant women and women trying to get pregnant.
What we like: Nature Made Prenatal multivitamins are free of preservatives, synthetic dyes and gluten, and the company states its Prenatal Multi + DHA multivitamin is clinically proven for absorption into the body.
What to consider: While these prenatal vitamins offer complete prenatal multivitamin support, they do have a strong smell that many LuckyVitamin reviewers found unpleasant or fishy.
Figure Out If You Can Stomach It
Once you choose your prenatal vitamin, you might find you have a tough time stomaching it. The most common reasons :
- If you have trouble swallowing it, look for a pill with a slicker coating. You may want to consider a pill sans calcium, since they tend to be smaller . If you do, be sure to talk to your practitioner to be sure you get enough of this essential mineral in other ways. You might also want to try a chewable or liquid prenatal vitamin .
- If your prenatal vitamin makes you feel nauseous, try taking your vitamin with a meal or snack or right before you go to bed. Still having trouble? Ask your doctor to recommend a different brand that you may be able to stomach better or one with more B6, which can curb nausea and morning sickness.
- If youve got constipation, diarrhea or gas, it could be the extra iron in your pill. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids, eat fiber-rich foods and include regular physical activity in your daily routine. If this doesnt relieve your stomach woes, talk to your doctor about alternatives .
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Why Prenatal Vitamins Are Important
During your pregnancy, your bodys nutritional requirements are different than at other times, and prenatal vitamins are designed for the specific needs of pregnant women. For example, prenatal vitamins have more iron, calcium, and folic acid than regular multivitamins. Folic acid, in particular, is an important part of any diet, but it is imperative for the pregnant woman. Folic acid is proven to be a crucial factor in preventing neural tube birth defects, which is why it is recommended that all women of child bearing age take a folic acid supplement, and also why pregnant women need to take more than the general population.
What Pregnant Women Dont Need
Iron is often another suggested supplement for pregnant women who sometimes experience anemia when the body doesnt have enough red blood cells.
Iron can help this condition, but not all women need it. Iron supplementation can also cause stomach irritation, constipation, or diarrhea.
Other vitamins contained in multivitamin supplements like vitamins A, C, and E, lack evidence to suggest their effectiveness in helping mother or child.
This isnt to say that some women may benefit from these vitamins, but there isnt enough research to suggest all pregnant women need to take them.
For most women who are planning to become pregnant or who are pregnant, complex multivitamin and mineral preparations promoted for use during pregnancy are unlikely to be needed and are an unnecessary expense, the DTB paper concludes.
While women in developing countries may lack these important nutrients in their diets, women in countries like the United Kingdom and United States have access to these vitamins through their diets.
The best way to get necessary nutrients is through the foods we eat, not necessarily through a supplement industry that has little and loose oversight by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration .
Expectant mothers want the best for their child is a point proven in marketing language, researchers say.
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Folic Acid Before And During Pregnancy
Its important to take a 400 micrograms folic acid tablet every day before you’re pregnant and until you’re 12 weeks pregnant.
Folic acid can help prevent birth defects known as neural tube defects, including spina bifida.
If you did not take folic acid before you conceived, you should start as soon as you find out you’re pregnant.
Try to eat green leafy vegetables which contain folate and breakfast cereals and fat spreads with folic acid added to them.
It’s difficult to get the amount of folate recommended for a healthy pregnancy from food alone, which is why it’s important to take a folic acid supplement.
Best Prenatal Vitamins To Buy Over The Counter
These vitamins offer the best nutrients to support a healthy pregnancy.
All products and services featured here are selected by Everyday Health’s commerce team and chosen for their potential to inspire and enable your wellness. Everyday Health may earn an affiliate commission on items you purchase.
Maintaining a healthy diet is always important, but it becomes even more important before and during pregnancy, as what you eat is also the source of nutrients for the baby.
Although most of your nutrients should come from the foods you eat, it is a good idea to take a prenatal vitamin supplement to fill in potential gaps. Early in pregnancy, particularly with nausea and food aversions that are common in the first trimester, a woman may not eat a balanced diet, says Cynthia C. Gyamfi-Bannerman, MD, ob-gyn at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center. Prenatal vitamin supplements contain all the recommended daily vitamins and minerals you will need before and during your pregnancy, according to the American College of Gynecologists and Obstetricians .
Some of the nutrients that are particularly important before and during pregnancy include folic acid, iron, and vitamin D. Folic acid helps prevent neural tube defects when taken before pregnancy and during pregnancy, according to the ACOG, and they recommend that women consume 400 micrograms of folic acid a day.
The Importance Of Prenatal Nutrition
Meeting your daily nutrient needs during pregnancy is necessary to keep up with your rapidly changing maternal metabolism.
Of course, maternal nutrition is essential for healthy fetal growth and development. In fact, theres growing research that suggests the effects of prenatal nutrition can trickle into adulthood.
For that reason, its important to learn about necessary vitamins for pregnant women, as well as additional supplement and macronutrient needs.
Which Nutrients Impact Prenatal Development Most In A Prenatal Vitamin
Four micronutrients are critically important to prenatal development. The first is folic acid because it supports your baby’s brain and spinal cord development and prevents neural tube defects in your developing baby.
Calcium is essential during pregnancy because, just like you, your baby needs calcium to grow strong bones and teeth. If you aren’t getting enough calcium, your growing baby will take it directly from your bones, putting you at risk for osteoporosis later in life.
Iron ensures proper blood oxygenation and that your blood is supplying your baby with all the oxygen he or she needs to grow healthy and strong. Iron can also prevent you from developing anemia, which will make you feel even more fatigued than you already do!
Iodine is another essential nutrient for prenatal development that helps develop your baby’s brain and nervous system and regulates your baby’s metabolism.
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Supplements To Take During Pregnancy
In addition to the vitamins and nutrients discussed above, here are two of the best supplements to take while pregnant.
OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS
Doctors will often encourage their pregnant patients to take a fish oil supplement. Heres why.
Why theyre important: Omega-3 fatty acid stores tend to deplete quickly throughout pregnancy. Fortunately, omega-3 fatty acids provide DHA, one of its most biologically active acids.
DHA can help ease the risk for an early preterm birth . Additionally, low DHA levels can influence changes in brain function. Consequently, this can lead to genetic variations, decreased learning abilities, and impaired vision.
The benefits of taking omega-3 fatty acid extend to postnatal nutrition, too. Researchers suggest that rapid depletion of fatty acids during pregnancy and breastfeeding can contribute to the baby blues. In turn, taking this healthy omega can have a positive influence on maternal well-being.
Food sources of omega-3 fatty acids include:
- cold-water fish
- plant oils
The ACOG recommends that pregnant and breastfeeding women eat at least two servings of fish or shellfish per week. However, pay special attention to avoid raw or undercooked fish. Additionally, you should also avoid fish with high mercury levels while pregnant.
That said, talk to your doctor about incorporating a high-quality fish oil supplement into your prenatal plan if you suspect youre getting enough DHA.