Dha And Healthy Development Of The Fetus
DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid, is one of the key building blocks for fetal development. During pregnancy the fetus obtains DHA through the mother, and it is imperative the mother has adequate DHA stores to support both her and her developing babys needs. If mom already has a low DHA status, the fetuss reliance on her for DHA can put her at a heightened risk for DHA deficiency, and importantly, place her baby at risk of missing out on some of the nutrients key benefits. To learn more about the multitude of DHA benefits during pregnancy see Why Do I Need DHA During Pregnancy?.
Pregnant women need a minimum of 300 mg of DHA a day. Because many prenatal vitamins do not contain DHA, this means pregnant women need to obtain their daily minimum through fatty fish or fish oil. Given that pregnant women are advised to limit consumption of low-mercury fish to 2-3 times per week, incorporating a fish oil supplement containing at least 300 mg/d can help support your DHA needs if your prenatal is lacking. However, your individual needs may not be met by 300 mg/d, making it important to talk to your doctor and get tested. You can determine your needs through a simple blood test to find out what dose is best for you.
What Form Of Prenatal Vitamin Is Best
There are a variety of types of prenatal vitamins you can choose from and it doesnt matter which you take. If you look at an ingredients list comparing tablets, capsules and even gummies, the components will be pretty similar, King says.
Checking the ingredients is important, too, to make sure youre getting everything you need. Most gummies dont contain iron, King says, since young children may try to snag some thinking theyre candy and too much iron is dangerous for children.
What Vitamins Need To Be In Them
Its important to remember that each person has slightly different nutritional needs based on genetics and any pre-existing health conditions. Always check with your provider about your specific needs for a prenatal, and if you’re a vegetarian or vegan during pregnancy, be sure to tell your doctor to ensure you’re getting the right nutrients.
That said, the following vitamins and minerals, listed here with the recommended daily amount , are considered must-haves during pregnancy. You can get many of these nutrients in your diet, but prenatal vitamins are meant to fill in any gaps. Note that while you shouldnt expect your prenatal to contain full RDAs of every single ingredient listed, they should have decent doses of the following:
You may also want to consider these extras when selecting a prenatal vitamin:
- DHA: Regular prenatal vitamins may not contain DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid found in many types of fish. DHA may aid in babys brain development, both before and after birth. If youre unable to get the recommended two to three servings of pregnancy-safe fatty fish per week, ask your doctor if you should take a supplement.
- Other nutrients: You might also see several other additions on the label such as copper, choline, thiamin, vitamin B12, magnesium and ginger or vitamin B6 .
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How Do You Know What You Need Test Dont Guess
Weve alluded to this throughout the article, but the only way to know exactly what your body needs is through accurate testing .
We like to do nutrigenomic testing, which gives us information on which nutrients and foods your body likes and needs based on genetics. It also alerts us to any genetic mutations/SNPs which may affect nutrient metabolism.
In addition, I recommend a variety of tests to check for functional markers or vulnerabilities, including:
And dont forget labs for thyroid function! Which I wrote all about this in my article: Thyroid, Fertility, and Pregnancy: An Integrative Functional Approach
Ideally, youd get this information before becoming pregnant so you can restore any deficiencies and stockpile your nutrient stores. However, thats a perfect-world scenario thats not always accessible or realistic to everyoneand thats okay! The most important thing is to start where youre able, and if that means youre already pregnant then nows the perfect time.
If your healthcare provider doesnt offer these tests , just ask. Its your right as a patient to have whatever information about your body that will help improve your health. You can also order some of these labs yourself if your provider doesnt offer them, including a nutrigenomics test here.
Need Some Help Supporting Your Body During Preconception Pregnancy Or Postpartum
My team and I love to work with women throughout their journey to conception, pregnancy, and motherhood. Some of our specialties include supporting natural fertility, reproductive, and preconception health, hormonal imbalance, thyroid disease/Hashimotos, postpartum depletion, digestive issues, and optimizing your health during pregnancy.
And if you already know which prenatal you need, click here to access these pharmaceutical-grade supplements via FullScript.
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Why Should I Take Prenatal Vitamins
Prenatal vitamins are like a nutrition safety net that helps you maintain the vitamins and minerals your body needs to grow a healthy baby and sustain your pregnancy. They work best when supported .
The most noted example of the benefits of taking prenatal vitamins is the fact that they help you get more folic acid. When taken before pregnancy, prenatal vitamins with folic acid can help drastically reduce the incidence of neural tube defects like spina bifida and anencephaly.
Other vitamins and minerals of importance in pregnancy include iron, calcium, vitamin D, DHA, and iodine. Your body needs twice as much iron as usual during pregnancy to build red cells to bring oxygen to the growing baby. You need 1000 milligrams of calcium per day as your baby develops its bones, teeth, and muscles. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. Iodine is needed for the development of your babys brain and nervous system.
Women Of Reproductive Age Need 400 Mcg Of Folic Acid Every Day
- All women of reproductive age should get 400 mcg of folic acid every day to get enough folic acid to help prevent some birth defects because
- About half of U.S. pregnancies are unplanned, and
- Major birth defects of the babys brain or spine occur very early in pregnancy , before most women know they are pregnant.
- When taking folic acid, a higher dose than 400 mcg of folic acid each day is not necessarily better to prevent neural tube defects, unless a doctor recommends taking more due to other health conditions.
- When planning to become pregnant, women who have already had a pregnancy affected by a neural tube defect should consult with their healthcare provider. CDC recommends that these women consume 4,000 mcg of folic acid each day one month before becoming pregnant and through the first 3 months of pregnancy.
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When Should I Start Taking A Prenatal Vitamin
In consultation with your healthcare provider, prenatal vitamins should be taken before conception, per Garden-Robinson. Any woman who is trying to conceive should take a folic acid supplement several weeks before becoming pregnant.
Most health experts recommend that any women who could become pregnant should take a folic acid supplement, too. Folic acid is a B vitamin that has been shown to help reduce the risk for neural tube birth defects, she adds. These birth defects develop early in pregnancy often before a woman is aware she is pregnant.
Gbs Protocol + Supplements
In addition to an oral probiotic throughout pregnancy, my midwife recommends taking 1/4 of a probiotic pill as a suppository every other day for two weeks leading up to the GBS test.
In addition to the probiotic, she recommends taking garlic capsules or eating lots of garlic and probiotic rich foods .
She also recommends taking two additional supplements daily beginning two weeks before the GBS test and until baby is born:
Echinacea is one of the most well-known, researched, and respected immune-supporting herbs. We also keep this one in our supplement cabinet whenever we feel a cold or for flu season.
Pure Synergy is one of my favorite brands for immune boosting supplements. They are generally vegan, gluten free, USDA certified Organic, Non-GMO, and go through a very clean processing.
This has no taste and is VERY easy to take!
High dosing vitamin C during pregnancy has been around for a LONG time. There’s even a pregnancy Vitamin C protocol you can do throughout each trimester, postpartum, and with your baby once they come! People have varying opinions on it thoughâ¦
I think the big issue lies in the fact that most Vitamin C supplements are ascorbic acid, which is just the shell of Vitamin C. High dosing ascorbic acid can lead to copper and other minerals depleting .
If you do high dose Vitamin C, definitely opt for a whole food supplement like this one .
Chelated Minerals Bound To Glycine
Adequate intake of minerals, such as iron and magnesium, is also important to prenatal health.
When it comes to minerals, the most important things to be aware of are your individual iron needs and the forms of various minerals within your prenatal multi.
The World Health Organization estimates that about 41% of pregnant women are iron deficient.20 This is a big deal, because iron is essential for the formation of healthy blood, the transportation of oxygen, formation of DNA, and to prevent anemia. And since your blood volume doubles during pregnancy and youre sharing a bunch of DNA with your baby, having optimal reserves is critical.
Thus, supplementation with iron is generally recommended during pregnancy to meet the iron needs of mother and baby. Research has shown that when detected early in pregnancy, iron deficiency anemia is associated with a > 2-fold increase in the risk of preterm delivery. Maternal anemia when diagnosed before mid pregnancy is also associated with an increased risk of preterm birth.21
Unfortunately, regular iron screenings arent generally part of standard prenatal care unless anemia is detected in the initial blood work.
Yet, research shows that close monitoring of iron status during pregnancy to achieve optimal iron levels is critical to mother and baby.
In addition to an increased risk of preterm birth, iron deficiency can also cause negative impacts on the fetal brain and complications during delivery and postpartum.22
Best Organic Prenatal Vitamins
New Chapter Perfect Prenatal Multivitamin has all the nutrients you need in a prenatal, sourced from organic, whole foods.
Pros: High-quality, specialized nutrition formulated from whole food sources
Cons: Serving is three pills per day synthetic folate brand promotes unverified claims surrounding topics like breastfeeding which may or may not be true.
Like all the best prenatal vitamins, New Chapter’s Perfect Prenatal Multivitamin contains folic acid, iron, calcium, vitamin A, B-complex, C, D, zinc, and omega-3-fish oil. But uniquely, it sources ingredients from organic, whole foods, which can be important to people who prioritize an organic, whole-foods diet.
The prenatal is also fermented a component that, in theory, makes the nutrients more bioavailable and absorbable, Miranda Hammer, R.D., a dietician who lists her practice on Robyn, a database for prenatal practitioner, told Insider.
New Chapter is also one of Dr. Ross’s favorite brands. One of our reviewers, who was particularly prone to nausea during pregnancy, took these vitamins every day for a month, and she felt that taking the Perfect Prenatal Multivitamins in three small doses throughout the day helped stave off the discomfort.
Of course, the fact that you have to remember to take this prenatal three times a day could be a drawback for some and you need all three doses to hit those nutrient levels.
This vitamin is also NSF-certified and third-party tested.
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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.
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Best Prenatal Vitamin For Iodine: Theranatal One Prenatal
If even the word “vitamin” freaks you out , Dr. McDonald recommends Prenate Mini, a micro-sized pill that prrovides all the essential nutrients needed for a healthy pregnancy. Of particular note is its large amount of DHA , which should free you from potentially having to take an added DHA supplement.
Quick reminder: DHA is a type of omega-3 fatty acid . Omega-3 fatty acids are believed to play an important role in the fetus’ brain development before and after birth according to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which is why extra DHA is super important.
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Vitamin D In Pregnancy
You need 10 micrograms of vitamin D each day and should consider taking a supplement containing this amount between September and March.
Vitamin D regulates the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body, which are needed to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy. Our bodies make vitamin D when our skin is exposed to summer sunlight .
It’s not known exactly how much time is needed in the sun to make enough vitamin D to meet the body’s needs, but if you’re in the sun take care to cover up or protect your skin with sunscreen before you start to turn red or burn.
Vitamin D is also in some foods, including:
Vitamin D is added to some breakfast cereals, fat spreads and non-dairy milk alternatives. The amounts added to these products can vary and might only be small.
Because vitamin D is only found in a small number of foods, whether naturally or added, it is difficult to get enough from foods alone.
Do not take more than 100 micrograms of vitamin D a day as it could be harmful.
You can get vitamin supplements containing vitamin D free of charge if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding and qualify for the Healthy Start scheme.
There have been some reports about vitamin D reducing the risk of coronavirus . But there is currently not enough evidence to support taking vitamin D solely to prevent or treat COVID-19.
Calcium Vitamins During Pregnancy
Calcium is one of the essential nutrients for pregnancy. It helps ensure that muscles and nerves function properly, as well as their expected role in growing strong, healthy bones.
A pregnant body will use whatever resources it can to prioritize the growth and development of the baby. That priority includes stealing calcium from the mothers bones and teeth.
Prenatal vitamins will typically contain 200-300 milligrams of calcium. Pregnant women need at least 1,000 milligrams of calcium, so its crucial that they increase their calcium intake with calcium-rich foods, such as orange juice, tofu, kale, bok choy.
Those who are lactose intolerant or vegan may want to discuss options with their doctor, such as increasing their daily dose of prenatal vitamins or switching to prescription vitamins during the crucial months when their body needs it most.
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Why You Should Trust Us
Every brand and product on our list has been vetted to ensure that it aligns with Healthlines brand integrity standards and approach to well-being. Each product in this article:
- adheres to allowable health claims and labeling requirements, per Food and Drug Administration regulations
- is manufactured in facilities that adhere to current good manufacturing practices established by the FDA
- is produced by a medically credible company that follows ethical, legal, and industry best standards
- is made by a company that provides objective measures of trust, such as having its supplements validated by third-party labs
- Type: capsules
- Dosage: 2 capsules per day
- Included nutrients: folate, biotin, choline, iron, iodine, magnesium, boron, omega-3 DHA, and vitamins B12, D3, E, and K
Created by women for women, Ritual Essential Prenatal Multivitamin provides 12 key nutrients to help support you and your baby before, during, and after pregnancy.
Specifically, the prenatal offers more than 100% of your daily needs for folate, vitamin D, and vitamin B12. It also includes docosahexaenoic acid omega-3 from algae, so its a suitable option for those following a vegan diet.
As a bonus, the lemon-scented capsules are designed to be easier on your stomach than some other supplements, so you can take them with or without food.
Just keep in mind that one serving provides only 10% of the recommended amount of choline, so its still important to include , such as eggs, in your diet.