Herbal Supplements Can Help With Ailments With Caution
In addition to micronutrients, herbal supplements are popular.
One 2019 study found that 15.4 percent of pregnant women in the United States use herbal supplements. However not all disclose to their physicians theyre taking them.
While some herbal supplements may be safe to take during pregnancy, there are far more that might not be.
Although some herbs can help with common pregnancy ailments like nausea and upset stomach, some may be harmful to both you and baby.
Unfortunately, there isnt much research regarding the use of herbal supplements by pregnant people, and much is unknown about how the supplements can affect you.
The safest bet? Keep your doctor in the know about any and all changes to your eating plan and supplements.
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.
Why Is Taking Vitamin A Bad For Pregnant Women
Vitamin A, also known as retinol, helps your bodys natural defence against illness, as well as your vision and your skin. When you are pregnant, do not take vitamin A supplements or supplements containing vitamin A . Too much could cause birth defects .
If you decide to take a multivitamin tablet during pregnancy, make sure the tablet doesnt contain vitamin A. You also need to avoid choosing liver or liver paté because these are very high in vitamin A . For more on foods to avoid during pregnancy, see here.
Vitamin A that your body produces from beta-carotene does not increase the risk of birth defects .
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When To Start Taking Prenatal Vitamins
The best time to start taking prenatal vitamins is before conception. Folic acid is especially important. You should begin taking a folic acid supplement at least 1 month before you try to get pregnant to prevent birth defects.
Some doctors recommend that all women who could have a baby take prenatal vitamins, even if they dont plan a pregnancy.
When Should You Start Taking A Prenatal Vitamin
Prenatal vitamins arent just for pregnant peopletheyre for people trying to get pregnant, too. ACOG recommends taking a prenatal vitamin that contains at least 400 micrograms of folic acid at least one month before becoming pregnant.
Begin taking prenatal vitamins when you start tryingdont wait until youre pregnant, says Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut. I encourage all my patients to take folic acid supplementation before they conceiveat least 400 micrograms per dayas we know that women on folic acid supplementation can significantly reduce the risk of certain birth defects like spina bifida.
And even if youre not trying to conceive, if youre not using contraception, you could become pregnant if youre having sex, she says, adding if youre not using contraception, you should take a prenatal vitamin just in case.
|Compare Best Prenatal Vitamins For 2021|
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Which Are The Best Vitamin D Foods And Sources
Our bodies make vitamin D when our skin is exposed to sunlight between March and September . If you have dark skin or always cover your skin when outside, talk to your midwife or doctor as you may not get enough.
You can find vitamin D in foods like oily fish , eggs and red meat. For more on how much and which fish it’s safe to eat during pregnancy, see here. As vitamin D is only present in a few foods, supplements can be useful .
Essential Vitamins And Minerals In Pregnancy
Good nutrition in pregnancy is vital for the healthy growth and development of your baby. You need to consume enough nutrients to meet your baby’s needs, as well as your own.
- folate helps prevent neural tube defects, such as spina bifida when taken at least 1 month before conception and throughout the first 3 months of pregnancy
- iodine is needed for brain and nervous system development
- iron helps prevent anaemia in the mother, as well as low birth weight in the baby
Vitamin B12 and vitamin D are also particularly important since they support the development of the baby’s nervous system and skeleton . Adequate vitamin C intake also helps improve the adsorption of iron from your diet.
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Why Do I Need Folic Acid In Pregnancy
Folic acid , plus vitamin B12, is needed to form red blood cells .
“Folic acid is important for pregnancy because it can help to prevent neural tube defects, including spina bifida .”
The neural tube is a structure in the embryo that later develops into the babys brain and spinal cord. Taking folic acid before you conceive and while you’re pregnant might prevent up to seven out of 10 cases of neural tube defects .
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.
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Can You Take Vitamin C Supplements During Pregnancy
You might be wondering if it’s safe or necessary to take vitamin C supplements while pregnant, especially if you’re hoping to boost your immunity during cold and flu season. However, for most pregnant women, it’s relatively easy to get the recommended amounts of vitamin C through diet and a good prenatal vitamin.
The latest research on taking vitamin C while pregnant is mixed and limited, and the World Health Organization does not recommend adding an additional vitamin C supplement to your prenatal. If you’re concerned that you’re getting enough vitamin C through diet, ask your practitioner if a vitamin C supplement is right for you.
Why Trust Verywell Family
As a Registered Dietitian, Sydney Greene takes supplement recommendations seriously. Every product has been researched and vetted by her against clinical research, product reviews, and third-party testing websites. These are products she would not only feel comfortable recommending to her clients but she would take them herself if needed.
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Vitamins For Pregnant Women With Anemia
In the case of pregnant women with anemia, the use of iron supplements is usually indicated in order to increase the capacity of the red blood cells to transport iron.
Anemia in pregnancy is common because the body needs to produce more blood, so all pregnant women should be careful to consume a diet rich in iron throughout their pregnancy.
Vitamins Are Important Postpartum As Well
While there are clear benefits for taking a prenatal vitamin before and during pregnancy, there is also significant evidence that prenatal or postnatal vitamins may help even after delivery with things like improving the nutritional needs of breastfeeding mothers, preventing anemia and calcium deficiencies and enhanced energy and better mood regulation.
Some women, such as those with a vegetarian or vegan diet, may not get adequate nutrients through diet alone and may be at greater risk for deficiencies.
Most health care providers recommend taking a prenatal vitamin as long as you are breastfeeding to ensure your baby continues to get sufficient nutrients like A,D and B vitamins, DHA and iodine, Dr. Valentine said. If not breastfeeding, then the general recommendation is to continue taking them a minimum of 6-8 weeks postpartum while your body is healing.
Talk to your health care provider about whether youd benefit from taking prenatal or postnatal vitamins after delivery.
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Herbs May Be Natural But That Doesnt Always Mean Their Safe
Herbs arent regulated in the U.S. and can have contaminants that can be harmful in pregnancy as well as enhance bleeding, Dr. Valentine said. Before taking any herbal pills, teas or supplements, you should first discuss with your health care provider.
Benefits Of Vitamin C During Pregnancy
In general, Vitamin C provides multiple health benefits, such as supporting your healthy immune system, working as an antioxidant by helping to neutralize damaging free radicals in your cells, and as an enzyme cofactor, assisting in reactions such as making collagen and carnitine. Vitamin C also aids in the absorption of Iron.2,
But its also important to know that additional benefits of Vitamin C during pregnancy exist, too. As mentioned above, the body needs Vitamin C to produce collagena part of skin, blood vessels, tendons, and bone. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant that helps neutralize free radicals before they can damage cells. Finally, pregnant women need significantly more Iron during pregnancy as their blood volume increases.3 Additionally, Vitamin C improves the absorption of Iron from plant-based foods.2,
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What Nutrients Are Included In A Prenatal Vitamin
The nutrients provided by a prenatal vitamin vary. When developing our ranking, the Forbes Health editorial team evaluated prenatal vitamins on their inclusion of:
- Vitamin A
When comparing ingredient lists, talk to your doctor or midwife about which prenatal vitamin is a good fit for you. Generally speaking, folic acid is a key nutrient. Many prenatal vitamins contain around 800 micrograms of folic acid, and OB-GYNs typically recommend taking a prenatal vitamin with at least 400 micrograms.
DHAan omega-3 fatty acidis also often recommended, as it may help with fetal brain development. Many prenatal vitamins include DHA. You can add a separate DHA supplement to your routine, too.
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.
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Prenatal Vitamin Side Effects
Some prenatal vitamins can cause nausea in an already nauseated pregnant woman. If that happens to you, talk to your health care provider. They may be able to prescribe a different kind of prenatal vitamin that you dont have to swallow whole. Options include:
The iron in prenatal vitamins may also make you constipated. If youre constipated it can help to:
- Eat a high-fiber diet
- Exercise if your doctor says its safe for you
- Take a stool softener with your doctors OK
Supplements To Avoid While Pregnant Or Breastfeeding
While the vitamins and supplements above are generally considered safe for pregnant and nursing mothers, others should be avoided.
Certain vitamins, plants, and herbs can potentially be harmful while pregnant or breastfeeding. Thats why you must always let your doctor know about any supplements you take.
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How Do I Choose Prenatal Vitamins
Prenatal vitamins are readily available over the counter and a prescription is generally unnecessary.
If youre concerned about which to choose, dont be. Theres not much difference between over the counter and prescription prenatals, and both are adequate, assures Dr. Nwankwo.
Sometimes prescription prenatals may have special formulationsfor example, they may have a stool softener added to help with constipation, or they may have additional iron. The pills may also be smaller and easier to take. But its not necessary, she says. It also doesnt matter whether you take a tablet or a gummy, just make sure it has the right amount of vitamins you need.
Every vitamin can differ in the types and amounts of nutrients it contains because specific vitamin ingredients arent regulated by the FDA. If the vitamin you choose doesnt contain the full recommended daily amount of a nutrient, be sure to eat foods that are high in that vitamin or mineral.
When shopping for prenatal vitamins look for these four primary nutrients that are especially important during pregnancy, per Dr. Nwankwo and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists):
- Folic acid: 600 mcg
- Iron: 27 mg
- Calcium: 1,000 mg
- Vitamin D: 600 IU
The following vitamins are also essential during pregnancy, and you may not get enough of them through diet alone. Having these in your prenatals are helpful too:
- Vitamin A: 770 mcg
- Vitamin C: 85 mg
- Vitamin B12: 2.6 mcg
- Choline: 450 mg
Vitamins And Mineral Supplements That May Cause Problems
Vitamin A, also called retinol, helps to maintain your skin and vision. When youre pregnant, though, taking vitamin A supplements can cause birth defects. Because of this, it is important to avoid taking any supplements or multivitamins other than your prenatal vitamin, that contain extra vitamin A.
Iodine is a very important nutrient during pregnancy. It is essential for the proper development of the fetus. However, when taken in excess it can affect thyroid function. Iodine overdose may cause hyperthyroidismor hypothyroidism. Too much iodine may also affect the neurodevelopment of the child.
Herbal supplements to avoid during pregnancy
You should always clear it with your obstetrician before taking any supplements while pregnant.
Following is a list of supplements you should avoid when pregnant. Remember, this list is not exhaustive! It is important to always consult your doctor before taking a supplement, especially when pregnant.
- can have negative effects on your pregnancy.
- Saw palmetto is not safe to use throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding. It can also interfere with your hormones.
- Yarrow may cause miscarriage.
- Yohimbe can cause seizures and heart attacks.
Alternative treatments and drugs
Foods and beverages to avoid
- King mackerel
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The Recommended Dose Of Vitamin D For Pregnancy
Scientific data proves the safety and efficacy of 4000 IU vitamin D, administered daily over 6 months of pregnancy. Studies have shown a significant decrease in complications of pregnancy including primary Cesarian section, hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, and comorbidities of pregnancy. While there is consensus regarding the need for vitamin D supplementation in pregnancy, there is confusion regarding optimal target levels, and the dose required to achieve them.
The optimal level of vitamin D in nonpregnant adults is defined as levels of Vitamin D which are required to maintain serum parathormone levels and prevent secondary hyperparathyroidism.
Vitamin D for pregnant women should be D > 40 ng/ml, irrespective of how it is achieved. Below this level, there may be a vitamin D deficiency that may pass on to the fetus and create severe growth problems for the baby. Results of the recently conducted randomized controlled trial on vitamin D supplementation in pregnancy suggest a safe dose of 2000-4000 IU/day.
So now that we have enough data to understand how much Vitamin D is important and what would be a recommended dose for a pregnant woman, we must now try to find out about the source.
Good Food Hygiene Reduces The Risk Of Infection
Good food hygiene is the best way to reduce the risk of salmonella and listeria infections. Suggestions include:
- Always wash your hands before and after preparing food.
- Keep your kitchen surfaces clean.
- Do not let uncooked food contaminate cooked food.
- Wash fruit, vegetables and salad before eating.
- Cook food thoroughly.
- Keep pets away from kitchen surfaces.
- Wear rubber gloves when handling cat litter trays or gardening.
- Store food at correct temperatures.
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Vitamin D How Is It Important During Pregnancy
- 10 Mins Read
- Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin obtained largely from consuming fortified milk or juice, fish oils, and dietary supplements.
- Vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency are common across the globe.
- The relationship between low vitamin D and adverse maternal outcomes during pregnancy is crucial.
- Scientific data proves the safety and efficacy of 4000 IU vitamin D, administered daily over 6 months of pregnancy.
- Assessment of vitamin D status in early pregnancy or in women at preconception should be considered.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin obtained largely from consuming fortified milk or juice, fish oils, and dietary supplements. It is also produced endogenously in the skin with exposure to sunlight.
Vitamin D for pregnant women is crucial It is a prohormone, which is known to play an important role in bone metabolism. It is also essential to promote the absorption of calcium from the gut and enables normal bone mineralization and growth.
Vitamin D during pregnancy requirements is higher, as evidenced by physiologically higher vitamin D levels seen in the second and third trimesters of pregnant women.