What Vitamins And Supplements Should I Take During Pregnancy
Eating a well-balanced diet is important during your pregnancy. What you eat and drink has an impact on your baby and your body. Learn about pregnancyvitamins and supplements you should take to help ensure you have a healthy pregnancy and baby.
Why You Should Start Taking Prenatal Vitamins
It’s no secret that a daily vitamin is important for your health. But what about a prenatal vitamin? Prenatal vitamins are even more important, and it is crucial to find a prenatal vitamin that is made specifically for pregnant women. In this article, you will find advices on how to choose the best prenatal vitamin for you and your baby.
Why should I take a prenatal supplement?
A prenatal supplement can be beneficial for both you and your baby. Prenatal vitamins contain many of the nutrients that are needed to help your body grow and stay healthy during pregnancy. Nutrients like prebiotics, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin D are important for both you and your unborn baby. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends taking prenatal vitamins during pregnancy. Prenatal vitamins are essential because they provide the recommended daily requirements needed to maintain a healthy pregnancy. Adequate folic acid intake can help prevent neural tube defects, such as spina bifida. Vitamins B6 and 12 are important for fetal brain development, while calcium is essential in preventing osteoporosis later in life.
What is the importance of a prenatal vitamin?
When should a woman start taking a prenatal supplement?
What ingredients should I look for in a good prenatal vitamin?
The Best Vitamins To Take While Pregnant
Gaby Vaca-Flores, RDN, CLE, shares recommended vitamins to take while pregnant. Plus: additional supplements for a healthy pregnancy, other prenatal nutritional needs, and vitamins to avoid during pregnancy.
Is it safe to take vitamins during pregnancy? How about while breastfeeding?
These are two of the most common questions that dietitians get from expectant and new mothers. Its no secret that proper nourishment can better optimize your pre and postnatal care. But exactly which vitamins and supplements should you take during pregnancy?
In this article, were bringing things back to science-backed basics. When it comes to supplements and pregnancy, heres the information you need to have a safe and healthy term.*
*This information should not be used in lieu of professional medical advice. Always follow guidance from your OB-GYN and/or primary care physician.
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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 is mostly sourced 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.
What Should You Be Wary Of When Taking A Prenatal Vitamin
Vitamins are essential nutrients that keep the body healthy, but it is possible to have too much of a good thing, cautions Shepherd, who recommends that her patients consult with their doctor and purchase supplements from a reputable sourcenot all supplements are created equal, after all. DuBoises motivation to make a clean prenatal vitamin was driven by the fact that the supplement industry is largely unregulated, and its possible that common vitamins on the market can contain cheap, toxic fillers and are manufactured with chemical solvents. Its terrifying for the average person, but even scarier while pregnant! says DuBoise. The bottom line is: Before you take any prenatal supplements, discuss them with your doctor, and do your research
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Vegetarian Vegan And Special Diets In Pregnancy
A varied and balanced vegetarian diet should provide enough nutrients for you and your baby during pregnancy.
But you might find it more difficult to get enough iron and vitamin B12.
Talk to a midwife or doctor about how to make sure you’re getting enough of these important nutrients.
If you’re vegan or you follow a restricted diet because of a food intolerance or for religious reasons, talk to a midwife or GP.
Ask to be referred to a dietitian for advice on how to make sure you’re getting all the nutrients you need for you and your baby.
Find out more about healthy eating if you’re pregnant and vegetarian or vegan.
Why Take Pregnancy Vitamins And Supplements
You may need vitamins and supplements if you:
- Have food allergies or dietary restrictions, such as a vegan diet
- Dont eat a well-balanced diet. Your doctor may recommend supplements if your diet is low in nutrients.
- Are pregnant with twins or other multiples
- Have nutrient deficiencies
- Smoke or abuse alcohol or drugs
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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
Do I Need To Take Supplements
It’s recommended that all pregnant women in Australia take folic acid and iodine supplements.
However, it’s better to get the other nutrients you need from a healthy diet rather than from supplements. In most cases, eating a variety of nutritious foods should meet both your needs and those of your baby. Check the Australian Dietary Guidelines for more advice.
If you have a known deficiency, your doctor might advise you to take a supplement. For example:
- if you are vegetarian or vegan and not getting adequate vitamin B12
- if you don’t consume enough dairy foods and are not getting much calcium, which is vital for bone health
- if you have a vitamin D deficiency
If you’re not sure whether you need a supplement, talk to your doctor.
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Is It Bad If You Dont Take Your Prenatal Vitamins During Your Pregnancy
The best way to stay healthy during your pregnancy is to eat right and maintain a healthy weight gain. Yes prenatal vitamins are an important part of your pregnancy nutrition, but they are never a subtitute for a healty well balanced diet. If you forget your vitamins once in a while do not panic…and do not “double up” because they may make you feel sick or increase constipation. I usually recommend that my patients put any “daily medicine” in a place they go every day…such as next to their toothbrushes, hairdryers, car keys, etc. Sometimes you can even set a daily reminder or alarm on your cell phone so you can remember to take your vitamins.
Important Nutrients During Pregnancy
A healthy diet during your pregnancy will benefit you and promote your babys development. Talk to your doctor about supplements to make sure they’re necessary and safe for you and your baby.Folate or Folic Acid
Folate is the natural form of vitamin B9. It’s found in many foods. When its a supplement or added to foods, its known as folic acid.Folate helps prevent neural tube defects. The neural tube develops into your babys brain and spine. These birth defects happen very early in pregnancy, often before you know that youre pregnant. The two most common neural tube defects are spina bifida and anencephaly .Folate is found in different foods, including:
- Legumes, like peas and dried beans
- Leafy, dark green vegetables such as spinach, romaine lettuce, and broccoli
- Whole grains
- Fortified foods
If youre pregnant or breastfeeding, you should get 600 micrograms of folate a day. Its hard to get this amount from food, so doctors usually recommend a folic acid supplement.
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Not Getting Enough Folate
Because the body has a high demand for folate, women may not get enough of this nutrient during their childbearing years . Women who are at higher risk include those who:
- are not taking the recommended folic acid supplement,
- are on restricted diets ,
- have a lower socio-economic status, and
- are experiencing food insecurityFootnote 5.
What Dose Of Folic Acid Do I Need During Pregnancy
The recommended dose of folic acid for non-pregnant adults and children over 11 years old is 200 mcg . You can get this from eating a healthy, varied diet.
Pregnant women, however, should take an additional 400 mcg of folic acid, which is where the supplements come in. Eating foods that are rich in folic acid is encouraged as well .
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Folic Acid Calcium Iodine And Iron
If getting pregnant is a possibility for you, you should take folic acid. It can prevent birth defects that affect the babys brain and spinal cord. Neural tube defects develop early in pregnancy, before many women know theyre pregnant half of all pregnancies are unplanned. This is why doctors recommend that any woman who could get pregnant take 400 micrograms of folic acid daily, starting before conception and continuing for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
If youve had a baby with a neural tube defect you should talk with your health care provider about folic acid. Studies have shown that taking a larger dose at least one month before and during the first trimester may help if youve had a baby with this defect. But talk to your doctor about whats right for you.
Foods that have folic acid include:
Iron helps your body make more blood red cells. These blood cells carry oxygen to the baby that it needs to develop.
How Much Vitamin A Do You Need When Youre Pregnant
Getting the right amount of vitamin A during pregnancy is a bit of a balancing act. Too much can harm your developing baby and lead to birth defects1, while too little carries certain risks to you and your babys development5. If you aim to eat a healthy balanced diet, you should be getting all the vitamin A you need and should avoid taking any additional supplements containing it. A healthy intake will ensure your baby gets the nutritional support they need for normal development. And because its a fat-soluble vitamin, your body can build up stores of it in your liver, ready for when you need it. If youd like any more advice, do speak to your healthcare professional.
Your Reference Nutrient Intake of vitamin A in pregnancy the amount considered to be enough to meet most peoples needs is slightly higher than normal, at 100mcg per day6. Half a cup of raw carrots contains 459mcg of vitamin A, and half a cup of broccoli contains 60mcg of vitamin A7.
If you decide to breastfeed your baby, you shouldnt need to make any special dietary changes but its a good idea to eat healthily. You can always talk to your midwife or healthcare professional if youd like any more advice. Read more about a healthy breastfeeding diet.
The good news is, you should be able to get all the vitamin A you need by enjoying a healthy, balanced pregnancy diet.
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Can Prenatal Vitamins Increase Fertility
Can I give birth by giving birth before birth? Taking prenatal vitamins does not increase your chances of getting pregnant. This is a myth that makes us happy to go bankrupt. However, prenatal vitamins greatly increase your chances of experiencing a healthy pregnancy.
Whats more, why do prenatal vitamins increase fertility? Prenatal vitamins include DHA, a type of omega 3 fatty acid that helps the health of babies after pregnancy. Omega 3 fatty acids also help improve the quality of cervical mucus , promote the ideal balance of reproductive hormones, and improve egg quality.
In addition, should I take prenatal while trying to get pregnant? Take before birth. No, Im not pregnant yet, but taking prenatal vitamins in the months leading up to pregnancy can prevent serious birth defects, preterm birth, and morning sickness. So ask your practitioner for a recommendation and jump out now.
Should I take it before birth before I become pregnant? Ideally, you would start taking prenatal vitamins before conception. In fact, it is generally a good idea for reproductive age women to take prenatal vitamins on a regular basis.
Also, what do you need to know about vitamins that help twins get pregnant? Before becoming pregnant, doctors recommend taking about 400 micrograms of folic acid per day and increasing this amount to 600 micrograms during pregnancy. There have been some small studies suggesting that folic acid may increase the likelihood of imagining multiples.
Making Sure You Get Enough Iron
During your pregnancy you will be given regular blood tests. One of the reasons for this is to monitor your iron levels. Iron plays a key role in making the haemoglobin in red blood cells which is very important for both you and your baby. Iron helps move oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body – and your babys too!
About 50% of women dont get enough of this important mineral in pregnancy, which can leave them anaemic, especially after 20 weeks of pregnancy. This is more likely to be the case if youre a vegetarian or vegan, suffer from severe morning sickness or are carrying multiple babies. Whilst low Iron is something that will most-likely be picked up by your midwife, its always best to speak to your midwife or GP if you start to feel extra tired, dizzy or breathless.
Its recommended that you consume between 27 mg and 45mg of iron a day. For most women, Iron supplementation is safe during pregnancy. However, not every mum-to-be needs extra Iron, especially since the mineral can be found in many foods. As always, talk to your practitioner before adding any new supplements to your diet.
Some of the best iron-rich foods include:
- Fortified breakfast cereals
- Spinach, broccoli, or spring greens
- Firm tofu
- Nuts and dried fruit, such as dried apricots
- Wholemeal bread and fortified breakfast cereals
Make sure you eat foods containing Vitamin C as these help you absorb iron. These include:
- Kiwi fruit
And avoid foods that prevent you from absorbing iron. These include:
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Continued Supplementation Throughout Pregnancy
Canadian survey data show that it is difficult for most women of childbearing age to consume enough folate from diet alone to meet their pregnancy needs. Over 75% of non-pregnant/non-breastfeeding women aged 19 – 50 have intakes less than the Estimated Average Requirement Footnote 10 for pregnancy, 520 mcg of DFEs . To meet folate needs during pregnancy, women should consume a varied diet that provides dietary folate , and continue taking a multivitamin containing 400 mcg of folic acid throughout their pregnancy.Table I This table charts the sources of dietary folate from different food.
Do I Need To Take Anything In Addition To My Prenatal Vitamin
“Supplement with calcium if your prenatal doesn’t contain enough,” says Kukreja. Most don’t because adding too much calcium to a multivitamin makes it unstable. Pregnant women need 1,000 milligrams a day many supplements only contain 150 milligrams to 250 milligrams. You can take a tums tablet daily to supplement it.
In addition, many pregnant women don’t get the institute of medicine’s recommendation for 600 IUs of vitamin D per day. But most prenatal vitamin formulations contain 400 IU, and this should be adequate when combined with a healthy diet, Dayal says. The March of Dimes also recommends that pregnant women get at least 200 milligrams of DHA daily. Found in fish and some plant-based, vegetarian sources, DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid that’s essential to fetal brain and eye development, Dayal says. Many prenatals contain DHA, but you also can take fish oil capsules they’re mercury-free.
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Selecting A Multivitamin Containing Folic Acid
For women who can become pregnant, health care professionals play an important role in motivating them to use supplements . To ensure proper use of multivitamin supplements:
- Use the ‘Key messages on folate for women of childbearing age‘ to write or talk about folic acid supplementation during the childbearing years.
- Encourage women to look for a multivitaminFootnote 13 that provides 400 mcg of folic acid per daily dose. The product should also include vitamin B12.
- Advise women that prenatal supplements contain higher amounts of nutrients than are usually needed by women who are not pregnant. A non-prenatal multivitamin supplement is often enough. Following this advice can help women avoid taking excessive amounts of nutrients over time.
- Ensure that women look for a Drug Identification Number or Natural Product Number on the product label showing that the product is government-approved for safety, efficacy, and quality.
- Emphasize the importance of reading product labels. Some supplements may include cautionary notes about their use during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
- Caution women not to take more than one daily dose. This will help women not go over the Tolerable Upper Intake Level for vitamin AFootnote 14, which is 3,000 mcg retinol activity equivalent or 10,000 IU.
- Remind women to keep all supplements stored out of reach of young children.