Supplements, Nutrients, and Vitamins During Pregnancy
Health babies start with healthy mums. During pregnancy, your little one receives all vital nutrients from you. That means getting enough of the right vitamins and minerals where you can to ensure they’re on the right path to growth.
Most of the time, you can accomplish this with a proper diet full of fruits, vegetables, and grains. However, most mums wonder if they should also supplement with prenatal vitamins and other nutrients.
The answer is yes, but it largely depends on several factors. While you should always consult your doctor or midwife for confirmation, there are some options that are widely regarded as safe for pregnancy.
To help give you an idea of which ones to consider, we’ve put together a brief guide with more details. Here is what you need to know about taking supplements in pregnancy, including which ones to avoid.
Is It Safe to Take Supplements During Pregnancy?
Whether it is safe to take supplements during pregnancy is a common question a lot of expectant mothers want to know. While each mum should consult with their own doctor about their particular set of needs, there are some basic guidelines to follow.
To start, choose those that state on the side of the package that they’re safe for pregnancy. This is a good indicator that there is no harm to you or the baby during those precious nine months. Likewise, most supplements and protein powders that are not deemed safe for pregnant women should also list notate the same information, but not all do.
You should also view lists online of dietary and herbal supplements that are not safe during pregnancy or when you’re trying to conceive. While we’ve included a few below, understanding which options are potentially harmful to an unborn fetus is important for every woman of childbearing age to know.
To clarify, there are some supplements that are safe to take when you are pregnant. For example, folic acid supplementation is widely regarded as safe by most medical doctors. In fact, ensuring you’re getting enough each day can help reduce the chances of severe neural tube birth defects like spina bifida.
If you’re suffering from nausea, ginger is deemed safe for pregnancy to help calm your stomach. This can be taken in the form of a nice hot cup of ginger tea, chewable tablets, or in meals.
And, it is important to understand that prenatal vitamins are perfectly okay during all phases of your pregnancy. Most contain more than enough basic nutrients to ensure both mum and baby have what they need for proper health.
Supplements to Avoid
In an effort to get the right level of nutrients in pregnancy, some women might use dietary supplements or meal replacement shakes. Unless otherwise prescribed by your doctor, it is important to avoid these items as often as possible.
Why? Many herbal supplements are not regulated by the medical community. Thus, little is known about the effects they can have on your unborn child other than basic folklore or hearsay. Further, many nutritional supplement drinks contain other additives like caffeine that can be harmful for baby and mum.
Furthermore, any weight loss supplements or those that specifically contain chromium, black cohosh, Vitamin E, saw palmetto, mugwort, blue cohosh, yarrow, or angelica should be avoided. Also, this is not a complete list of those to avoid, meaning it is important to do your own further research, as well.
Where to Get Supplements
When choosing supplements during pregnancy, it is important to purchase quality brands that use organic or natural ingredients. Often, you can visit a local shop in your neighbourhood for guidance or speak to your doctor about the best place to buy these types of items.
Be careful making purchases online for anything you plan on ingesting—especially if that item is manufactured overseas. Most government bodies do not regulate vitamins and supplements, meaning what they say is in the ingredients might not be the whole truth.
As a pregnant mum, it is best to stick to brands that you know and trust or those recommended by medical professionals. Generally, when you speak to your doctor or midwife about supplements during pregnancy, they’ll be more than happy to give you a few brand names or stores to make a purchase.
Prenatal Vitamins and Minerals
Since pregnancy is such an important time for the growth of your child, ensuring that you’re getting the right vitamins is critical. In fact, some doctors even start women of childbearing age on prenatal supplements months or years before they conceive to ensure optimum health.
Generally, your doctor or midwife will offer a specific type of prenatal vitamin for you to take on a daily basis. The most common ingredients in a prenatal tablet include iron to help prevent anemia, folic acid for gestational growth, choline for early brain development, and some amounts of Vitamin A for improved immune function. There should also be Vitamin C, Vitamin B12, calcium, zinc, iron, and iodine.
It is a good idea to check the ingredients list on the back of any prenatal vitamins you take to ensure it at a minimum contains folic acid, iron, and calcium—all of which are important to a baby's development. However, choosing a generic prenatal vitamin is fine as long as it includes the most basic necessities for better health of the mum and overall development of the baby.
Vitamin D in Pregnancy
Most pregnant women need 600 IU of Vitamin D each day. While this can come from foods like citrus fruits, leafy green vegetables, and others, sometimes it can be difficult to get enough if you’re dealing with stomach upset. Instead, talk with your doctor or midwife to ensure you’re supplementing where necessary with Vitamin D pregnancy capsules.
And a little sunshine time can also help. Our bodies create Vitamin D naturally when we’re in direct sunlight, which means a little time in the fresh air can even give your body the boost necessary for better pregnancy health.
Frankly, Vitamin D supplementation is actually a good idea for just about every adult—both male and female. If this isn’t something you’ve discussed with your medical practitioner in the past, now is a good time to do so, whether you’re pregnant or not.
Vitamin C in Pregnancy
Additionally, you’ll want to have some sort of supplementation for Vitamin C. Not only does it help the mother’s body repair damage associated with pregnancy and birth, but it promotes better bone and tooth development for your baby.
Further, Vitamin C also works to help the body absorb iron and promotes a better immune system. These days, having a strong and healthy immune response is important for everyone—not just expectant mums.
While you can attempt to eat certain foods like citrus to improve your diet, Vitamin C tablets offer the ability to easily supplement during pregnancy. Be warned, however, as some women report these capsules upset their stomach or aggravate an existing condition of morning sickness.
Magnesium in Pregnancy
Another area you might need to look at discussing with your doctor is magnesium pregnancy supplementation. Most women need anywhere from 350 to 400 milligrams each day to stay healthy during pregnancy.
Common ways to get magnesium through your diet include almonds, spinach, bananas, and beans. However, if getting an ample amount through foods is too difficult, there are supplemental options safe for pregnant women. Additionally, most prenatal vitamins include some amounts of magnesium, making the need to add more unnecessary.
Of course, those aren’t the only vitamins and minerals pregnant mums need during this exciting time in life. To ensure her growing fetus gets all the right nutrients, it might be a good idea to supplement with other options.
For example, protein powder for pregnancy is safe, but only with some special formulations and brands. A couple of scoops added to a smoothie or bowl of cereal can be enough to ensure you’re getting enough protein in your daily diet for your baby to grow strong.
DHA is another important one. This omega-3 fatty acid is commonly found in fish like tuna and salmon. However, if the thought of stomaching the flavor of this food is somewhat repulsive at this point, don’t worry. A simple capsule can be sufficient to give your little one the necessary nutrients for eye and brain development.
While fibre itself is not considered an essential nutrient, it is quite important for expectant mothers. A woman’s body goes through a lot of changes during this time—including some associated with bowel and intestinal health. Additionally, constipation due to the iron in prenatal vitamins can make some feel uncomfortable, which is where getting enough fiber on a daily basis becomes important. Whole grain breads, muffins, and cereals can all be enough in your diet to reduce the need for supplementation, but a special fiber drink might also do the trick.
Potassium is another important nutrient that women who are pregnant need. Present in most prenatal vitamins and a lot of foods, additionally supplementation is sometimes necessary when a woman is active during pregnancy. This nutrient helps the body regulate proper fluid balance in cells, which is important when you’re trying to stay hydrated for two. In addition, getting enough potassium can help reduce muscle cramps, bloating, and more.
When it comes to taking a multivitamin during pregnancy, it is best to stick with the prenatal vitamin prescribed by your doctor. Generally, expectant mums shouldn’t need more than what they’re already getting in their current formula.
If you or your doctor decide that additional supplementation is necessary, then you can easily add to your prenatal tablet with individual doses of specific nutrients. For most women, though, the numerous ingredients in prenatal vitamins is more than sufficient alone.
Frequently Asked Questions
Of course, it is normal for any woman to have questions about what to take while she’s expecting. After all, delivering a healthy baby is always the goal and certain vitamins, minerals, and nutrients help fetal development while easing the symptoms of pregnancy for the mother. Here are three of the most commonly asked questions of supplements and vitamins during pregnancy.
What Are the Best Supplements to Take During Pregnancy?
When it comes to supplementation while pregnant, the first and best choice is always a quality prenatal vitamin. Designed specifically for the needs of an expectant mum, there is likely more than enough in one capsule to meet your needs. In addition, you can talk to your doctor or midwife about supplementation with other items like fish oil, Vitamin D, magnesium, potassium, and more.
Should I Take Supplements If I'm Pregnant?
Depending on your needs, you might require a specific type of supplement during pregnancy. However, it is incredibly important to get the approval of your doctor or midwife before taking anything besides prenatal vitamins. This is especially true if you’re on any medications, as even herbal or dietary supplements can interact poorly with pharmaceutical drugs. As we’ve stated within this guide, it is very important to seek medical counsel before attempting any type of supplement or vitamin during pregnancy.
When Should I Start Taking Prenatal Vitamins?
You should start taking pregnancy vitamins the moment you find out you’re expecting. In some cases, women who are actively trying to conceive should start taking a daily prenatal multivitamin as soon as possible. After all, if a multivitamin is good enough for the needs of an expectant mum, it can certainly boost the health and immune system of a woman trying to become pregnant.
Wrap Up: Supplements and Vitamins in Pregnancy
It is important to stress that you should always discuss your needs with your doctor before taking any sort of vitamin or nutrient during pregnancy. Even something as simple as a Vitamin D supplement might not be right for your particular level of health, which is why getting a professional opinion is so vital. However, this guide should give you a basic idea to start the conversation with your trusted medical provider.