During pregnancy, much of what goes through you comes into contact with your baby as well, and that includes any supplements. You should know: not all supplements are actually safe for pregnant women. Yet there are others that can be really helpful during pregnancy. Keep reading to find out which supplements you should be taking and which ones you should avoid during pregnancy.
Supplements to Take During Pregnancy
Prenatal vitamins are made specifically for pregnant women. They are made to cover all the bases when it comes to your vitamin needs during pregnancy. Your baby relies on you for nutrients, so taking that extra step to make sure you can provide all they need (and still have some left for yourself) really matters.
It is never too early to take a prenatal vitamin, and is actually recommended that when possible women begin taking them before they conceive. Remember, vitamins are a supplement to a nutritious, balanced diet, not a substitute.
Vitamin D is important to the health of both baby and mother. For the benefit of you both, it is immune system supportive. Vitamin D also helps your baby’s bones and teeth grow. It has been shown that up to 4,000 IU/day of vitamin D is safe for pregnant women. However, if you decide to take vitamin D during pregnancy, always take the recommended dose on the bottle unless otherwise recommended.
Folic acid is the synthetic and almost identical form of naturally occurring folate. It plays an extremely important role during pregnancy. Folic acid is a B vitamin that helps to prevent neural tube defects. If you’re deemed high risk for having a baby with neural tube defects, then your doctor may recommend that you increase the amount of folic acid you supplement with beyond the standard dose during pregnancy.
Your body actually needs twice as much iron during pregnancy. Why? Well, iron is important to the production of hemoglobin, which helps carry oxygen in your blood. The demands for this are greater during pregnancy.
If you have naturally low iron, your health professional may recommend an iron supplement. There are two kinds, heme (animal derived) and non-heme (plant derived). Some people tend to have low iron stores due to their diet; for example, vegans and vegetarians can be iron deficient. In this case, a non-heme iron supplement may be recommended. When taking iron supplements remember that they are best absorbed taken separately from food, however a bit of Vitamin C improves metabolism of it.
Supplements to Avoid During Pregnancy
An added vitamin A is needed by a developing fetus, but too much can be toxic. Too much vitamin A during pregnancy could contribute to possible congenital disabilities. The amount of vitamin A typically consumed through a good diet is enough to support your growing baby, so it is unlikely that you would need to supplement with this. Carrots, broccoli, squash, and cantaloupe are the best food sources.
Many energy supplements rely on caffeine to some degree. Although a small amount of caffeine is okay (200 mg or one 12 oz cup of coffee per day) during pregnancy, it is always best to err on the side of caution. Even energy supplements that contain small amounts of caffeine could put you over your daily limit. Do your best to avoid these in pregnancy.
Although some herbs are okay during pregnancy, others are not. Some herbs have been connected with premature birth, miscarriage, fetal injury, and uterine contractions. Some of the herbs deemed unsafe include saw palmetto, passion flower, Roman chamomile, and dong quai. If you are considering taking any herbal supplement while pregnant, be sure to discuss it with your health professional first.
For most pregnant women, a healthy diet and a good prenatal vitamin provide all the nutrition needed for a healthy pregnancy. Of course, there are always exceptions. Mothers-to-be on a vegan or vegetarian diet may be given different recommendations regarding supplements. If you have a poor diet or are carrying multiples, your doctor may also recommend additional supplementation.
If you are considering taking a supplement during pregnancy, it is still best practice to discuss it with your healthcare professional first, even when it has been deemed safe. When it comes to providing a healthy environment for your baby, you don’t want to take any chances.
It is common to have questions come up about taking supplements while pregnant. If you have questions or would like more information, please call our Wilmette or Glenview offices. If you have other pregnancy related questions, lease feel free to look through our obstetrics blog library. We add to it regularly.