What Vitamin Supplements Should I Be Taking In Pregnancy?
There is an increased demand for nutrients in your body during pregnancy. Having a healthy balanced diet is very important but your diet can be supplemented with the intake of prenatal vitamins. Here are the important vitamins in pregnancy:
Folic acid - prevents the development of neural tube defects which are defects in the brain and spinal cord of your baby. These defects develop within the first trimester of pregnancy which is why it is important to start taking them at least 3 months before you are planning to conceive. The recommended dose of folic acid is 400 mcg daily for women of childbearing age during pregnancy. Foods rich in folic acid are green leafy vegetables like spinach, citrus fruits like oranges, beans and cereal.
Iron - during pregnancy your body has to make extra red blood cells for you and the baby. Red blood cells help carry the oxygen required for different parts of the body and to the baby. Iron is also present in green leafy vegetables, dried fruits and nuts. Iron deficiency will cause you to feel lethargic, short of breath, dizzy or faint. It is important to boost your iron levels as much as possible during the pregnancy as you will lose some iron stores at the time of delivery and then if you are breastfeeding will continue to lose iron through breastmilk.
Iodine - many women are deficient in iodine and this is thought to be due to increasing use of non-iodised salt (ie. sea salt) in our diets. Iodine deficiency can have harmful effects such as maternal, fetal & neonatal hypothyroidism and neurodevelopmental problems for the child. Therefore, it is recommended to use a pregnancy supplement containing 150mcg of iodine (potassium iodide).
Vitamin D - is important for immunity and bone health. It is also necessary for absorption and metabolism of calcium and phosphorus in our body. A recent study shows that women taking 600 IU of vitamin D daily, preferably in the form of vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), had the greatest benefits in preventing low birth weight, preterm birth and pre-eclampsia. Foods rich in vitamin D are salmon, egg and cod liver oil.
Calcium - is important for your bone health and is most important for fetal bone development in the third trimester. Pregnant women who are not consuming enough calcium are at risk of developing osteoporosis later in life. Try to get at least 1000 mg of calcium in your diet every day. If you think you are not taking enough calcium talk to your doctor about taking calcium supplements. Foods rich in calcium are milk, yoghurt and cheese.
Vitamin B3 - There is new evidence to suggest that vitamin B3 is important in preventing stillbirth and birth defects.
The nutritional requirements may vary among different people depending on individual needs and circumstances. It may also be beneficial to take prenatal vitamins containing Vitamin C and Zinc. It is also important to inform your doctor about any supplements or over the counter vitamins that you are taking. This is due to the risk of overdose. Some vitamins can cause adverse effects if taken in very high amounts.
This article is written to be informative and does not substitute seeking a professional consultation from a medical professional.