No matter what people think, supplements and vitamins during pregnancy aren’t as bad as often advertised. A healthy pregnancy diet is vital, but pregnancy food aversions and a few other things can make it hard to provide optimal nourishment for you and your growing baby. The benefits of some vitamin supplements can far outweigh the possibility of adverse effects when taken in proper dosage.
Sure, sometimes it’s hard to know what’s safe and what’s not when it comes to taking supplements during pregnancy. That’s why we’ve created this guide. In this guide, you will discover everything related to supplements and pregnancy.
Let’s begin by addressing the most common question:
Can You Take Supplements While Pregnant?
The answer is yes, but it depends on the supplement you’re taking. Most prenatal vitamins and supplements are just fine to take while pregnant, while a few others are best to avoid, such as dietary and herbal supplements, which the FDA regulates as foods, not drugs. That’s why it’s important to consult with your doctor before taking any supplements while pregnant.
Since supplement manufacturers aren’t required to run clinical trials to prove their effectiveness and safety, it’s crucial to buy pregnancy supplements only from reputable brands.
When approved and directed by a healthcare professional, taking supplements during pregnancy can have several benefits.
Why Take Supplements During Pregnancy?
The idea of taking extra vitamins or minerals during pregnancy is not new, and more women are taking supplements while expecting.
The choice to be healthy isn’t just for themselves. It’s also key to facilitating a healthy prenatal environment for a growing fetus. There are several reasons you should take supplements during pregnancy:
1) The most important reason to take vitamins and minerals during pregnancy is that they are essential for your child’s development.
2) Nutrient deficiency is prevalent and can affect your baby’s brain development if unaddressed.
3) Pregnancy can be stressful for you both physically and mentally. Taking nutritional supplements can help you manage stress and avoid nutrient deficiencies that would otherwise lead to other health problems, such as low iron levels, depression, anxiety, etc.
4) Getting enough calcium, magnesium, and iron during pregnancy is crucial. These three nutrients help develop strong bones and teeth in your baby. If you’re not getting enough of these through food sources, then taking supplements can help you meet these needs.
Now you know the benefits of taking supplements. But it’s important to know which supplements are safe or unsafe during pregnancy.
Supplements Likely Safe During Pregnancy
Listed below are some types of supplements that are considered safe during pregnancy:
Folate: Folate (folic acid) is a B vitamin that helps prevent neural tube defects, such as spina bifida, in babies. CDC recommends that pregnant women should take 400 micrograms of folic acid daily.
Iron: Iron is essential for your baby’s body and brain development. You’ll need 27 milligrams (mg) of iron each day during pregnancy, according to the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Iron supplements may cause constipation or gastric upset, so discuss them with your healthcare provider before taking them.
Prenatal Vitamins: Prenatal vitamins provide the proper nutrition for both you and your developing baby throughout your pregnancy. Prenatal vitamins have a blend of nutrients that can help you avoid deficiencies during this time. Your doctor is best suited to prescribe these vitamins prior to conception and then again during each trimester to ensure a healthy pregnancy outcome.
Magnesium: Calcium and magnesium work together in the body and must be balanced. A magnesium deficiency can cause an imbalance in calcium, leading to cramping, leg pains, constipation, and other common issues during pregnancy.
Probiotics: In clinical studies, researchers have found that probiotics can help manage nausea and boost immunity. They are also helpful in alleviating constipation during pregnancy. Check with your doctor before taking any probiotic formulas and ensure they are labeled “safe for pregnancy.”
Choline: It is an essential nutrient during pregnancy because it helps prevent neural tube defects. You can find choline in eggs, meat, and fish.
Ginger Root: There is no scientific evidence that ginger root is harmful to pregnant women when consumed in moderation. Ginger root has anti-nausea properties and will help ease morning sickness symptoms.
Fish Oil: Fish oil supplements help reduce inflammation during pregnancy. Thus, it diminishes risks of premature birth, preeclampsia (a serious complication involving high blood pressure and elevated blood sugar), and postpartum depression. Fish oil also contains DHA, which is essential for brain development in the fetus.
Potentially Unsafe Supplements for Pregnancy
Vitamin A: Vitamin A, which is found in high levels in egg yolks, fish liver oil, and many kinds of animal liver, can harm your unborn child. The vitamin is necessary for growth, but overindulgence can cause birth defects. Only take a Vitamin A supplement if your doctor prescribes it.
Vitamin E: This vitamin might cause serious congenital disabilities in babies if taken in high doses during pregnancy. It may also cause a rupture in the amniotic sac.
Black Cohosh: Even though it is commonly used as a natural remedy for menstrual cramps, there isn’t enough data about its safety for pregnant women. In fact, one particular study suggests that overindulging in black cohosh could lead to uterus contraction, inducing premature labor.
Goldenseal: The FDA warns against using this herb because it contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which can cause brain damage in the fetus.
Tobacco: Tobacco is one example of an herbal supplement associated with pregnancy complications. Pregnant women should avoid smoking, chewing tobacco, or using snuff because they contain nicotine, which can cause miscarriage or premature labor during pregnancy.
Other unsafe herbal supplements also include:
- Dong Quai
- John’s Wort
- Red clover
- Saw palmetto
Taking the right supplements can help you meet your nutritional needs. But as you already know that some supplements, if used in high doses for an extended period, can cause serious harm to an expecting mother and child.
However, responsible and educated users of nutritional supplements should be fine as long as they consult a trained professional before taking supplements. Always stick to recommended dosages and take precautions.