Are Dietary Supplements Safe to Take During Pregnancy? A Comprehensive Guide

Pregnant women may benefit from supplementing with certain micronutrients and herbs, but many should be avoided or taken in moderation. If you have food allergies, are vegetarian, or can't eat certain foods, your healthcare provider may suggest taking a supplement to make up for the lack of certain nutrients in the food you eat. For instance, your healthcare provider may recommend taking a vitamin supplement to get more vitamin D, iron, or calcium. Folic acid is a B vitamin that every cell in the body needs for healthy growth and development.

Taking folic acid before and during the early stages of pregnancy can help prevent neural tube defects (NTDs), which are birth defects of the brain and spine. Studies also show that taking folic acid can help prevent heart and congenital defects in the baby's mouth (cleft lip and cleft palate). Check the product label to see how much folic acid it contains. Don't take multiple multivitamins or prenatal vitamins as you may consume an excessive amount of other nutrients, which can be harmful to your health.

Your provider can help you determine the best and safest way to get the right amount of folic acid. You can also get folic acid from food. Citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables, and beans are excellent sources of folic acid. Some foods are also fortified with folic acid, such as cereals, bread, rice, and pasta.

The body uses iron to produce hemoglobin, a protein that helps carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. During pregnancy, you need twice as much iron as before pregnancy. Your body needs this iron to produce more blood so it can bring oxygen to your baby. Your baby needs iron to produce his own blood.

Foods that contain vitamin C can increase the amount of iron your body absorbs. It's a good idea to eat foods such as orange juice, tomatoes, strawberries and grapefruits every day. Calcium (in dairy products such as milk) and coffee, tea, egg yolks, fiber, and soy can prevent the body from absorbing iron. Try to avoid them when you eat iron-rich foods.

If you don't consume enough calcium during pregnancy, your body takes it from your bones and gives it to your baby. This can cause health problems such as osteoporosis later in life. Osteoporosis causes bones to become thin and break easily. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium.

It also helps the body's nerves, muscles, and immune system work. The immune system protects the body from infections. Vitamin D helps your baby's bones and teeth grow. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is a type of fat (omega-3 fatty acid) that helps growth and development.

During pregnancy, you need DHA to help your baby's brain and eyes develop. Not all prenatal vitamins contain DHA, so ask your healthcare provider if you need to take a DHA supplement. Iodine is a mineral that the body needs to produce thyroid hormones which help the body use and store energy from food. You need iodine during pregnancy to help the baby's nervous system develop.

The nervous system (brain, spinal cord, and nerves) helps the baby move, think and feel. During pregnancy, you need 220 micrograms of iodine every day. Not all prenatal vitamins contain iodine so be sure to eat foods that contain iodine. Ask your provider if you need to take an iodine supplement.

During pregnancy you need folic acid, iron, calcium, vitamin D, choline, omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins and vitamin C - see the table below for recommended quantities. Do not take cod liver oil or any supplement containing vitamin A (retinol) during pregnancy as too much vitamin A could harm your baby. Meeting your daily nutrient needs during pregnancy is necessary to keep up with your rapidly changing maternal metabolism as maternal nutrition is essential for healthy growth and development of the fetus. In fact more and more research suggests that effects of prenatal nutrition may extend into adulthood as there are certain vitamins and minerals that are crucial for healthy development such as iron folate vitamin D and vitamin B12 all of which help the fetus grow properly so it's important to know vitamins minerals needed by pregnant women as well as additional needs for supplements and macronutrients.

Doctors often recommend pregnant patients take a supplement providing omega-3 fatty acids especially DHA as DHA is key part of healthy brain development in babies plus benefits of taking omega-3 fatty acids extend into postnatal nutrition with researchers suggesting rapid fatty acid depletion during pregnancy breastfeeding may contribute postpartum melancholy plus omega-3s good for heart overall health. The ACOG recommends pregnant breastfeeding women eat least two servings fish seafood per week help increase intake omega-3 however raw undercooked fish one foods should avoided during pregnancy one foods should avoided limited while breastfeeding plus should also avoid fish high levels mercury during pregnancy. Most prenatal vitamins contain around 200 milligrams DHA however American Pregnancy Association recommends looking for prenatal vitamin minimum 300 milligrams DHA reference one serving Womb Service Step 2 Prenatal DHA HUM contains 350 milligrams. Calcium is most abundant mineral in the body well known for its ability to maintain strong bones teeth but less well known are its other important functions such as its role in blood circulation hormonal regulation fluid balance muscle movement Adult women should try to consume 1 000 milligrams of calcium per day although calcium requirements don't increase during pregnancy it is very important to make sure you're getting enough calcium in fact calcium...

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