During pregnancy, moms and their babies need extra nutrients to nourish their bodies. It is especially important to eat a healthy diet and get enough vitamins and minerals to cover your unique nutritional needs. Here are some essential nutrients you may need to stay healthy during this exciting time.
The Debate About Prenatal Vitamins and Pregnancy
Most Americans fall short in key nutrients, and pregnancy is no exception. Dietary supplements and prenatal vitamins can help bridge nutritional gaps to support a mother and baby’s overall health.
However, scientists debate whether or not taking prenatal multivitamins is necessary during pregnancy. A report from the Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin suggests that multivitamins and mineral supplements designed for pregnancy often include unnecessary extra ingredients. (source)
On the other hand, Dr. Duffy MacKay from The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), defends the use of prenatal multivitamin supplements for pregnant women.
“Reputable medical organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Endocrine Society, and the American Thyroid Association, recommend that pregnant women take a multivitamin as a way to assure they are getting adequate nutrients that are critical for the development and well-being of the fetus, as well as for their own health,” Dr. MacKay says.
Despite the debate, researchers agree that a nutrient deficiency may have a negative long-term effect on the health of you and your baby. Follow the guide below to learn more about the potential benefits of taking dietary supplements and prenatal vitamins.
According to the Mayo Clinic, prenatal vitamins complement a healthy diet and contain more essential vitamins and minerals than regular adult multivitamins.
Look for a prenatal vitamin that includes calcium, folate, iodine, iron, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acid and vitamin D. Other potentially beneficial vitamins and minerals to take during pregnancy are vitamins A, C, and E, zinc, copper, as well as probiotics.
Natural Healthy Concepts offers a wide range of prenatal multivitamin supplements for your unique nutritional needs. Here are some of our best sellers.
Organic Prenatal Whole Food Multi for Mom and Baby from Pure Synergy is a prenatal dietary supplement made from organically grown whole food vitamins and minerals that supports moms through pre-conception, pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Perfect Prenatal Multivitamin from New Chapter is a whole-food multivitamin that is ideal for the first full 90-day trimester, and supports healthy pregnancy and fetal development.
Prenatal Nutrients from Pure Encapsulations provides vitamin and mineral support for pregnant and lactating women in a hypoallergenic, highly bioavailable multivitamin and multi-mineral formula.
Vitamin and Mineral Supplements
In addition to prenatal multivitamins, here are some of the essential vitamins and minerals that may help support the health of you and your growing baby during pregnancy.
Calcium supports strong, healthy bones and teeth in moms and babies. You can get some calcium by drinking milk, eating dairy products, broccoli, dark, leafy greens or sardines, but taking a calcium supplement will help you get the recommended daily dose of 1,000 mg.
According to WebMD, folic acid, also known as folate, is a B vitamin that is critical for fetal growth. Specifically, folate supports the health of your baby’s delicate, developing brain and spinal cord. You can find folate in organic green leafy vegetables, as well as some nuts, beans and citrus fruits. According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), pregnant women may need between 600-1200 mcg of natural folate daily. That’s why it is important to talk to your healthcare provider about supplementing your diet with extra folate during pregnancy.
Iodine supports thyroid function during pregnancy. Without enough iodine, you may have a higher risk of miscarriage or stillbirth. The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) recommends getting at least 150 mcg of iodine daily for pregnant women.
More Essential Nutrition
Iron helps red blood cells carry oxygen to organs and tissues in both the mother and baby, and it helps protect against anemia. ACOG suggests that pregnant women need double the amount of iron in their diet than other women. You can get iron by eating lean red meat, poultry, fish, dried beans and peas, but a dietary supplement of iron is recommended to fill nutritional gaps. Vitamin C has been shown to help with the absorption of iron. The daily recommended dose of iron during pregnancy is 27 mg.
Magnesium may support fetal growth, and help mom’s tissue growth and recovery during pregnancy. It may also promote nutritional transfer to the baby through the placenta. As a general rule, don’t exceed 500 mg per day of magnesium from all sources unless advised by your doctor.
Omega-3 Fatty Acid
Omega-3 fatty acids may promote healthy brain development in the fetus. That’s why if you don’t eat fish or other foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, you may want to take an omega-3 fatty acid supplement in addition to prenatal vitamins.
Vitamin D (in the form of vitamin D3) supports calcium in growing bones and teeth, especially during the third trimester, and promotes healthy skin, eyesight and overall immune function. Some research suggests that vitamin D may also help protect against gestational diabetes. You can get some vitamin D by eating salmon or by getting some natural sunlight, but taking a daily dietary supplement may help you get the 600 international units of vitamin D recommended per day.
Taking a probiotic supplement of “good bacteria” may help support the digestive system and healthy immune response of moms and babies and may promote a healthy birthing process.
Plan Healthy Meals During Pregnancy and Nursing
In addition to taking the right dietary supplements during pregnancy, moms need to eat a healthy, nutrient-rich diet to support you and your baby’s health. (source). Healthy options include:
- High-quality protein (organic grass-fed beef; free-range poultry and eggs; wild-caught seafood)
- Dark green vegetables
- Healthy fats (coconut oil, which may support baby’s brain development and healthy immune function; organic extra virgin olive oil; avocados; nuts)
- Other high-nutrient foods (homemade bone broth; fermented vegetables like homemade sauerkraut; berries; green smoothies)
If you need suggestions for planning healthy meals during pregnancy, the United States Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate website provides the “SuperTracker” program, which shows you the types and amounts of nutrient-rich food you should eat each day during every trimester of your pregnancy.
Things to Avoid During Pregnancy
Studies have shown that the following substances may harm moms and babies during pregnancy. It is important to talk to your healthcare provider if you have any concerns about avoiding these substances while you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Aluminum in antiperspirants
- Any herbs, drugs, or medicines without approval from your doctor
- Artificial dyes or colors in food
- Artificial sweeteners
- BPA and plastic containers
- Chemicals in household cleaners
- Diet sodas or foods
- High fructose corn syrup
- Hot dogs, luncheon meats, and cold cuts
- MSG or chemical additives
- Raw and undercooked seafood, eggs and meat
- Refrigerated meat spreads
- Refrigerated smoked seafood
- Sugars or sweeteners
- Unpasteurized milk
- Vegetable oils and trans fats
Your Unique Nutritional Needs
According to Dr. MacKay, the scientific evidence is clear. “Requirements for folic acid, calcium, iron, iodine, protein and other nutrients go up during pregnancy, and the consequences of not getting enough can be significant for both mother and child,” he says.
However, each woman has her own unique nutritional needs during pregnancy. Be sure to contact your obstetrician-gynecologist or healthcare provider to be sure you are taking the correct supplements for your body and pregnancy.
Did you take supplements during pregnancy? Are you pregnant now? We’d love to hear your story in the comments below!