If you’re pregnant, you’re obviously eating all the cabbage, salmon and whole grains you can … right?
Many future mothers eat everything they can for the first few months thanks to a little thing called morning sickness and an over-sensitive nose. If you have this problem – you need good prenatal vitamins.
And that’s exactly why prenatal vitamins or, even called, pregnancy supplements were invented.
What exactly are pregnancy supplements?
“Pregnancy supplements are there to fill any nutritional gaps and make sure there is an abundance of all the vital nutrients your child needs to grow, especially magnesium, zinc, calcium, vitamins B and C and folic acid,” says G. Thomas Ruiz, MD, gynecologist at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California.
The additional folate, in particular, is very important as it has been shown to reduce neural tube defects in children and at least 400 micrograms are needed daily, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Most of these vitamins are water-soluble, which means you’ll pee in excess, says Dr. Ruiz. However, there is one exception to this rule: iron, which can be toxic at high doses.
Pregnant women need 30-60 milligrams of iron every day, according to WHO guidelines. Most prenatal vitamins are enriched with extra iron, so as long as you land on what is in your prenatal daily life (and without supplementing, even more, iron), you’ll be fine, says Dr. Ruiz. (Warning: if you are anemic, you may need more iron, so Dr. Ruiz recommends that you discuss your individual needs with your doctor.)
Okay, so when will I need to take these supplements for pregnancy?
Ideally, you should start taking them as soon as you start trying to conceive, says Dr. Ruiz. (FYI: It’s a myth that they can increase your fertility, though.) Your baby will need those extra nutrients from the moment of conception, explains Dr. Ruiz.
He continues to take vitamins throughout the pregnancy and then advises you for the duration of the breastfeeding period.
What do I need in pregnancy supplements?
The key is to make sure you start taking a vitamin with at least 400 micrograms of folic acid as soon as possible (yes, even before conception if possible). You should also look for options that will help you meet the recommended daily amounts of 600 units of vitamin D, 1,000 mg of calcium and at least 27 mg of iron, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).
What about the other ingredients listed? There is no strict and quick rule on how much, say, biotin you should take in the register, because “biotin and many of the other mineral amounts are not supported by scientific evidence when it comes to the absolute amounts required “Explains Dr. McDonald.
So the question still remains: Which vitamin is the right prenatal vitamin? Although it’s different for everyone (for example, some people may have stomach problems against each other), here are the best medically approved prenatal vitamins on the market, including the best selling Amazon vitamins to add to the cart.
Vitamins in pregnancy mandatory
Taking supplements of vitamins and minerals during pregnancy is not compulsory but recommended by gynecologists. Choosing not to take them means giving up the possibility of reducing the risks for oneself and one’s child, even if one follows a healthy and balanced diet, rich in all the nutrients essential for pregnancy, prenatal vitamins guarantee a greater and safer supply of every single element necessary for the health of the child and the mother.
Vitamins in pregnancy yes or no
A healthy diet is the best way to provide the body and the fetus with the nourishment they need, but very often there are gaps that must be filled in order to reduce the risk of complications and serious malformations. Let us see which ones.
If you do not take enough folic acid (vitamin B) before conception and during the first few weeks of pregnancy, there is an increased risk of neural tube and brain defects, the best known of which is spina bifida. It is difficult to take the recommended amount of folic acid (400-600 mcg per day) with a simple diet, so it is extremely recommended to supplement. Folic acid prevents malformations of the neural tube, as I said, and should be taken well before conception, as soon as pregnancy begins to plan because the closure of the neural tube occurs in the first weeks of gestation, often when the woman does not yet know she is pregnant,
Integrating iron is important to avoid facing iron-related anemia, it is a disorder associated with an increased risk of premature birth, low birth weight and can compromise proper brain development, breathing and immune system.
Fundamental to prevent complications such as diabetes management, preeclampsia, depression Difficult to take the right amount of vitamin D only with food so it is good to supplement.
Iodine deficiency can be very harmful to the development of the child’s brain and in extreme cases is linked to an increased risk of miscarriage and death at birth.
Integration during pregnancy is essential because the fetus absorbs calcium from the mother’s bones and teeth; if it is not integrated, there is a risk of osteoporosis and bone fragility.
In short, we can choose not to take a vitamin supplement during pregnancy, but what is certain is that some vitamins are really essential for the health of mother and child and therefore it is necessary to supplement.
Lutein in pregnancy: what is it for?
During pregnancy and breastfeeding your doctor may prescribe a multivitamin supplement that also contains lutein.
But what is lutein and what is it for?
It is a natural substance from calendula and has exceptional antioxidant properties. It promotes proper development of the eyes and retina of the fetus during pregnancy. It also protects against the sun’s rays and prevents degeneration of the macula and cataracts. Its antioxidant action protects against damage caused by free radicals and cellular aging.
Where lutein is found
Normally, you only need to eat in a healthy and varied way to ensure the right amount of lutein. This substance is present in many vegetables such as basil, spinach, tomatoes, pumpkin, carrots, cabbage, fruit such as apricots and kiwis and egg yolk, but during pregnancy and lactation can be useful a supplement that guarantees the achievement of at least 4-6 mm per day.
Are vitamins fattening during pregnancy?
Multivitamin supplements provide almost zero calories so they cannot be responsible for the extra pounds themselves. What can happen, and what happens to many people, is that if you take these supplements you get hungry. Why is that? On the one hand, because you can feel more energetic and stronger and this would push you to want to eat more, on the other hand, we know well that the B vitamins are involved in the energy mechanisms of our body and therefore their integration can push the body to require a greater amount of caloric foods.
Multivitamins have multiple effects during pregnancy
Multivitamins do much more than provide the folic acid needed to grow children, according to a study conducted at the University of Pittsburgh.
Researchers found that pregnant women taking a multivitamin or prenatal vitamin regularly reduced their risk of preeclampsia by 45%. Preeclampsia, which causes high blood pressure and protein in the urine, is a major cause of premature birth and fetal death.
Despite the benefits, it is possible that swallowing supplements for pregnancy is difficult. The pills are often large and contain high doses of iron which can irritate the stomach and cause constipation.
“If you find that you have problems taking prenatal vitamins or have unwanted side effects, talk to your doctor about other safe options,” recommends Jennifer Shu, MD, pediatrician and co-author of Going Home with your baby: from birth to reality.
And always tell your doctor or midwife about all the dietary supplements you take, including herbal remedies.