Pregnancy can bring lots of stresses, from baby-proofing the house to taking time off work to attending your hospital appointments! Something which can often bring more stress (but shouldn’t!) is figuring out what supplements are safe to take, and which are not. Supplements are a great idea during pregnancy. Increasing your nutrient intake during pregnancy is important as you need to nourish both you and your baby! Rest assured, there has been lots of research in this field and we have compiled the most reliable information for you in this blog! That being said, it’s best to check with your doctor the supplements you plan to take to ensure you’re taking the right ones for you, and in the correct amounts.
Prenatal vitamins are multivitamins that are specifically formulated to meet the needs of pregnant people. They’re recommended before conception as well as throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding. Prenatal vitamins are not designed to replace a healthy, balanced diet but rather to fill any nutritional gaps! Studies have shown that taking prenatal vitamins during pregnancy decreases the risk of preterm birth and preeclampsia. Be careful when taking these to check the ingredients; note the vitamins you’re taking from this multivitamin to ensure you’re not taking the same vitamin separately.
Probiotics are living microorganisms that are beneficial for digestive health. Though research is ongoing, studies have shown a relationship between supplementing with probiotics and decreased risk of gestational diabetes and postpartum depression as well as baby skin issues. Research has also shown that probiotics are safe to consume while pregnant.
Iron plays a crucial role in transporting oxygen around the body, in the blood. It is also important for the healthy development of the placenta and your baby. Because maternal blood volume increases by about 45% during pregnancy, the need for iron increases substantially. The recommended intake for pregnant people is 27 milligrams daily, which can be met through most prenatal vitamins. However, this may increase if you have anaemia or an iron deficiency, so get in touch with your doctor.
Magnesium is a mineral which has a crucial role in muscle, nerve, and immune functions. Magnesium supplements during pregnancy have been related to an decreased risk of premature labour and complications like foetal growth restriction.
Choline plays a crucial role in your baby’s healthy brain development, reducing the risk of abnormalities in the brain or spine. The current recommended dosage during pregnancy is 450 mg per day, but some research now shows that an increased dosage of 930 mg per day is better. Get in touch with your doctor for their opinion. Also, be aware that choline is typically not contained in prenatal vitamins so a separate supplement is likely necessary.
Vitamin D is essential for your baby’s bone health and immune system. Vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy has appeared to increase the risk of preterm birth, gestational diabetes, and preeclampsia. The current recommended dosage is 15 mcg daily though some experts do argue the dosage should be higher. Again, you may want to check in with your doctor for their advice.
Supplements to Be Cautious of:
Vitamin A is an important vitamin to take during pregnancy for foetal vision development and immunity, however most prenatal vitamins contain vitamin A and too much of this vitamin can be harmful! Our bodies store excess amounts of vitamin A in the liver which, if it accumulates, can lead to liver damage or birth defects. Therefore, avoid taking any vitamin A supplements, outside of your prenatal vitamins and normal diet.
Though vitamin E is important for many bodily functions like immune function and gene expression, it is not recommended to be supplemented during pregnancy. There is no evidence that this vitamin improves outcomes for mother or baby.
Goldenseal is used as a dietary supplement to treat respiratory infections and diarrhoea. However, goldenseal contains a substance called berberine, which has been evidenced to cause jaundice in infants and even increase the risk of kernicterus, which is a type of brain damage that is fatal. Goldenseal should therefore be avoided.
Yohimbe is a herbal remedy used to treat various conditions, including obesity. However, it has been shown to cause high blood pressure, seizures, and heart attacks if taken during pregnancy, so should be avoided.
Black cohosh is a plant found in various remedies, including those for menstrual cramps and hot flashes. However, it should not be supplemented during pregnancy as it can cause uterine contractions, which may induce early labour.
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