Pregnancy can be one of the most exciting and happy experiences in a woman’s life. However, for some moms, pregnancy can be a confusing and stressful time. With pregnancy, all women experience the stress of being sufficient for both themselves and their babies. Balanced nutrition is critical in pregnancy, so what vitamins to take during pregnancy?
Consuming the right nutrients is important at all stages of life, but especially during pregnancy, as pregnant women need to feed both themselves and their growing babies. So, what vitamins should be taken during pregnancy? All the curious details are in our article.
Why should vitamin/supplement be taken during pregnancy?
During pregnancy, a woman’s need for macronutrient intake increases significantly. Macronutrients include carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Vitamins and minerals support maternal and fetal growth at all stages of pregnancy and must support critical functions such as cell growth and cell signaling.
While some women can meet this growing demand with a carefully prepared nutrient-dense diet, others cannot. This is why some pregnant women may need to take vitamin and mineral supplements for a variety of reasons, including:
- Lack of nutrients
Some women are deficient in vitamins or minerals after a blood test and may need supplements. As nutrient deficiencies such as folate have been associated with birth defects, addressing the deficiency is critical.
- Hyperemesis gravidarum
This pregnancy complication is characterized by nausea and vomiting. It can cause weight loss and nutrient deficiency.
- Dietary restrictions
Women who follow certain diets, including vegans, those with food intolerances and allergies, may need to supplement with vitamins and minerals to compensate for their micronutrient deficiencies.
- To smoke
While it is absolutely critical for mothers to avoid smoking during pregnancy, those who continue to smoke have a greater need for certain nutrients such as vitamin C and folate.
- Multiple pregnancies
Women carrying more than one baby need micronutrients more than women carrying a single baby. Supplements are often necessary to ensure optimal nutrition for both mothers and their babies.
- Genetic mutations such as MTHFR
MTHFR is a gene that converts folate into a form the body can use. Pregnant women with this gene mutation may need to be supplemented with a specific form of folate to avoid complications.
Women who consume or prefer foods with the low nutritional value may need to take vitamin and mineral supplements to prevent deficiencies.
Vitamin supplements that are safe in pregnancy or Which vitamins should be taken during pregnancy?
Just like medications, all micronutrients and herbal supplements must be approved and supervised by your doctor to ensure they’re essential and taken in safe amounts.
1- Prenatal vitamins
Prenatal vitamins are multivitamins specially formulated to meet the increased demand for micronutrients during pregnancy. It is intended to be taken before pregnancy, during pregnancy, and during lactation.
Observational studies have shown that prenatal vitamin supplementation reduces the risk of prenatal preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and signs of damage to another organ system (most commonly the liver and kidneys).
Although prenatal vitamins are not intended to replace healthy eating, they can help prevent nutritional gaps by providing extra micronutrients that are in high demand during pregnancy.
Because prenatal vitamins contain the vitamins and minerals pregnant women need, it may not be necessary to take additional vitamin or mineral supplements unless recommended by your doctor.
Prenatal vitamins are often prescribed by doctors.
Folate is a B vitamin that plays an integral role in DNA synthesis, red blood cell production, fetal growth, and development. Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate found in many supplements. In the body, active folate is converted into L-methyl folate form.
Pregnant women are recommended to take 600 µg of folate or folic acid daily to reduce the risk of neural tube defects and congenital abnormalities such as the cleft palate and heart defects. Although adequate folate can be obtained through the diet, most women do not eat enough folate-rich foods, making supplementation necessary. It is recommended that all women of childbearing age consume at least 400 mg of folate or folic acid per day.
While maternal blood volume increases by about 50%, the need for iron during pregnancy also increases significantly. Iron is essential for oxygen transport and the healthy growth and development of the fetus and placenta. The purpose of the supplement is to prevent anemia that may occur over time in pregnant women and to prevent possible blood loss at birth. Anemia during pregnancy has been associated with premature birth, maternal depression, and infant anemia.
The recommended intake of 27 mg of iron per day can be met with most prenatal vitamins. However, pregnant women with iron deficiency or anemia need higher iron doses recommended by their doctor. Pregnant women with iron deficiency should not take more than the recommended iron intake to avoid negative side effects. These can cause constipation, vomiting, and abnormally high hemoglobin levels.
4- vitamin D
Vitamin D is important for immune function, bone health, and cell division. Vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of cesarean section, preeclampsia, preterm labor, and gestational diabetes. Recommended vitamin D intake during pregnancy is 600 IU per day. However, some experts suggest that the need for vitamin D is much higher during pregnancy. All pregnant women should consult their doctor for vitamin D deficiency and appropriate supplementation.
Magnesium is a mineral involved in hundreds of chemical reactions in your body. It plays a critical role in immune, muscle, and nerve functions. Deficiency of this mineral during pregnancy can increase the risk of chronic hypertension and preterm labor. Some studies show that magnesium supplementation may reduce the risk of complications such as fetal growth restriction and premature birth.
Ginger root is often used as a spice and herbal supplement. In addition, it is most commonly used to treat nausea caused by motion sickness, pregnancy, or chemotherapy. Studies have shown that ginger is both safe and effective in the treatment of pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting. Nausea and vomiting are common during pregnancy, occurring in 80% of women in the first trimester of pregnancy.
7- Fish Oil
Fish oil contains DHA and EPA, two essential fatty acids important for fetal brain development. Supplementing DHA and EPA during pregnancy can improve infant brain development and reduce maternal depression, but research on this topic is not conclusive. In order for DHA and EPA to be taken through the diet, it is recommended that pregnant women consume two to three servings of low amounts of salmon, sardines, or cod per week.
Zinc intake during pregnancy reduces the risk of premature birth and low birth weight. These possibilities are higher in women who are malnourished in terms of zinc. Zinc increases the regeneration of tissues through the proliferation of cells. It is necessary for growth. Zinc requirement during pregnancy can be met with seafood, meat, fish, egg yolk, milk, legumes, and oilseeds.
9- Vitamin C
Vitamin C requirement increases during pregnancy due to the higher blood volume in the mother and the growth of the unborn baby. Vitamin C is important for collagen formation, which is particularly important in blood vessels. Vitamin C protects cells and helps them to be healthy. Vitamin C also increases the absorption of iron in your diet. Pregnant women need about 60mg of vitamin C per day. An excellent source of vitamin C includes fruits and vegetables.
Calcium is essential for building your baby’s bones and teeth. Dairy products and edible fish with bones (such as sardines) are rich in calcium. Other sources of calcium are breakfast cereals, dried fruits (such as figs and apricots) bread, almonds, tofu (a vegetable protein made from soybeans), watercress, broccoli, green leafy vegetables such as kale.
Recommended dietary calcium intake per day for pregnant women over 18 years old is 1000 mg and for teenagers aged 14-18 years 1300 mg. If you do not get enough calcium in your daily diet, talk to your doctor about taking calcium supplements. Along with vitamin D, calcium is complementary in maintaining bone health.
Iodine is an essential mineral we get from the food we eat. Infants, infants, and young children developing in the womb are at the greatest risk from an iodine-deficient diet. Iodine is required by the human body in very small but significant amounts. Iodine is essential for the production of thyroid hormone, which regulates body temperature, metabolic rate, reproduction, growth, blood cell production, and nerve and muscle function. Thyroid hormone is produced in the thyroid gland in the neck. Mild to moderate iodine deficiency can result in learning difficulties and affect the development of motor skills and hearing. Although seafood is a good source of iodine, the amount of iodine in other foods such as milk and vegetables depends on the amount of iodine in the soil.
Probiotics are living microorganisms thought to be beneficial for digestive health. Many studies have shown that probiotics are safe during pregnancy and no harmful side effects were detected, apart from the extremely low risk of probiotic-induced infections. Additionally, some studies have shown that supplementing with probiotics can reduce the risk of gestational diabetes, postpartum depression, and infant eczema, and dermatitis. Research on probiotic use in pregnancy is still ongoing. It is certain that more exploration is needed regarding the role of probiotics in maternal and fetal health.
NOTE: It is important that only a healthcare professional recommends that pregnant women should take vitamin supplements.