Do’s and don’ts of supplementing during pregnancy

While it’s important to supplement during pregnancy, it’s wise to know what supplements you can take, and which ones it’s best to avoid.

Even though your diet may be close to perfect, it’s difficult to get all the nutrients you and your baby need from food alone during pregnancy. Pregnant women and nursing mothers often need more nutrients than other women. Although research has suggested that a balanced diet is sufficient to ensure the healthy development of your baby in utero, pregnant women still require extra folic acid, iodine and iron.

ALSO SEE: 5 do’s and don’ts of pregnancy nutrition

Benefits of prenatal vitamins

  • Specially formulated prenatal vitamins and supplements are the building blocks for your unborn baby’s growth during the early stages of pregnancy and they can help to reduce foetal problems.
  • The intake of folic acid before and during pregnancy significantly reduces the risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida.
  • You need to start taking your prenatal vitamins before you’ve reached the first 13 weeks of pregnancy however, as this is the most important period of your baby’s development.

Supplements to use with care

The following list of supplements should rather be avoided for the duration of your pregnancy, unless your doctor has given you the green light:

  • Herbs. While they can be very beneficial for your health when used properly, many are contraindicated as they affect the normal functioning of your body during pregnancy and can increase your risk of having a miscarriage.
  • Most vitamins and minerals are safe to use during pregnancy, if taken in moderation. Large doses of vitamins and minerals such as iron or Vitamin A can be dangerous to your unborn baby’s health.
  • Weight loss supplements are not recommended at all during pregnancy. Rather follow a healthy eating plan and an exercise program if you would like to lose weight.
  • Amino acids should be avoided during pregnancy, unless taken under the supervision of your doctor and cleared by him. Not much is known about the safeness of amino acids during pregnancy, so it’s best to try and include amino acids in your diet, rather than taking a supplement. Stock up on meat, eggs and diary.

ALSO SEE: Your guide to nutrition during pregnancy

Safe supplements you can use during pregnancy

  • Prenatal Multi-Vitamin and Mineral. These vitamins include small doses of all the major vitamins and minerals needed for a healthy pregnancy.
  • Digestive enzymes. These aid digestion and can help with the heavy feeling many pregnant women experience after eating or with heartburn.
  • Probiotics. These can come in handy if you are constipated and to fight off a yeast overgrowth during pregnancy.
  • Essential fatty acids like purified fish oil or Omega 3 are recommended during pregnancy. Essential fatty acids are very important for your baby’s brain and immune development.
  • Homeopathic remedies are safe to use for common pregnancy niggles. If you are not familiar with homeopathy, consult with a trained homeopath first.

ALSO SEE: Homeopathic remedies that are safe to use during pregnancy

Recommended daily allowance for main vitamins needed during pregnancy:

Vitamin C 85mg
Vitamin D 200IU
Vitamin E 15mg
Vitamin B1 1.14mg
Vitamin B6 1.9mg
Folic acid 600mcg
Vitamin B12 2.6mcg
Biotin 30mcg
Pantothenic acid 6mg
Calcium 1 000mg
Iorn 27mg
Iodine 220ugs
Magnesium 350mg
Zinc 11mg
Copper 1 000mcg
Manganese 2mg
Chromium 30mcg

 

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