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Vitamins and Supplements During Pregnancy

Vitamins and Supplements During Pregnancy

Maintaining a balanced healthy diet is essential during pregnancy. It’s always best to get vitamins and minerals naturally from the food you eat. However, during this pregnancy, your body needs additional vitamins and minerals to keep you and your baby in optimum health.

Essential Supplements during Pregnancy

In general, most pregnant mothers are advised to take the following supplements:

  • 10 micrograms of Vitamin D, Daily throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Vitamin D helps to keep bones and teeth healthy, and you need to take Vitamin D supplements during pregnancy and breastfeeding to ensure your baby has enough during its first vital months of life. Children without sufficient Vitamin D can develop bone diseases such as rickets. You can get natural Vitamin D from foods such as salmon, mackerel, eggs, meat, soya products, some dairy products and certain breakfast cereals. Morning sunlight is also a great natural source of Vitamin D.

  • 400 micrograms of folic acid daily until 12 weeks of pregnancy are completed

Folic acid is important during pregnancy as it helps prevent birth defects. Plan on taking a 400 micrograms folic acid tablet daily while you’re trying to get pregnant and until you are 12 weeks pregnant. If you didn’t take folic acid supplements before you conceived, make sure to start as soon as you find out. If you are diabetic or have a family history of neural tube defects or epilepsy, consult your doctor for advice as you may need to take a higher dose of folic acid. Some foods such as green leafy vegetables, certain breakfast cereals, breads, margarines and brown rice contain the natural form of folic acid, so make sure you incorporate these into your diet plan.

In addition to the above, you may also want to make sure your diet is giving you the following essential vitamins and minerals which are important during pregnancy. If you are uncertain, check with your doctor about whether you need to take them as supplements.

  • Iron

Natural Sources: lean meat, green leafy vegetables, dried fruit, and nuts

  • Vitamin B6

 Natural Sources: chicken, yams, asparagus, and broccoli

  • Vitamin C

Natural Sources: most fruit and vegetables, including broccoli, citrus fruits, tomatoes, and bell peppers

  • Calcium

Natural Sources: Dairy products, small fish, dried fruit, almonds, tofu, green leafy vegetables, broccoli.

Check with your doctor to make sure appropriate antenatal vitamins and supplements are prescribed according to your body’s individual needs. Take care not to take Vitamin A supplements or any other supplement that may contain Vitamin A, as too much of this can harm your baby.

Fish Oil Supplements

If you include fish in your weekly diet, chances are you won’t require additional fish oil. Check with your doctor if you think you need fish oil supplements. In general, the following rules apply:

Supplements made using oil extracted from the body of fish (omega 3 supplements) are usually safe during pregnancy

Supplements made using extracts from fish liver, such as cod liver oil, are not recommended

Vegetarians, Vegans and Pregnant Mothers with Special Dietary Restrictions

A varied and well balanced vegetarian diet should provide sufficient nutrients for you and your baby during pregnancy. However, if you are uncertain, make sure you check with your doctor if you need to take any supplements to make up for the lack of meat, fish, and egg in your daily diet.

If you are vegan (you do not take any animal products including milk) or you are on a restricted diet due to food allergies or intolerances, check with your doctor about additional vitamins and supplements you may need to take to ensure your body has all the nutrients you need for you and your baby.

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