Vitamins During Pregnancy: Why Do You Need Them?

Vitamins During Pregnancy
Editor's Note: This article has been recently updated with latest information and research studies.
 

Let’s face it, not all vitamins and minerals that our body needs are easily obtained from taking regular diet. Our bodies are not getting enough nutrients, so supplementation may be wanted. Women especially pregnant mothers take vitamin and mineral supplements not only to ensure a healthy pregnancy but more importantly, to warrant that their babies’ optimal nutrition is achieved. This article enumerates the essential vitamins and minerals for women during pregnancy.

Vitamin D

  • Function: Good for bone formation, boosts* immune system, lowers risk of heart disease
  • Recommended Dose: 5 micrograms
  • Food Sources: Milk products, tune fish, cheese, fish, fish liver oils

Reminder: The natural way to obtain vitamin D is to spend few hours outdoor without sunscreen.

Vitamin C

  • Function: Tissue repair, boosts* immune system, protects cells from damage, helps absorb iron
  • Recommended Dose: 80 milligrams
  • Food Sources: Mainly fruits, broccoli, papaya, mashed sweet potato, kiwi, red bell pepper, cabbage

Vitamin A

  • Function: Primarily needed for vision and immune system boost*
  • Recommended Dose: 770 micrograms
  • Food Sources: Carrots, sweet potatoes

Vitamin E

  • Function: For strong immunity and healthy skin
  • Recommended Dose: 15 milligrams
  • Food Sources: Fats, oils, fats in meats, olive oil, corn oil, soybean

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)

  • Function: Helps the body uses up and process carbohydrates and proteins
  • Recommended Dose: 1.4 milligrams
  • Food Sources: Whole grains, bread, cereals

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

  • Function: Plays a role in red blood cell production, converts food into energy
  • Recommended Dose: 1.6 milligrams
  • Food Sources: Bread, milk products

Vitamin B3 (Niacin)

  • Function: Makes cholesterol, helps with digestion
  • Recommended Dose: 18 milligrams
  • Food Sources: Poultry, meat, fish, breads, whole grains

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)

  • Function: Plays in fetal brain development, boosts* immune system, plays a role in metabolism
  • Recommended Dose: 2 milligrams
  • Food Sources: Organ meats, soy products, potatoes
Vitamins

Folic Acid

  • Function: Prevents neural tube defects, plays in cell development, good for the heart
  • Recommended Dose: 600 micrograms
  • Food Sources: Whole grains, dark and leafy vegetables

Iron

  • Function: Red blood cell production, prevents low-birth and premature babies
  • Recommended Dose: 27 milligrams
  • Food Sources: Beef, soy beans, beans, turkey, lentils, beef, spinach

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

  • Function: Benefits vision, good for the heart, supports fetal brain growth and development
  • Recommended Dose: 200 milligrams daily (only 2 servings a week)
  • Food Sources: Mainly fish, tuna, sardines

Zinc

  • Function: Boosts* immune system, important for reproduction
  • Recommended Dose: 12 milligrams
  • Food Sources: Sea foods, red meats

Calcium

  • Functions: Teeth and bone growth and development, blood clothing formation, muscle contraction, prevents high blood pressure
  • Recommended Dose: 1000-1300 milligrams
  • Food Sources: Dairy milk, soy milk, cheese, kale, yogurt

Warning: Avoid soft cheese such as Bel Paese

Phosphorous

  • Functions: Cellular functioning, provides energy, bone growth
  • Recommended Dose: 700 milligrams
  • Food Sources: Milk, dairy products, eggs, meats, cereals

Iodine

  • Function: Thyroid hormone production
  • Recommended Dose: 220 micrograms
  • Food Sources: Seafoods (including sea weeds), iodized salt, dairy products

What are Prenatal Vitamins Supplements?

Despite pregnant mothers following a healthy diet, they still don’t get enough nutrients to meet their body’s needs for baby’s growth and development. As a consequence, doctors recommend pregnant mothers to take prenatal vitamins or supplements in order to get the extra key nutrients. It should be mentioned that these prenatal vitamins are not only taken by mothers DURING pregnancy period but also if they are trying to get pregnant. According to health experts, the ideal time to begin taking prenatal vitamins is three months prior to conception. Neural tube defects and premature birth can be prevented by prenatal supplements, not to mention the folic acid. If mothers are unable to determine they are conceiving a baby. Don’t fret. Just take the supplement as soon as possible. Consumption of prenatal vitamins can continue up to 6 weeks after the delivery of the baby.

Can vitamins Make you Feel Nauseous?

Prenatal vitamins can make pregnant mothers queasy especially during the first trimester where bouts of nausea are very common. To minimize nausea episodes:

  • Take supplements with food, or take them before going to bed.
  • Inform doctor if switching to another supplement, or when taking other drugs.
  • Consider chewable vitamin.

Meanwhile, taking iron supplements can cause constipation. To manage hard stools, drink lots of water and increase* fiber in the diet by eating fruits and vegetables.

When Can Prenatal Vitamins be Harmful?

Too much of a good thing is bad. Prenatal vitamins when taken excessively can bring about some adverse effects to the baby. One case in point is overconsumption of Vitamin A which may cause metabolic birth defects. To steer clear from these side effects, pregnant mothers should take what is only prescribed. In the same manner, Vitamin D when taken in large quantities can cause food allergies after birth. Only follow the doctor’s advice and stick to the daily requirements of vitamins and minerals in pregnant mothers as stated above.

More importantly, never take special or herbal supplements. They don’t have therapeutic claims and their effects to the body are not well proven in studies. Only take what has been approved by the doctor. Mothers who have difficulty tolerating the vitamins can opt for alternatives; for example, fluid vitamins or gummy supplements.

Conclusion

Taking supplements during pregnancy is essential to ensure optimal nutrition is achieved. Prenatal vitamins are best taken before conception but it can also be consumed during and even after delivering the baby. Prenatal vitamins are safe to use although mild side effects may be experienced. Nausea and constipation can be aggravated by taking these supplements, yet they can be easily managed. Prenatal vitamins can be brought over the counter or with prescription. Both of them provide the needed nutrients necessary for the health of the mother and the baby, but reports say that prescription drugs offer more vitamins and minerals.

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Author

Expert Author : Peony C Echavez (Consumer Health Digest)

Peony is a registered nurse, and former Director of Nursing services for a large nursing facility. She has written web content for a large health education website, and currently creates content for a number of health practisioners.