Updated: Jan-03-2020

The Truth About Pregnancy Supplements

If you are pregnant, you need to be very careful about taking prenatal vitamins or any other type of dietary supplements.
pregnancy supplements
Prenatal vitamins can help pregnant women receive the nutrients essential to their babies' growth. Photo via Shutterstock

Most pregnant and nursing women are advised by their physicians to take pregnancy supplements in conjunction with a well-balanced diet to ensure that they get the proper nourishment their body needs.

Doing so will help not only their body to stay healthy, but also their baby's. If you're a pregnant woman looking for some advice regarding pregnancy supplements, you've come to the right place.

Refer to the article below to learn more.

What are Pregnancy Supplements?

Pregnancy supplements are dietary supplements developed and prescribed to meet the increased demand for important nutrients during pregnancy and lactation. These include vitamins, minerals, and trace elements which support both maternal and fetal growth.

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Possible Reasons for Taking Pregnancy Supplements

According to studies, supplementation before and/or during pregnancy helps reduce the risk for complications such as preterm birth and preeclampsia.

Preeclampsia, formerly known as toxemia, is a potentially dangerous complication characterized by high blood pressure in pregnant women who have no history of such. Women with this condition may also have protein in their urine and swelling of the hands, legs, and feet. It can manifest at any stage of pregnancy, but it is often observed during the late stages or even after delivery.

Also, while some women are able to meet the growing demand for nutrients during pregnancy and lactation by switching to a nutrient-rich diet, many others simply can't due to various reasons.

These include, but are not limited to:

  • Hyperemesis gravidarum: described by many as a much more intense form of morning sickness, it is a condition characterized by severe nausea and vomiting which often results in weight loss, electrolyte disturbance, and nutrient deficiencies. It is believed to be brought about by fluctuations in hormone levels, but the exact cause remains unidentified. There is no known treatment, but the complications may be addressed by taking pregnancy supplements.
  • Dietary restrictions: women on specific diets (i.e. vegans, vegetarians) and those with food allergies and/or intolerances may require pregnancy supplements in order to prevent nutrient deficiencies.
  • Multiple pregnancies: having more than one baby means greater nutrient requirement. Even with a nutrient-rich diet, supplementation may be necessary to avoid adverse pregnancy outcomes, as well as to ensure optimal nutrition of the mother and her babies.
  • Genetic mutations: the mutation that's among the greatest concern for pregnant women is the MTHFR gene mutation. MTHFR gene instructs the body to produce the enzyme that converts folate and other vitamins into their usable forms. It also plays a role in processing amino acids and many other important compounds.

What are the Key Ingredients to Look for in Pregnancy Supplements?

These include, but are not limited to:

As for herbal supplements, the following were also proven to be beneficial particularly for breastfeeding mothers:

  • Ginger Root- This popular spice has been found to be effective in the non-pharmacologic management of pregnancy-associated nausea and vomiting.
  • Fenugreek - This herb has been used for centuries to increase milk production, despite the limited evidence on its safety and effectiveness. Experts recommend to use it on short-term basis only to avoid adverse reactions on the baby. If you wish to take the actual herb, you can make it into a tea. Its effects manifest within 72 hours after intake.
  • Milk Thistle - It contains silymarin which acts on the estrogen receptors that antagonizes milk production. Studies have shown that it causes an increase in daily milk production.

Do Pregnancy Supplements Work?

Unfortunately, even with the most complete and well-planned diet, it can be quite challenging to get all the nutrients you need for a healthy pregnancy and lactation. For this reason, many women are looking at using pregnancy supplements and they seem to work really well. In fact, even experts suggest that all pregnant and lactating women take a pregnancy supplement to prevent nutritional gaps. It's just a matter of choosing the right supplement for you.

herbal supplements
Prepare your body for pregnancy and promote the healthy development of your future baby. Photo via Shutterstock

With regards to herbal supplements, some are proven to be safe to use during pregnancy and lactation, while a great majority might not be. Unlike nutritional supplements, not much is known about the safety and efficacy of herbal supplements in pregnant and lactating women.

Nonetheless, if you're planning to use herbal supplements of any kind, always consult your specialist beforehand.

How to Choose the Best Pregnancy Supplements?

When selecting a pregnancy supplement, there are several things to consider but the most important would be its contents.

  • The formula must be all-natural and contain ingredients that are proven to be beneficial for both you and your baby. Check the ingredients carefully and see if it contains one or more of the good stuff listed above.
  • You'd also want to make sure that it is free of any artificial and/or potentially-harmful compounds.
  • Most importantly, it must be recommended or prescribed by a specialist that you trust to ensure that you're taking the ones you need the most - and in safe amounts.

The Bottom Line

Pregnancy is one of the happiest and most exciting experiences for women. However, it can also be daunting and overwhelming, particularly for first time moms. Proper nutrition is the key to a healthy body in all stages of life, but it is especially important and critical during pregnancy and lactation due to the extra demands placed on a woman's body. Not only that, it must be a top priority because pregnant and lactating women need to nourish not only themselves but their growing babies as well.

Women should be very vigilant about getting the nutrients they need for themselves and their little one. This is where supplements come in handy. But with the many kinds and brands available in the market, again, it would be of great help to seek the advice of your specialist to make sure that you are taking the right ones.

NOTE: Always check with your doctor and don't hesitate to ask questions regarding safety, doses, and even potential risks.

Furthermore, keep in mind that pregnancy supplements, no matter how good they may be, can't replace a healthy diet and lifestyle as the best ways of getting enough nutrients during these challenging periods.

**This is a subjective assessment based on the strength of the available informations and our estimation of efficacy.

*Result may vary. If you are pregnant, nursing, have a serious medical condition, or have a history of heart conditions we suggest consulting with a physician before using any supplement. The information contained in this website is provided for general informational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease and should not be relied upon as a medical advice. Always consult your doctor before using any supplements.

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