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What supplements should you take during pregnancy?

During pregnancy, it is generally recommended to take prenatal supplements that include essential nutrients such as folic acid, iron, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids to support the health and development of both the mother and the baby.

Michelle Baynham

25 May 2023
Pregnancy is a special time in a woman's life, and it's important to ensure that both the mother and the baby are healthy. One way to promote good health is through proper nutrition, including taking supplements that can help support a healthy pregnancy. In this blog, we'll take a look at some of the supplements that are recommended for pregnant women.

Folic Acid
Folic acid is perhaps the most important supplement for pregnant women. It helps prevent birth defects of the brain and spine, known as neural tube defects, which occur in the first few weeks of pregnancy. Women are advised to take 400 micrograms of folic acid every day, starting at least one month before conception and continuing throughout the first trimester.

During pregnancy, a woman's body needs more iron to support the growing foetus and placenta, and to produce more blood for the mother. Iron deficiency during pregnancy can lead to anemia, which can cause fatigue and increase the risk of preterm delivery and low birth weight. If you have anemia you will be advised to take an iron supplement every day. However, it's important not to take too much iron, as excessive amounts can be harmful.

Calcium is important for the development of strong bones and teeth, and it also helps regulate the baby's heartbeat and muscle function.. Good dietary sources of calcium include dairy products, leafy green vegetables, and fortified foods such as cereal and orange juice. If you're not getting enough calcium from your diet, you may need to take a calcium supplement.

Vitamin D
Vitamin D is essential for the body to absorb calcium and build strong bones. Pregnant women are advised to take 10mcg vitamin D every day. Good dietary sources of vitamin D include fatty fish, egg yolks, and fortified foods such as milk and cereal. However, it can be difficult to get enough vitamin D from food alone, especially during the winter months when there is less sunlight. If your doctor determines that you're not getting enough vitamin D, they may recommend a supplement.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are important for the development of the baby's brain and eyes. Pregnant women are advised to consume one of the main types of omega-3 fatty acids, every day. Good dietary sources of omega-3s include fatty fish such as salmon, as well as nuts and seeds. However, it can be difficult to get enough omega-3s from food alone, so your doctor may recommend a supplement.

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that help maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut. They can also help prevent constipation, which is common during pregnancy. Some studies have also suggested that probiotics may reduce the risk of preterm birth and preeclampsia. Pregnant women can consume probiotics through fermented foods such as yoghurt, kefir, and sauerkraut, or through a supplement.

In conclusion, taking the right supplements during pregnancy can help ensure a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. It's important to talk to your doctor or healthcare provider about which supplements are right for you, as some supplements can be harmful if taken in excess. Additionally, it's important to remember that supplements should not replace a healthy diet, which should be the primary source of nutrients during pregnancy.

Sources : 
Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists