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What are the best supplements to take during pregnancy?

What are the best supplements to take during pregnancy?
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When you’re getting excited for a new addition to your family there’s a lot you’ll be thinking about, including how you or your partner can be as healthy as possible. One way to do that is making sure you’re getting all the vitamins and nutrients your body needs throughout pregnancy.

Here’s all you need to know about which vitamins to take during pregnancy.

Do you really need to take supplements while you're pregnant?

For the most part, you should be able to get all the vitamins and minerals you need from eating a healthy, balanced diet. When you’re pregnant there are a few vitamins that are particularly important, and a few pregnancy supplements you should consider taking.

What vitamins are important in pregnancy?

Here’s the NHS’ advice on what vitamins you need when you’re pregnant.

Folic acid

Folic acid helps to reduce the risk of problems in the baby’s development in the early weeks. If you’re pregnant, or trying to get pregnant, you should have 400 micrograms of folic acid every day from before you’re pregnant until you’re at week 12 of your pregnancy. It’s also best to try to eat foods that contain folate, the natural form of folic acid, such as green leafy veg.

Vitamin D

To keep your bones, teeth and muscles healthy you need vitamin D as it helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body. It’s found in oily fish, eggs and red meat.

The Department of Health and Social Care also advises taking a vitamin D supplement. All adults, including pregnant and breastfeeding women, should consider taking a supplement of 10 micrograms of vitamin D each day between September and March when the sun isn’t strong enough.

Iron

If you’re short of iron you may have anaemia, meaning you may feel very tired. You should be able to get enough iron in your diet from lean meat, green leafy veg, dried fruits and nuts.

Your GP or midwife might suggest you take iron supplements if they find that the iron levels in your blood are too low.

Vitamin C

We all know vitamin C is important in helping us stay well. It helps protect your cells and keep them healthy. It’s found in a wide variety of fruit and veg including oranges, red and green peppers, strawberries, blackcurrants, broccoli, brussels sprouts and potatoes.

Calcium

Calcium is important for making your babies bones and teeth. You can get calcium from milk, cheese and yoghurt, green leafy veg, soya drinks with calcium, bread and foods made with fortified flour.

What about pregnancy supplements for vegetarian and vegan diets?

You should be able to get most of the nutrients you need for you and your baby even if you are vegetarian or vegan, as long as you’re eating a healthy and balanced diet.

But you might find it difficult to get enough iron and vitamin B12. Talk to your midwife or doctor to make sure you’re getting enough of these vitamins, or what you can do if you’re not.

Pregnancy supplements to avoid during pregnancy

According to the NHS you should avoid taking vitamin A supplements, or any supplement containing vitamin A (also known as retinol) as too much vitamin A could harm your baby.

Can pregnancy vitamins cause nausea?

As with any health supplement or medicine there may be potential side effects. That’s why it’s important to read the patient information leaflets and product descriptions of pregnancy supplements and vitamins before you take them. These will list any potential side effects including nausea. Before taking a supplement it may be best to eat first, but always ask your doctor or midwife about pregnancy supplements and how best to take them.

Can pregnancy vitamins cause diarrhoea?

Take pregnancy supplements can support your health during pregnancy, however they may also cause stomach upsets. Before you take prenatal vitamins make sure to read the patient information leaflets and product descriptions.

Are there risks to pregnancy taking supplements?

If you take any supplements, including herbal supplements or medicines please speak to your GP or midwife. Herbal supplements used for nausea or an upset stomach may not be safe to take while you’re pregnant. There are certain vitamins which may not be suitable in pregnancy, such as vitamin A. 

What supplements should I take before pregnancy? 

You should start taking 400mg folic acid as soon as you know you’re pregnant, or if you’re trying to conceive and continue this until you’re at 12 weeks of your pregnancy.

References

www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/keeping-well/vitamins-supplements-and-nutrition
www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-a
www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-d