Pregnancy can be a confusing time for an expectant mother. There are numerous suggestions on what supplements are best during pregnancy. Taking the right supplements can support the baby’s health while keeping the mother healthy. What many women may not know is that there are also some vitamins and nutrients they should avoid during pregnancy.
What Is Safe?
When using supplements during pregnancy, it is important for a pregnant woman to always check with her doctor before taking any.
It is still essential to eat a healthy diet during pregnancy, but it can be hard for a pregnant woman to get all the vitamins and nutrients she needs. This is why prenatal vitamins are important. These vitamins can also help fill in the gaps by providing micronutrients that a woman’s body uses during pregnancy.
Prenatal vitamins are vitamins formulated to take during pregnancy, so they are safe. Experts recommend taking prenatal vitamins every day because studies have shown they have several benefits. They can reduce the risk of preterm birth and preeclampsia because the prenatal vitamin is designed to give pregnant women the nutrients they need.
Vitamin Supplements to Avoid
While vitamin A is important for a baby’s vision and immune system development, too much of this vitamin can accumulate in the liver. This can cause liver damage and congenital disabilities in babies. Pregnant women should avoid vitamin A supplements because they can get enough vitamin A through diet.
This is another important vitamin, but during pregnancy, too much of it can be harmful. One study showed that babies exposed to too much vitamin E had a lower birth weight. Most women get enough vitamin E through diet and prenatal vitamins.
While eating a healthy diet is important during pregnancy, mothers do not always get the vitamins they need from their food. This is where vitamins come in to play. Four of the most important vitamins during pregnancy are folic acid, iron, Vitamin D, and iodine.
Pregnant women are recommended to take at least 400 mcg of folic acid every day. This man-made form of a B vitamin known as folate helps produce red blood cells and ensures the baby’s neural tube develops into the brain and spinal cord.
Not taking enough folic acid during pregnancy can lead to congenital disabilities . It is especially important to take this vitamin in the first three to four weeks of pregnancy because this is when a baby’s brain and spinal cord start developing. The first few weeks of pregnancy is also when most congenital disabilities occur. The CDC recommends taking folic acid at least a month before becoming pregnant.
This important nutrient allows a mother’s body to make enough new blood for herself and the baby. It also helps oxygen move from the lungs to the rest of the body, and the baby.
If a mother does not take enough iron, her baby may suffer from anemia, which can cause the child to be born too early or too small. Pregnant women should take at least 27 mg of iron each day but not more than 45 mg per day. Generally, prenatal vitamins contain enough iron.
Without vitamin D, the body cannot absorb calcium, which is essential for proper bone development.
The body naturally makes vitamin D from being in the sun. A pregnant woman should try to spend about 10 to 30 minutes out in the sun each day. However, if she cannot be in the sun, she can also get vitamin D from food and prenatal vitamins. Good food sources of vitamin D include fatty fish such as salmon, milk, and cereal with vitamin D added.
Having low iodine levels increase the chance of congenital disabilities and miscarriage. The body uses iodine to make thyroid hormones, and when a mother does not have enough iodine, she may get hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism can lead to low birth weight and little growth. In extreme cases, severe iodine deficiency can lead to learning disabilities. However, this is rare, especially in developed countries. Pregnant women can generally get enough iodine by using salt with iodine.
While there is no “perfect pregnancy diet,” pregnant women should focus on key nutrients and foods.
This important nutrient helps a baby’s tissue develop, especially brain tissue. It also helps breast and uterine tissue during pregnancy. Experts recommend eating about two to three servings of meat per day. Each serving should be about three ounces, or about the size of a standard deck of cards.
Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)
DHA, which is also known as the omega-3 fatty acid, helps with growth and development. Pregnant women are recommended to take at least 200 mg of DHA every day.
Mothers can eat foods high in omega-3 fatty acid, including low-mercury fish. Pregnant women should eat 8-10 ounces of fish like salmon, trout, herring, and halibut. Women can also get omega-3 fatty acids from milk, orange juice, and eggs.
If a pregnant woman is unable to eat food with an omega-3 fatty acid, she may want to talk to her doctor about taking a supplement with this nutrient. Most prenatal vitamins do not have DHA.
Babies use calcium as their bones grow. If a mother does not get enough calcium, her body takes this nutrient from her own bones and teeth for the baby. This can lead to low bone density.
Pregnant women should get at least 1,000 mg of calcium each day. Pregnant women under the age of 18 should get at least 1300 mg of calcium every day. Mothers can get enough calcium by drinking three glasses of milk or calcium-fortified orange juice every day.
Magnesium is an important mineral that plays a role in everything from nerve function to the immune system. Women who do not get enough of this mineral during pregnancy may suffer from premature labor and chronic hypertension. This mineral can also reduce fetal growth restriction.
There are several ways a pregnant woman can get this mineral through her diet. Eating avocados, nuts, and legumes can all help boost magnesium levels. The good news is that dark chocolate has magnesium as well, so an expecting mother may be able to satisfy a craving as well.
There is a lack of research on which herbal supplements are safe during pregnancy. However, ginger root is considered safe.
When used as a supplement, ginger root can help ease nausea and vomiting caused during pregnancy. Results of several studies suggested that not only is ginger root safe during pregnancy, but it is also effective. Even though the ginger root is considered safe, there is not enough research to determine the maximum safe amount, so it is a good idea for a pregnant woman to check with her doctor before using ginger root.
Herbal Supplements to Avoid
While more research is needed on safe herbal supplements, several herbal supplements have been proven unsafe. For example, black cohosh, which is used to control menstrual cramps and hot flashes, has been shown to cause uterine contractions. This can lead to preterm labor.
Dong Quai, which is used in Chinese medicine to treat menstrual cramps and high blood pressure, is another herbal supplement that may cause preterm labor. There is also little evidence on its safety and effectiveness.
Yohimbe is made from the bark of an African tree, and it is used to treat a range of conditions, including obesity. However, it has been associated with dangerous side effects, such as strokes and high blood pressure.
While there is little research on the safety of CBD in general, many pregnant women use it to reduce nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. However, there is some limited research that medical marijuana can result in low birth weight, stillbirth, and disrupted brain development.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), and the U.S. surgeon general all recommend that pregnant women must refrain from using marijuana products, including CBD. However, using CBD oil is generally considered safer than smoking marijuana. A mother who is considering using CBD oil should talk with her doctor about her options.
It can be difficult to get to sleep at night during pregnancy, and many women want to use melatonin to help them get a good night’s rest. However, research is still unclear about whether it is safe to take this substance in larger amounts than what naturally occurs in the body.
While there are not enough studies to offer a conclusive answer on the safety of melatonin during pregnancy, some animal studies have shown that melatonin plays an important role in fetal development. The results have shown that melatonin helps train the circadian rhythms in the developing baby. The results have also shown that after 24 weeks, the level of melatonin increases steadily.
Taking the right supplements is key to a healthy pregnancy and delivery, while the wrong supplements can result in permanent problems in the child. It is always a wise idea for a pregnant woman to check with her doctor before taking any supplements.