Ever since you found out you were pregnant you’re getting advice from every angle. Books, podcasts, internet blogs, and even your nosy neighbor. But how do you know what advice to take when it comes to your diet and pregnancy supplements?
It can be hard to sort through which information and sources are reliable, we get it. So we are here to help!
Below is a brief guide on why and how a supplement plan can be integral to protecting the health and safety of you and your growing baby.
Changes to Your Diet
Whether you have always been a healthy eater or are trying to make a conscious effort to adopt healthier food choices, pregnancy requires a whole new way of thinking. While we used to adopt the phrase “you’re eating for two now”, modern science explains that it’s not just about the quantity of food, it is also about what you choose to eat.
During pregnancy, it is important to have a healthy balance of macronutrients (carbs, protein, and fat). Protein intake should increase to about 60 grams per day, but the exact recommendation will depend on the individual’s weight.
Carbohydrates should be about 45-64% of total daily calories eaten and fats should be about 20-35%. These recommendations may change based on a woman’s current weight and any risk of gestational diabetes.
Most women are able to change their diets during pregnancy to incorporate foods that keep them within the guidelines above. However, tracking all of the micronutrients can be much more challenging. This is why doctors often recommend supplements.
Micronutrients During Pregnancy
Micronutrients refer to vitamins, minerals, and other elements. During pregnancy, the need for these micronutrients is much higher because they allow for proper bodily function to support a baby.
Eating a healthy pregnancy diet can supply most of the micronutrients needed. Yet many expecting mothers have a hard time getting all the nutrients they need with diet alone. Supplements offer a high concentration of certain micronutrients that facilitate development.
You should consult a doctor or medical professional before beginning to take any supplements during pregnancy.
While you should always try to get enough of things like calcium, vitamin C, and iron, there are special requirements for women who are pregnant. The list below includes the most important supplements for pregnancy health along with when and how much you should be taking.
Again, it’s always important to check with your doctor before you make changes to your diet or supplement routine.
Folate and Folic Acid
This is perhaps the most important supplement for pregnancy. Proper levels of folate can prevent neural tube defects and other abnormalities affecting the brain and spinal cord.
Folic acid is a form of folate in certain foods and supplements. You may have noticed that many cereals advertise their product as “fortified” which may refer to added folic acid.
Folic acid has no particular taste or texture. Beyond the fortified foods, folic acid can be found in spinach, enriched pasta and bread, lentils, broccoli, and many others. During pregnancy, it is suggested that women consume about 400 to 1,000 micrograms of folate per day.
Eating these foods may provide enough folic acid, but if not, a supplement of 600 mcg a day will help prevent birth defects. Women are encouraged to take folic acid from before conception (if possible) through pregnancy.
Vitamin D supports healthy, strong bones as well as the immune system.
If you want to add vitamin D to your diet you can try including fatty fish, eggs, and fortified milk. If you are concerned you are not getting enough vitamin D, you can try a 600 mcg supplement.
If your doctor believes you have a vitamin D deficiency, you may be required to take more than the standard 600mcg.
Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG)
You may have heard your doctor mention your HCG levels. This is a measure of a specific naturally occurring hormone in the body.
During pregnancy, your HCG levels naturally rise to help your body nourish the new life inside of you. Levels of HCG vary dramatically from woman to woman.
Using real HCG drops can supplement the levels of HCG in your system and support a healthy pregnancy.
Maintaining appropriate levels of iron can reduce the risk of maternal anemia. Because a woman’s blood volume increases during pregnancy it is even more important to manage iron levels in the blood.
It is recommended that pregnant women have at least 27 mg of iron per day. Spinach, fortified oatmeal, beans, and poultry are high in iron. If you are taking a prenatal vitamin it probably has all the iron you need.
In order to promote absorption of iron in food or as a supplement, it should be taken with a food or drink rich in vitamin C.
Calcium helps the strength of bones and teeth. Many prenatal vitamins have calcium. It is recommended that pregnant women have 1,000mg of calcium per day.
Foods rich in calcium include most dairy products as well as fortified cereals. If you have a dairy intolerance, you may want to ask your doctor about calcium supplements.
Magnesium is a mineral responsible for supporting the immune system and nervous system. Without proper levels of magnesium, you may be at a higher risk of premature labor.
Magnesium is in most prenatal vitamins but is also a supplement alone. About 350mg is the recommended amount of magnesium per day.
Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby
Adopting a healthy diet rich with vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and healthy fats will help promote a healthier pregnancy and baby.
If you worried about getting enough of certain micronutrients you can try a prenatal vitamin that includes many of the most important ones. If you want to explore additional pregnancy supplements you can contact your doctor for more information.
If you want more health and lifestyle tips, check out some of our other blogs!