Not All Supplements Are Created Equal
While a balanced diet is the best way to get all the necessary nutrients, during pregnancy, some women may have a challenge getting all the needed vitamins and minerals. When a woman begins trying to conceive, experts recommend starting a high-quality prenatal supplement. But what counts as a high-quality vitamin?
Nutrients you need
Prenatal vitamins should always contain some specific nutrients, including folic acid, vitamin D, calcium, vitamin C, riboflavin, B12, and zinc. Folic acid is one of the most crucial nutrients pregnant women need. This mineral helps to prevent neural tube defects and should be taken daily when trying to conceive and throughout pregnancy.
A healthcare provider may recommend taking higher doses of specific nutrients. For example, women who have given birth to a baby with neural tube defects previously may need to take up to 4,000mcg of folic acid instead of the typically recommended 400mcg. Additionally, women who don’t eat foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids may need to take an additional omega-3 supplement in conjunction with a prenatal vitamin.
Supplement side effects
The benefits of prenatal vitamins far outweigh the side effects. Still, the high doses of iron in the supplements can contribute to digestive issues for some women. To prevent this, women should drink plenty of water, eat high-fiber foods, and exercise regularly.
Can I combine supplements?
Getting too much of one particular nutrient can be harmful to health. Pregnant women should avoid doubling up on supplements unless a healthcare provider has recommended the extra supplement. For example, if a woman was taking a vitamin D supplement before getting pregnant, the healthcare provider can advise whether or not to continue taking this vitamin or to swap out for only a prenatal supplement.
Choosing high-quality vitamins
The quality of vitamins and supplements can vary. Vitamins can come in many forms, including capsules, gummies, tinctures, powders, and liquids. Because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate supplements, consumers must be mindful of choosing wisely. The best way to ensure that a supplement is high-quality is to look for one that has been third-party tested. This means the supplement may have been evaluated for label accuracy or tested for harmful ingredients. Additionally, find a trusted pharmacist who can help choose the right supplement. These medical professionals are specifically trained to understand medications and vitamins and can help patients make the right choices. For more information, speak with a healthcare provider.