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The ABC’s of Pregnancy Supplements

When a woman finds out she's pregnant, the assumption immediately is that she can eat what she wants and as much as she wants of it.  In reality, only an additional 300 calories a day is needed to support proper growth and development of a growing fetus and her food choices are vital to the process. What is less assumed but incredibly important is that a woman must  increase her levels of supplements or vitamins to make sure that her body is getting the proper amount of elements that it needs. Make no mistake, the connection between mother and growing baby is taking a toll on her supplement and nutrition supply, but this can be combatted with some simple changes and dietary enhancements.

The most noted supplements that a woman needs when pregnant are Iron, Folic acid, and DHA. These three components are vital towards a healthy pregnancy. Iron helps with hemoglobin production and is essential for placenta growth. Folic Acid is important for neural and brain development for the growing baby. DHA is crucial to help build cognitive function for the baby and can reduce the risk of pre-term labor for the mother. There are others, but these are the heavy players that most doctors will require you supplement for. An easy way to incorporate everything that a pregnant body needs is to take a standard prenatal vitamin. There are many available with a lot of language that can be confusing.

Look for a prenatal vitamin that includes:

  • 600-1000 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid.
  • 200-400 IU of vitamin D.
  • 200-300 milligrams (mg) of calcium.
  • 85 mg of vitamin C.
  • 1.4 mg of thiamine.
  • 1.4 mg of riboflavin.
  • 20 mg of niacin.
  • 2.6 mcg of vitamin B12.
  • 15 mg of vitamin E.
  • 11 mg of zinc.
  • 27-60 mg of iron.

While many manufacturers are starting to incorporate DHA into their prenatal supplements, if it’s not in it already – add it. In fact, the common number that is recommended is 200mg a day of DHA to provide appropriate and adequate function for mom and baby. Nutrition is another way to try to increase supplements during pregnancy. While it is difficult to get everything you need from diet alone, there are super foods that can help you build a better nutritional grounding. Foods rich in Folic Acid include any leafy greens such as broccoli and spinach which also include high levels of Iron. These can also include some citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruit and strawberries. To add more Iron, lean red meats and eggs are an excellent choice. DHA is a little trickier that it comes mainly from fish but is still attainable. It isn’t recommended for pregnant women to consume undercooked fish, so for most women eating fresh tuna is out. But other options such as Salmon or Tilapia can be consume 2-3 times a week safely and is encouraged.

When in doubt the key is to ask a doctor. Your nutritional health is not only important for your growing baby, but also for yourself to keep up with the stress of being pregnant. Eat healthy foods, take a solid prenatal vitamin and drink plenty of water and your pregnancy should be nutritionally fit and well supplemented.


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