Most practitioners recommend supplements for pregnant women, women who are trying to conceive and nursing moms, in order to ensure good health of both the mother and the baby and to prevent complications and birth defects. However, it is essential to follow the doctor’s instructions carefully and use only the supplements he or she prescribed, because larger doses may harm the baby as well as the mother.
Over the last years medical experts have all come to agree that folic acid is essential for pregnant women because its deficiency may cause birth defects to the baby, like spina bifida, as well as claft palate or claft lip.
This B-group vitamin, also known as vitamin B9, plays an important role is cell development and the proper growth of the fetus.
Some experts believe that for maximum prevention and safety all women of childbearing age should take folic acid supplements. The recommended dose during pregnancy is 600-800 mg per day.
Other than in supplements, folic acid can be found in green leafy vegetables, citruses, legumes, whole grains, peas and peanuts.
The recommended intake of iron for pregnant women is almost two times higher than in non-pregnant women, approximately 30 mg per day.
Iron increases the mother’s blood’s volume and provides nutrition for the fetus, as well as a reserve of iron for the first few months of life.
Iron can be found in red meat, fish, poultry, eggs, legumes, dried fruits, legumes, and green leafy vegetables. However, the absorption of iron from eggs and vegetables cannot be complete without adequate amounts of vitamin C. Also, tea, coffee and milk are known to reduce iron absorption.
Iron can be taken as a supplement, best with some juice or water, between meals.
Calcium is an essential mineral necessary for the normal bone development of the baby as well as to protect mother’s bones. Calcium can be found in dairy products, soy, tofu, citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables and canned salmon. If taken as a supplement, the dosage is 1000 mg a day.
Vitamin D is important because it aids the absorption of calcium. Pregnant women who do not drink sufficient amounts of milk fortified with this vitamin, or do not get enough exposure to sun, should take 10 mg of vitamin D a day.
Pregnant women will also need essential fatty acids like omega-3 and omega-6, magnesium, vitamin C and other B complex vitamins.