Eating for Two - Nutrition During PregnancyWill I require vitamin or mineral supplements during pregnancy?
Consult your doctor or dietitian - you might need to take a vitamin supplement during pregnancy. Keep in mind that supplements are meant not to replace foods, but to balance a nutritious diet. Your doctor can help you choose an appropriate supplement that contains suitable amounts of vitamins and minerals. Any supplementation that exceeds the recommended daily intake (RDI), such as folic acid, should be taken only under the recommendation of your doctor, because high doses of vitamins and/or minerals can be toxic at certain levels.
A folic acid supplement of 0.4 mg per day should be taken by healthy women (for several months in advance) who are planning to become pregnant and by women who are pregnant. A 1 mg daily dose of folic acid is standard during pregnancy and can be found in most over-the-counter prenatal vitamins.
In the later stages of pregnancy, you require more iron, to help produce healthy red blood cells for you and your growing baby. Sometimes it's difficult for women to consume enough iron from foods. Most doctors recommend that pregnant women take a daily iron supplement of 30 mg to 60 mg of elemental (ferrous) iron in addition to any other prenatal vitamins. Anemic women in particular may require an iron supplement. Discuss the possible need for iron supplementation with your doctor and pharmacist. You can also help your body better absorb dietary iron by eating iron-rich foods together with foods rich in vitamin C, such as berries, tomatoes, sweet peppers, and citrus fruits. For example, have a glass of orange juice with an enriched breakfast cereal.
Consuming 3 to 4 servings of dairy products can help ensure adequate calcium (i.e. 1,200 mg daily) during your pregnancy. However, women with diets lacking in calcium (e.g. women with a lactose intolerance) may require a calcium supplement in addition to their dietary sources. Look for calcium supplements that contain calcium carbonate because they have the most calcium per weight. Try to take calcium supplements between meals or at bedtime to increase the effectiveness of their absorption. Avoid bone meal and dolomite, as these types of calcium supplements may contain traces of lead. Talk to your doctor, pharmacist and dietitian for more information about calcium supplements, and be sure to incorporate calcium-rich foods in your diet.
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