For most women, pregnancy is one of the most exciting experiences. However, it can also be a confusing and overwhelming moment for some future mothers.
Magazines, internet and advertising flood women with advice on how to stay healthy during pregnancy. Although, the majority know that shellfish with a high content of mercury, alcohol and cigarettes are prohibited during the gestation stage; many are unaware that they should avoid some vitamins, minerals and herbal supplements.
The information on which supplements are safe and which are not, often varies according to the sources, which complicates things. Therefore, know which supplements are considered safe during pregnancy and which should be avoided.
Guide to supplements during pregnancy
1.Why take supplements during pregnancy?
Consuming the right nutrients is important at every stage of life, but is especially needed during pregnancy, because women require nourish both themselves and their growing babies.
For example, the need to consume macronutrients increases significantly, these include carbohydrates, proteins and fats. However, the requirement of micronutrients such as vitamins, minerals and trace elements increases more than the need for macronutrients.
The vitamins and minerals promote maternal and fetal growth at all stages of pregnancy, and are vital to support some critical functions such as cell growth. However, despite the fact that some women can meet this growing demand with a well-planned diet rich in nutrients, others find it difficult. Hence, some pregnant women need to take vitamin and mineral supplements.
2.What reasons do women have for taking supplements in pregnancy?
2.1 Nutrient deficiencies
Some women may need a supplement after a blood test reveals a deficiency in a vitamin or mineral.
2.2 Dietary restrictions
Women, who follow specific diets, including vegetarian diets and those with food intolerances and allergies, may need supplements to prevent micronutrient deficiencies .Recommended supplements during pregnancy
It is absolutely essential that mothers avoid tobacco during pregnancy, but those who continue to smoke have a greater need for specific nutrients such as vitamin C and folic acid.
2.4 Multiple pregnancies
Women who have more than one baby have higher micronutrient needs than those who have only one.
Reasons to take supplements during pregnancy
2.5 Genetic mutations such as MTHFR
MTHFR is a gene that converts folate into a form that the body can use. Pregnant women with this mutation may need to be supplemented with a specific form of folic acid to avoid complications.
2.6 Poor diet
Women who do not consume or choose foods with low nutrient content may need supplements with vitamins and minerals to avoid deficiencies. In addition, experts from the American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommend that all pregnant women take a prenatal vitamin and folic acid supplement, as the idea is to cover nutritional gaps and prevent birth defects such as spina bifida.
3.Is it safe to take herbal supplements during pregnancy?
In addition to micronutrients, herbal supplements are popular. One study found that about 15% of pregnant women in the United States use these supplements. However, alarmingly, more than 25% of these women did not inform their doctor that they were taking it.
While some herbal supplements can be taken safely there are many that could be little insurance. In fact, although some herbs can help with common complications of pregnancy, such as nausea and upset stomach, others can be harmful to the mother and fetus.
Unfortunately, there is not much research on the use of herbal supplements in pregnant women, and it is unknown how these supplements can affect these women.
Is it advisable to take herbal supplements during pregnancy?
4.What supplements are considered safe in pregnancy?
4.1 Prenatal vitamins
They are multivitamins that are specially formulated to meet the growing demand for micronutrients during pregnancy. They are intended to be taken before conception and during pregnancy. However, prenatal vitamins are not intended to replace a healthy diet.
Folate is a B vitamin that plays an integral role in DNA synthesis, production of red blood cells, growth and fetal development. Therefore, it is recommended that pregnant women take 600 micrograms of folic acid per day to reduce the risk of neural tube defects and congenital abnormalities such as cleft palate and heart defects.
Although adequate folate can be obtained through diet, many women do not consume enough folate-rich foods, so it is necessary to administer supplements.
Recommended supplements for pregnant women
The need for iron increases significantly during pregnancy, as the volume of maternal blood increases by almost 50%.
Iron is essential for the transport of oxygen, the healthy growth of the fetus and the placenta. The recommended intake of 27 mg of iron per day can be met with most prenatal vitamins. However, pregnant women with an iron deficiency may need higher doses and be prescribed by their doctor.
The supplements that are recommended in pregnancy
4.4 Vitamin D
This fat-soluble vitamin is important for immune function, bone health and cell division. The deficiency during this stage of the woman has been related to an increased risk of caesarean section, preeclampsia, premature birth and gestational diabetes.
The recommended intake is 600 IU per day. However, some experts suggest that vitamin D needs during pregnancy are higher.
Magnesium is a mineral involved in hundreds of chemical reactions in the body, and plays critical roles in immune, muscular and nervous function.
The deficiency of this mineral during pregnancy can increase the risk of preeclampsia, chronic hypertension and premature delivery. For this reason, some studies suggest that magnesium supplementation reduces the risk of complications such as preeclampsia, fetal growth restriction and premature birth.
What supplements can be taken during the pregnancy?
4.6 Fish oil
The fish oil contains DHA and EPA, two essential fatty acids for brain development of the fetus.
The consumption of DHA and EPA, in addition, could boost the development of the infantile brain and diminish the maternal depression, although the investigation on this subject is not conclusive.
5.What supplements are not safe during pregnancy?
5.1 Vitamin A
Although this vitamin is extremely important for the development of fetal vision and immune function, too much can be harmful. Its accumulation in the body can have toxic effects that lead to liver damage. Even vitamin A can cause birth defects.
5.2 Vitamin E
This fat-soluble vitamin plays many important roles in the body and is involved with immune function. Although vitamin E is very important for health, it is recommended that pregnant women not be supplemented with it.
What vitamins to avoid in pregnancy?
5.3 Black cohosh
Black cohosh is a plant that is used for various purposes, including control of hot flashes and menstrual cramps. However, it is not safe to take this herb, as it can cause uterine contractions, which could induce premature labor.
This plant, also known as Hydrastis canadensis, is used as a dietary supplement to treat respiratory infections and diarrhea, although there is little research on its effects and safety. Also, it contains a substance called berberine, which has been shown to worsen jaundice in babies.
Is it safe to take herbs during pregnancy?
5.5 Dong quai
It is a root that has been used for more than 1,000 years and is popular in Chinese medicine. Pregnant women should avoid it because it can stimulate uterine contractions, which increases the risk of a possible miscarriage.
It is used as an herbal remedy to treat a variety of conditions ranging from erectile dysfunction to obesity. However, yohimbine should not be used in pregnancy, as it has been associated with dangerous side effects such as high blood pressure, heart attacks, and seizures.
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