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3 Key Supplements

By Sharon Scott, RN, MSN

3 Key Supplements

Get these 3 key supplements primarily from foods, but also boost them with a supplement, experts advise

There’s no 1 magic ingredient that completes a perfect pregnancy diet. Eating a healthy, balanced diet high in vegetables, fruits, grains and proteins is important because pregnancy takes a toll on your body, and experts agree that women considering pregnancy, or who are pregnant or nursing, should take prenatal vitamins and other supplements, to ensure the best nutrition possible.

Here’s a look at the 3 key supplements recommended during pregnancy: Folate/folic acid, calcium and vitamin D.

Folate/Folic AcidCalciumVitamin D
Folate, the natural source of this B vitamin, is found in dark leafy greens, citrus fruits and dried beans. Folic acid, the synthetic form, is in fortified cereals.Drink your daily calcium in dairy products including milk, creams and Kefir. Cheese and yogurt are also great calcium sources. There’s even calcium hanging out in broccoli, spinach and other greens, shellfish and beans.Gained primarily from sun exposure, most experts recommend a supplement because vitamin D is in few foods such as salmon and other fatty fishes, or in fortified orange juice or milk
Folic acid can reduce the risk of your baby having a neural tube defect, which are severe birth defects involving your baby’s brain or spinal cord. It may also protect against cleft lip and cleft palate. Some research shows it can also reduce preterm birth risk. Begin to take folic acid prior to pregnancy because these birth defects usually occur in the earliest days of development, before you may even know you’re pregnant.Calcium protects your muscles and nerves in pregnancy, and can help your blood clot. Your baby needs calcium, too, for its teeth and bones, and you will deplete your body’s stores if you don’t consume calcium in pregnancy, putting you at risk for osteoporosis later in life.Vitamin D (you may see it as D3 on supplements) is a fat-soluble vitamin and hormone that helps your body absorb calcium. Vitamin D helps grow you baby’s bones and teeth; vitamin D deficiencies have been linked to increased risks for gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, vaginal infections and even a greater likelihood of needing a cesarean birth. For babies, D deficiencies have been linked to increased likelihood of cavities, an increase in asthma and respiratory infections, softening of the skull in infancy and decreased bone health by age 9.
Get 800 micrograms daily prior to pregnancy; ask your healthcare provider what your dose is in pregnancy as women with higher BMIs/body weight may need a larger dose to get the protective effects. Most prenatal vitamins include 800 micrograms of folic acid.Pregnant adult women need 1,200 milligrams a day; pregnant teens need 1,500 milligrams daily. Consume calcium with vitamin D, as D helps your body use calcium in supplements and food.The recommended daily amount of vitamin D during pregnancy is 600 IU/day. Most prenatal vitamins have 400 IU, so you’ll need to get extra elsewhere. But vitamin D can be too much of a good thing—experts have set safe upper daily limits of anywhere from 2,000 IU to 4,000 IU during pregnancy.


Make sure you also read:

What to Eat and What to avoid in Pregnancy

Avoid These Food And Eating Habits During Pregnancy



Sharon Scott, RN, MSN, is a nurse educator and expert advisor to Healthy Mom&Baby.

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