Which Vitamins Are Safe To Have During Pregnancy?
During pregnancy, it's essential to maintain a healthy diet, not only for yourself but for the little one growing inside you too.
You should eat a variety of foods to ensure you get all your essential vitamins and minerals as you will benefit both your own health and your baby's health.
But while a healthy diet is vital during pregnancy, you might still fall short of the key nutrients you need. This is because you need more iron, folic acid, and other types of nutrients while pregnant and it's for this reason that prenatal vitamins are often recommended.
In this article, we will explain which vitamins are safe for women to take and the reasons why they are important for maternal and foetal health.
Are Vitamins Safe To Have During Pregnancy?
While vitamin supplements are recommended during pregnancy, care does need to be taken. You don't need to overload your body with each nutrient as you only need small amounts to remain healthy.
If you consume higher amounts, you could cause harm to yourself and the little one growing inside you.
Too much Vitamin A, for example, could damage your liver and lead to birth defects in your baby. Your doctor might advise against taking vitamin A supplements while you're pregnant for these reasons.
Excessive amounts of vitamin C and D can also be problematic, although both are recommended in the right doses.
Too much vitamin C could cause you to feel nauseous, which is the last thing you need when you might already be experiencing morning sickness.
Excessive amounts of vitamin C can also increase the risk of high blood pressure, so not only will this cause you to feel unwell but it could lead to complications in your pregnancy.
Vitamin D, which is essential for your health and your baby's development, can also lead to pregnancy complications when taken at too high a dose.
As such, it is wise to speak to your healthcare provider before taking any supplements during pregnancy. They will advise you on the vitamins you need to take and at what quantities so you're in no doubt as to what is safe for you and your baby.
Essential Vitamins For Pregnancy
If this is your first pregnancy, knowing which vitamin supplements to take might be confusing. You might also be cautious about taking certain vitamins in light of the safety concerns that we have already raised.
The important thing to know is that some vitamins are essential for pregnancy so they shouldn't be avoided.
A healthy and balanced diet can give you most of the vitamins and minerals you need but as you may experience vitamin deficiency in the months leading up to your child's birth, you may need to take vitamin supplements.
By taking these supplements, you will benefit both your health and the health of your baby.
As pregnancy is a time when many women experience problems with their hormones, it might also be necessary for you to balance your hormones with these essential vitamins.
Two of the most essential vitamins during pregnancy are Folic Acid (Vitamin B9) and Vitamin D.
Why is Folic Acid important?
Folate is a B vitamin that can be found in some foods. These include:
- Dark green leafy vegetables (including spinach, asparagus, and broccoli)
- Fresh fruits
- Whole grains
Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate that is found in many supplements. If you don't get enough folate in your normal diet, then folic acid is recommended.
Folic acid supplements help your baby's neural tube to grow. This tube is part of your child's nervous system. Evidence has shown that folic acid can reduce the risk of children developing spina bifida and other conditions that affect their neural tube and spine.
If you are planning to become pregnant, it is recommended that you take folic acid supplements 3 months before conception.
When you find out you are pregnant, you should continue taking folic acid until week 12 of your pregnancy. By 12 weeks, your baby's neural tube has already grown so there is no need to continue with the supplements.
The recommended dose of folic acid is 400mcg which you can get via the supplements you take. Eating foods that are rich in folate is also recommended.
Most women should limit their folic acid intake to 1mg a day. However, those women who are at higher risk of having a baby with a neural tube defect may need up to 5mg of folic acid a day.
Why is Vitamin D important?
Vitamin D supports your immune system, so is vital for staying well during pregnancy. It also regulates the amount of phosphorous and calcium in your body, the two nutrients that keep your muscles, bones and teeth healthy.
Vitamin D also supports healthy bone development in your baby, along with the development of their teeth, heart, kidney, and nervous system.
Vitamin D can be found in some foods. These include:
- Oily fish
- Red meat
- Breakfast cereals
You can also get Vitamin D from the sun so be sure to spend time outdoors when the weather is warm and the sun is shining brightly. Our Vitamin D drinks are a great way to get all the vitamin D you need in one go.
Some women can become Vitamin D deficient. You might have Vitamin D deficiency if:
- You rarely go outside
- You have darker skin
- You have a BMI above 30
- You always cover your skin
- You regularly use a high-factor sunblock
Between 10 - 20mcg of Vitamin D is recommended for pregnant women. We go into further detail in our guide on vitamin D, which includes guidelines on how much Vitamin D all children and adults need.
The recommended upper dose for Vitamin D is 1mg a day.
Recommended Prenatal Vitamins
Prenatal vitamins are available over the counter in most pharmacies. Your doctor might recommend specific brands to you so it's wise to listen to their advice.
Prenatal vitamins contain the two things that you and your baby need: Folic acid and vitamin D. We have already outlined the importance of these so if you aren't getting enough folate and vitamin D, then prenatal vitamins are strongly recommended.
Another important ingredient in most prenatal vitamins is iron. It is included in supplements because some women are at risk of anaemia (iron deficiency) during pregnancy.
Iron helps with blood production in your body to ensure you are carrying enough blood for two. The blood supplies oxygen to the foetus which allows your baby to breathe.
Prenatal vitamins may include other ingredients that are necessary for your health and the health of your child, such as calcium, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E.
When choosing prenatal vitamins, look for those that have the necessary nutrients for your pregnancy based on the advice that your doctor or midwife has given to you.
Pregnancy can be a very exciting time but it can also be quite scary. If you aren't sure which vitamins to take (and how many), you will be concerned about the health of yourself and your baby.
But as some vitamins are essential, you shouldn't neglect the supplements that your doctor recommends to you. So…
- Ask your doctor which supplements you need to take
- Stick to the recommended guidelines on daily intake
- Check the ingredients before purchasing supplements
Remember that you can also get your daily dose of vitamins from our extensive range of products so browse our online store and get in touch with us if you have any questions.
We wish you a very happy and healthy pregnancy!