Supplements During Pregnancy

Supplements During Pregnancy

Julian Whitaker, MD

I just found out I’m pregnant. Should I take any nutritional supplements besides prenatal vitamins? — B.K., Baltimore, MD

Your prenatal is a good start. Most of these supplements contain 800–1,000 mcg of folic acid, which, in addition to protecting against neural tube defects, also reduces risk of congenital heart disorders, cleft palate, and pregnancy complications.I also recommend taking supplemental fish oil. DHA, an essential fatty acid in fish oil, is required for normal development of the brain and eyes, and studies indicate that the offspring of women who take fish oil during pregnancy have superior hand-eye coordination. Aim for a minimum of 300 mg of DHA daily.

Recent research suggests that adequate vitamin D also improves pregnancy outcomes. Deficiencies in this vitamin increase risk of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia in expectant moms—as well as premature birth, low birth weight, and type 1 diabetes in their babies. Many pregnant women are deficient in this vitamin. Most prenatal vitamins contain 400 IU of vitamin D, which is usually not enough to bring levels into the optimal range. Ask your doctor about having your 25(OH)D vitamin D blood level tested and taking enough supplemental vitamin D to bring it above 50 ng/mL.

Finally, if you’re not getting much dietary calcium, considering taking calcium supplements. Your total daily intake should be 1,000–1,500 mg calcium, balanced with 400–500 mg magnesium.

Modified from Health & Healing with permission from Healthy Directions, LLC. Photocopying, reproduction, or quotation strictly prohibited without written permission from the publisher. To subscribe to Health & Healingclick here

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