In general, most women are well-nourished. If they have a well-balanced, whole-foods diet, they don’t really need much in the way of supplements. Prenatal vitamins are designed to ensure that moms don’t get deficient as their baby takes what it needs from your body as it grows. But some brands can cause an upset stomach or require that you take five a day. Try your store brand as it won’t be too expensive. If you are forgetful about taking pills, buy those that only require you to take one a day.
Folic acid is a great idea, since it can be hard to get by diet alone if you aren’t consistently eating 5 servings of fruits and veggies daily, especially your dark green veggies like broccoli, kale, spinach and collard greens. Plus, if you have morning sickness, veggies are sometimes not top on the list for appetizing foods. Folic acid is water-soluble, so if you are eating enriched cereals, be sure to drink the milk! Plus, you’ll be getting your daily calcium that way. 400-800 micrograms of folic acid daily is recommended for your childbearing years, and more if your family has a history of Spina Bifida—this is to prevent birth defects and help in neurological development in your baby. It helps you keep your bodily functions going as well!
We also recommend at least 300mg of DHA, which is an omega fatty acid. This is included in some prenatal vitamins; if not, purchase it as a separate supplement. One good brand is Nordic Naturals. Made from anchovies and sardines, it has a nice lemon flavor. If you are a vegetarian, there is a form made from algae. Fish oil is not only essential for neurological and eye development, it’s also been shown to reduce risk of cardiovascular diseases and depression!
The liquid supplement Floradix is an easy-to-absorb iron and B-vitamin complex. You can try a sample at all Austin Area Birthing Center locations.Another liquid supplement called Bliss features folic acid, B6, and ginger, which may help with nausea.
Since it is stored in your body, vitamin A intake should be limited to prevent toxic levels. In fact, it is safest to eat carrots and orange squash, and sweet potatoes to get your vitamin A. Most prenatal supplements have lower doses such as 500 units or less. Vitamin D is also necessary for absorption of calcium. 400-4000 units is recommended depending on how much sun exposure you are getting. If you are wearing sunblock or have dark skin it is best to go on the higher end of the range. This is best absorbed in D3. Check labels and ask your own midwife if you’re unsure about Vitamin D dosages. Daily requirements are about 1000-1500 mg daily. Try to keep track of what you are getting from your food labels so you don’t overdo it. Iron is best absorbed as Ferrous Sulfate with about 500 mg of vitamin C.
Once you find what you like, it is a good idea to take it to your midwife visits so that they can verify that what you are eating and taking all add up to great nutrition for you and baby!