To give you the best start to your pregnancy we have teamed up with Nutritionist, Lucy Dawson, her first post focused on nutrition during pregnancy and this one backs it up with advice on the supplements you can take to help support a healthy diet.
- Your body will never go through another transformation quite like the nine months of your pregnancy. The complex miracle of making a baby is made a little easier with the right balance of vitamins and minerals. Your body – and your baby – will thank you if you spend time optimising your diet.
However, sometimes it can be difficult to make sure your diet is as good as it can be, especially when tiredness or morning sickness means you’re not at your best. This is where supplements can be a useful insurance policy, to ensure you get the right quantity and balance of nutrients to support your health and wellbeing.
So, what should you look for? Always choose supplements especially formulated for pregnancy. Never take more than the recommended dose – some nutrients, such as vitamin A, can be harmful to your baby if consumed in large quantities. Supplements that have been manufactured to GMP (“good manufacturing practice”) ensure you get a high quality product.
A good pregnancy supplement will contain the following balance of vitamins and minerals:
- Beta-carotene is the natural precursor to vitamin A, and is safe in pregnancy. It’s needed for healthy skin, vision and the immune system.
- B Vitamins are needed for general metabolism and the production of energy.
- Folic acid is one of the B vitamins. Taking 400mcg per day for the first trimester will help protect your baby against neural tube defects like Spina Bifida.
- Vitamin D helps the absorption of calcium and so is necessary for healthy teeth and bone formation. There is also emerging evidence that deficiency of Vitamin D during pregnancy might increase the risk of pre-eclampsia, one of the most serious pregnancy complications.
- Vitamin E protects against oxidative damage and may also be useful in supporting the uterine environment.
- Iron is fundamental for healthy blood as it transports nutrients and oxygen around your body.
- Zinc is required for proper cell division, therefore playing a critical role in foetal development.
- Calcium is important for a healthy nervous system, bones and teeth, and is involved muscular development.
- Magnesium works alongside calcium to ensure healthy bones and muscle function. Make sure your chosen supplement contains roughly equal quantities of both calcium and magnesium.
What else will help baby’s development?
Vitamin C has a very bulky molecular structure and so may need to be taken separately from your main multi-mineral and vitamin formulation. Amongst other benefits, it increases the absorption of iron and is an important antioxidant, protecting the body against harmful free radical damage. Vitamin C is water-soluble and cannot be stored in the body, meaning that regular replenishment is essential. Citrus fruits, strawberries, tomatoes and other vegetables are rich dietary sources of vitamin C.
If you’re not eating two portions of oily fish a week (such as salmon, trout, herring and mackerel) you should consider a high quality Omega 3 supplement containing EPA and DHA. Use a high quality fish oil from a GMP supplement company as this means it is unlikely to be contaminated by undesirable pollutants. Omega 3 fats are fundamental for brain and hormonal development.
Choosing the best pregnancy supplement can be complicated. Why not visit a BANT registered Nutritional Therapist who’ll be able to advise on the correct quantity and balance of nutrients for your own individual circumstances? Check out www.bant.org.uk to find a registered Nutritional Therapist in your area.
Lucy Dawson, BA(Hons)., BSc Nut. Med., mBANT., CNHC is a Nutritional Therapist who is currently pregnant with her first child.
You can read more about her, nutritional advice and recipes at www.lucydawson.co.uk