Whether you're pregnant with your first child or your fifth, you want to do everything you can to keep yourself and your baby healthy.
There are lots of supplements out there that claim to be the greatest thing since sliced bread for mothers and babies. But which ones do you actually need for a healthy pregnancy?
Read on to learn more about some of the best pregnancy supplements on the market. We'll tell you what to take and what to avoid to make sure you and your baby get all the nutrients needed for optimal health.
When you're pregnant, both your macronutrient and micronutrient needs increase quite a bit.
Macronutrients are carbohydrates, fats, and protein. Micronutrients include minerals, vitamins, and other trace elements.
Micronutrient needs increase even more than macronutrient needs when you're pregnant.
This is because these vitamins and minerals are necessary for healthy fetal and maternal growth. They support you and your baby through every stage of pregnancy, and are needed for functions like cell signaling and repair.
Technically, you can meet your increased micronutrient demand by consuming a carefully planned, nutrient-dense diet.
This is often a challenge for the average person. Most of us are busy people just doing their best in a world that is saturated with highly processed, nutrient-poor food options.
Many women are also deficient in at least one vitamin or mineral without even knowing it. For this reason, they need supplements to help correct these deficiencies.
Other women who can benefit from taking the best pregnancy supplements include:
Women with hyperemesis gravidarum: This is a pregnancy complication that causes severe vomiting and nausea. It may also lead to nutrient deficiencies and weight loss.
Women with dietary restrictions: Those who are vegan, vegetarian, or suffer from food intolerances are more prone to micronutrient deficiencies.
Women who are pregnant with twins or triplets: Women who carry more than one baby tend to have higher micronutrient needs than those carrying just one baby.
Women with genetic mutations like MTHFR: The MTHFR gene converts folate into a usable form. Women with this gene mutation typically need to supplement with folate to avoid complications.
If you fall into any of these categories, or you know that you don't consume as many micronutrients as you should, consider taking supplements during pregnancy.
Some of the best supplements that every pregnant woman can benefit from include:
A prenatal vitamin is one of the best pregnancy supplements for expecting moms. These are simply multivitamins that help you get several of the micronutrients your body needs in one capsule or tablet.
Most formulas include varying amounts of folic acid, vitamin D, calcium, vitamin C, B vitamins, zinc, iron, and iodine.
It's important to check the label and make sure your prenatal vitamin includes a sufficient amount of each nutrient. Otherwise, you may not be getting everything you need for pregnancy health.
Both DHA and EPA are essential for fetal brain development. Some studies also suggest that fish oil can help reduce the risk of premature birth and other pregnancy complications.
If you don't want to take a fish oil supplement, you can also get a sufficient amount of DHA and EPA through your diet. The easiest way to do this is to eat two or three servings of fatty, low-mercury fish like sardines, salmon, and herring each week.
Many prenatal vitamins contain calcium. Unfortunately, they only have a small percentage of the recommended daily value.
Because of this, it can be helpful to supplement with calcium during your pregnancy.
This mineral is essential for your baby's skeletal growth. If the baby does not get a sufficient amount of calcium, he may end up taking it from your bones.
Calcium also fortifies your breast milk to ensure your baby continues to get the nutrients needed after birth.
Vitamin D is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies, and it's another one of the best pregnancy supplements you can take.
The body requires vitamin D for cell division, immune function, and healthy bones. If you're deficient in vitamin D, you will also have a hard time absorbing calcium.
Women who are deficient have an increased risk of conditions like preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and preterm birth. They may also require a cesarean section.
Magnesium plays a role in hundreds of different chemical reactions in the body. It's especially important for healthy immune, nerve, and muscle function.
Because magnesium is involved in so many different processes, it's easy to become deficient in it.
Magnesium deficiency in pregnancy can increase your risk of preeclampsia, premature labor, fetal growth restriction, and chronic hypertension.
Probiotics are all the rage right now, and they're definitely one of the best pregnancy supplements you can take.
A quality probiotic supplement helps encourage a healthy gut microbiome for you and your baby.
By supplementing with probiotics, you can set your child up for success and equip his microbiome with tons of good bacteria. These microorganisms are essential for good digestion and immune health.
Probiotics also ensure proper nutrient absorption for you and your baby. Plus, they increase your odds of being able to successfully breastfeed.
You can supplement with probiotic capsules or increase your consumption of fermented foods like sauerkraut and kefir. These foods are naturally rich in probiotics.
The B vitamin folate is essential for fetal growth and development, specifically DNA synthesis and red blood cell production. It also prevents congenital abnormalities like heart defects or cleft palates as well as neural tube defects.
Most prenatal vitamins contain folate or folic acid (the synthetic form of folate). Women with an MTHFR genetic mutation should look for one that contains L-methylfolate. This will ensure maximum absorption.
Iron is necessary for healthy fetal and placental growth and development.
Many women experience an increased need for iron during pregnancy.
For those with normal levels of iron, the amount included in most prenatal vitamins is plenty. For women with iron deficiency or anemia, extra supplementation may be required.
Approximately 18 percent of pregnant women in the United States are iron deficient. Of that group, five percent are anemic.
Iron supplementation is essential for iron deficient or anemic expectant mothers. Those who do not have either of these conditions should not consume additional iron.
Too much of this mineral may increase hemoglobin levels, and cause constipation and vomiting.
Ginger is a spice that can help treat nausea and vomiting, which often occur during pregnancy.
Research shows that ginger supplements are safe for pregnant women.
Now that we've covered the best pregnancy supplements, it's important to talk about those that are considered dangerous for pregnant women. To stay safe and enjoy optimal health, avoid the following:
Vitamin A is necessary for fetal immune function and vision development. When consumed in excess, it can be harmful.
This fat-soluble vitamin supports eye and skin health. Your body stores excess amounts of it in the liver. When too much vitamin A accumulates in the liver, it can cause severe damage and birth defects.
Vitamin E is another fat-soluble vitamin. While it's necessary for the body in small amounts, it may cause health problems when consumed in excess.
Some studies have linked overdosing with abdominal pain and a premature rupture of the amniotic sack.
Many women take black cohosh, an herbal supplement, to control menstrual cramps and hot flashes.
This plant is not considered safe to consume during pregnancy. It can cause uterine contractions that may induce preterm labor.
Goldenseal is another plant that is not suitable for pregnant women.
It contains berberine, a substance that can worsen jaundice and cause a rare and fatal type of brain damage called kernicterus.
Like black cohosh, dong quai can help treat painful menstrual cramps. However, it's not safe for pregnant women because it can stimulate uterine contractions and increase the risk of miscarriage.
When it comes to buying pregnancy supplements, it's important to be able to differentiate high-quality formulas from lower quality products.
Keep these tips in mind when you're shopping to make sure you buy the best pregnancy supplements.
Before buying any supplements, especially those that claim to be the best pregnancy supplements on the market, it's important to do some research on the company. Try to find out more about their reputation and the ingredients used.
Check to see if there have been recalls or complaints about the products. Take a look at their website to see what their customer service policies are. For example, will they provide a refund if you're not satisfied?
Good labeling practices are another sign that you're buying a high-quality supplement.
The manufacturer should list all active and inactive ingredients on the label. Avoid any products that contain questionable inactive ingredients like artificial flavors, colors, or sweeteners.
The label should also state if the product contains contraindications or potential allergens. Steer clear of supplements that contain lactose, wheat, or hydrogenated oils.
A good manufacturer will be willing to pay to have their products tested for purity and quality by an independent laboratory. This is a sign that they offer some of the best pregnancy supplements out there.
The following labs are considered trustworthy:
Manufacturers typically state whether or not their product was third-party tested on the label or on their website.
Finally, don't forget to make sure your supplement contains the appropriate dosage for you. There's no point in supplementation if the product you buy doesn't contain enough of the nutrients you need.
Supplements should be used in conjunction with a healthy diet. You can't use vitamins and other supplements to make up for overconsuming poor quality food.
In addition to using the best pregnancy supplements, you should also support your baby's health by eating a healthy, balanced diet. Foods to consume on a regular basis include:
Other good foods to add to your diet are homemade bone broths, fruit -- especially berries -- and green smoothies, which can be good for women who struggle with nausea or food aversions.
You should also decrease your consumption of certain foods and ingredients. Not even the best pregnancy supplements can compensate for bad eating.
At best, they don't provide your body with any essential macro or micronutrients. At worst, they can be harmful to your health and your baby's health.
Here are some examples:
It's also important to avoid any herbs or medicines that your doctor or midwife does not approve of.
Stay away from environmental toxins too. Common ones include BPA from plastic containers, aluminum in antiperspirants, and other chemicals in laundry detergent, household cleaners, and other personal care products.
You now know more about the best pregnancy supplements you can take for you and your baby's health. And you probably have some shopping to do.
To find high-quality supplements to support your pregnancy, head to our online store. You can get everything you need through our shop from the comfort of your own home!