Between morning sickness, pregnancy cravings, and aversions to different types of food, getting proper nutrition while pregnant can be tough. An essential part of eating healthy is getting enough macronutrients, which are carbohydrates, protein, and fat. These provide energy in the form of calories and are especially needed for those who lead an active lifestyle. Micronutrients, on the other hand, are the vitamins and minerals your body needs to properly function.
However, it’s still possible to miss key nutrients even with a balanced diet. That’s why our experts listed the top vitamins for pregnant women. Here are the micronutrients, prenatal multivitamins, and probiotics that will help.
Calcium is important for developing bones, especially in the third trimester. It also helps your baby’s teeth, heart, muscles, and nerves develop. Without enough calcium, your body will take it from your bones and give it to your baby. This could lead to health problems later in life, such as osteoporosis, in which bones become thin and break easily. This mineral helps to decrease the risk of pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH) and preeclampsia.
Recommended amount: 1,500 – 2,000 mg/day
Many pregnant women don’t get enough choline from their diet alone and may need a supplement. Choline is needed during pregnancy because this essential nutrient helps your baby’s brain and spinal cord develop properly. In fact, choline is converted into a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, which activates pain responses, helps muscles contract, and plays a role in neurodevelopment.
The right amount of folic acid, or more specifically methyl folate, prevents neural tube defects like spina bifida. As WellRabbit Founder and CEO Dr. Jeffrey Hendricks said in his TEDx Talk, “Today we have dramatically reduced the incidence of spina bifida, and in many cases, we’ve eliminated it altogether. So, what was this miracle breakthrough treatment that made this possible? It was one milligram of folic acid added to a prenatal vitamin, and to give you an idea of the impact this had: I’ve been a physician for 19 years. I’ve treated roughly 50,000 patients. This recommendation was made right before I started practice, and I have yet to see a single case of spina bifida.”
Iodine is key in making thyroid hormones. Those with hypothyroidism could have a harder time becoming pregnant. If your thyroid levels are low, take an iodine supplement. Iodine also helps your baby’s nervous system develop and can prevent miscarriages and learning or hearing problems.
Iron helps your body make hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. During pregnancy, these blood cells also carry oxygen to the baby, so more iron is needed. Without enough iron, you could become anemic, have a premature birth, or the baby could have a low birth weight.
Recommended amount: 30 – 60 mg/day
While you may not have heard of methylcobalamin, it’s actually a naturally occurring form of vitamin B12. It can be obtained through supplements or foods like meat, eggs, fish, and milk. This vitamin is important for neurological development and helps to prevent spina bifida.
Of the omega-3 fatty acids, doctors often recommend taking a docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) supplement before, during, and after pregnancy. DHA helps support the development of the baby’s brain, eyes, and nervous system. It can also help prevent a low birth weight and preterm labor and reduce symptoms of postpartum depression. DHA is a structural component of cell membranes and is the most abundant polyunsaturated fatty acid in the brain. It is generally hard to take too much of this valuable fatty acid, and the more the better. The one caveat is to watch for bruising, as DHA is a natural blood thinner.
A prenatal vitamin is a multivitamin designed with pregnancy and breastfeeding in mind. Whether you’re hoping to conceive or are pregnant, prenatal vitamins can help fill any nutritional gaps in your diet. The number of vitamins and minerals in these supplements are safe and contain many of the items listed above. Prenatal vitamins also have B-complex vitamins that support cellular energy production.
Pregnant women can have a diminished quality of life due to nausea, vomiting, and constipation. Luckily, supplementing with a probiotic can benefit their gastrointestinal function. Researchers found that probiotics significantly decrease these symptoms and help pregnant women feel less fatigued, have a better appetite, and experience less difficulty in maintaining normal social activities.
With so many options out there, it can seem hard to make the right choice. Yet, WellRabbit makes it easy by vetting all products through our MDRC™ (Medical Doctor Research Certified) program and offering maximum transparency to consumers. Simply go to the e-commerce page and check out our vitamins for pregnant women!