Supplements During Pregnancy: What to Know

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The foods you eat have a major impact on your health, and while you’re pregnant, they have an impact on your growing baby as well. As you can imagine, creating a new life requires a lot of extra nutrients. You’ve probably already heard that you should take a prenatal vitamin while you’re trying to conceive, throughout your pregnancy, and while you’re nursing.

But, taking a walk down the supplement aisle at your local store can be pretty overwhelming. How do know which prenatal supplements you need? Should you just grab the most expensive ones and hope for the best? Of course, you don’t want to skimp when it comes to your health and that of your unborn baby! Here’s why you need a prenatal supplement during pregnancy, and how to choose the best one.

Why Take Supplements During Pregnancy?

When you are pregnant or nursing, it’s important to be extra vigilant about meeting the additional nutritional needs of your body and her growing baby. Supplements can be very helpful for ensuring that you are getting enough of the vitamins and minerals your body needs. 

Some supplements can even help to alleviate certain pregnancy symptoms. Of course, every woman’s nutritional needs are different, so you should always consult with your healthcare practitioner before you begin taking any supplements. 

Keep in mind that supplements cannot take the place of a healthy diet. It’s still essential to eat a varied and nutritious diet throughout your pregnancy, even if you are taking supplements. A healthy pregnancy diet should include plenty of lean protein, leafy green vegetables, and healthy fats like olive oil, nuts, and avocados.

Which Supplements to Consider

Even with the best intentions, it can be very difficult to meet the additional nutritional requirements of pregnancy through diet alone. Morning sickness, food cravings and aversions, and digestive issues can make eating a healthy diet especially challenging for some expectant moms. Here the most important supplements to consider taking during pregnancy.

A Prenatal Vitamin

Taking a prenatal vitamin is a great way to ensure that you’re getting exactly what you and your baby need. While a mild vitamin or mineral deficiency may not have a huge, immediate impact on an adult, it could have lasting consequences for your baby during certain developmental stages of pregnancy. Think of your prenatal vitamin as your “insurance policy” to ensure that all nutritional needs are met each day.

The best prenatal vitamin formula should take the place of your regular multivitamin and include the following key nutrients:

  • Vitamin A helps grow healthy teeth and bones.
  • Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and promotes strong bones in both mom and baby.
  • Vitamin E to help the body form and use red blood cells.
  • Vitamin C for the immune system and to help the body absorb iron.
  • Thiamin for energy and regulating the nervous system.
  • Riboflavin for healthy eyes and skin
  • Niacin for healthy skin and nerves.
  • Pyridoxine or Vitamin B6 for producing red blood cells. Expectant moms will also be happy to hear that it may also help to prevent morning sickness.
  • Vitamin B12 for energy and DNA synthesis. Many also help to prevent neural tube birth defects.
  • Folate is crucial for preventing neural tube birth defects and supporting a healthy placenta.
  • Calcium is essential for strong teeth and bones in both mother and baby. It also helps to prevent blood clots and alleviate muscle spasms.
  • Iron is important for preventing anemia, premature delivery, and low birth weight. It also supports the distribution of oxygen in the bloodstream and gives you more energy during those exhausting times in the first and third trimester. However, you may not need to supplement iron if you eat red meat. Your doctor can check your levels and make a recommendation.
  • Zinc for a strong immune system.
  • Iodine is crucial for a baby’s brain development and supporting the nervous system. Iodine isn’t found in most foods and experts at the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend taking a supplement that contains iodine during pregnancy and while nursing.

Omega-3s and Probiotics

Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for the baby’s healthy brain development. Omega-3s also contain EPA and DHA which lower the risk of preeclampsia and preterm labor. They may also help to increase a baby’s birth weight. Omega-3 deficiency can also contribute to depression at any stage of life, including during and after pregnancy.

Probiotics are essential for a healthy digestive system. They can help to prevent diarrhea, constipation, and heartburn, which are common discomforts during pregnancy. Probiotics also assist with digestion and proper nutrient absorption. And finally, taking a probiotic during pregnancy can stabilize the blood sugar, which reduces the risk of developing gestational diabetes.

Most women will want to take both probiotics and omega-3 fatty acids at all stages of pregnancy. SmartyPants prenatal organic vitamins actually include omega-3s and probiotics in their complete prenatal formula for expectant moms. They’re great for mothers-to-be who don’t want to have to worry about taking additional pills, and they come in a tasty gummy vitamin form that’s super easy to get down, even if you’re feeling a little queasy.


Protein is essential for proper cellular growth and repair at all stages of life, but your need for protein increases dramatically during pregnancy. If you don’t eat meat or can’t stomach it due to nausea, supplementing with a high-quality protein powder can be helpful.

What to Avoid When Taking Prenatal Supplements

When choosing your prenatal supplements, look for organic formulas that contain pure ingredients. Stay away from products that contain synthetic colors or artificial sweeteners, flavors, or colors. 

Always read supplement labels carefully because some formulas contain common allergens like soy, gluten, or wheat.

In most cases, herbal supplements should be avoided unless recommended by your healthcare practitioner. Herbs can have unwanted effects during pregnancy, such as inducing preterm labor.

Final Thoughts

Prenatal supplements are like an insurance policy for ensuring that you’re meeting the additional nutritional requirements of pregnancy and nursing. There are tons of options to choose from but sticking to the guidelines in this article will help you choose the best prenatal vitamin for you and your baby.

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January 8, 2020
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1 Comment

  • Reply Sipu

    Hi Jenny,
    Thank you for this. I love how you explain everything. Will definitely keep all these supplements in mind for my next pregnancy.

    January 12, 2020 at 9:29 am
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