We all expect that it’s important to follow a healthy, balanced diet during pregnancy however; it’s extremely common for a woman to take some form of preconception vitamins and minerals as well as vitamins during pregnancy. This is to support the growth and development of the baby and to maintain good health throughout the pregnancy.
But what about vitamins and supplements while you are trying to conceive or are in the planning stages of pregnancy? If you are following a certain diet to maintain your ideal body, or have a health issue that cuts out certain staple foods, you may want to check that your are getting adequate nutrition to give the best start to a healthy pregnancy.
Vitamins and minerals to begin taking before getting pregnant:
Folic acid before pregnancy
Folic acid is essential to your baby’s neural development. Taking a folic acid supplement can prevent fetal neural tube defects, leading to defects such as spina bifida. Start taking 400 mcg daily when you are planning to get pregnant (ideally at least a month before you conceive but there is no harm to take it for longer) and continue until the end of your 12th week of pregnancy. The body cannot store folic acid and will rid itself of folic acid if it has too much. There are no pregnancy guidelines on how much folic acid in pregnancy is too much. Often cereals and other foods are fortified, but your body can easily get rid of this level of excess folic acid without harm.
If you have a family history of spinal defects or you have other children with a defect, it’s likely your doctor will prescribe you a larger dose of folic acid – up to 5 mg per day. Please talk to your medical practitioner if you are at all concerned over how much folic acid you should take.
Folic acid can be purchased separately or will often be part of specific pregnancy vitamins such as Pregnacare Conception and Sanatogen Mother & Father to be.
Vitamin D before pregnancy
Vitamin D regulates your body’s calcium and phosphate levels, needed for strong, healthy bones and teeth. Your baby will need Vitamin D in the first few months of life and this mostly comes from the mother during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Lack of Vitamin D can lead to rickets (bone softening), muscle disease and seizures in newborns. Too much Vitamin D, however, can be toxic and is possibly linked to food allergies. Conception and pregnancy guideline amounts are 600 IU (15 mcg) per day. While there are no real guidelines on how much Vitamin D is too much, keep under 4,000 IU per day to be safe. According to another study, 1500-2000 IU per day is ideal.
Other suggestions about the role of Vitamin D in pregnancy:
1. Vitamin D in pregnancy has been linked to mental health development and IQ.
2. Vitamin D deficiency in mothers-to-be has also been linked to preeclampsia, so ensure you take a supplement.
As with folic acid, Vitamin D is often included in specific pregnancy vitamins like Pregnacare Conception and Sanatogen Mother & Father to be.
Important Note: Micrograms are abbreviated to mcg or U symbol. They are 1,000 smaller than a milligram (mg) – please watch out for the unit of measure and know te difference between micrograms (U, mcg) and milligrams (mg).