Are vitamins necessary to take during pregnancy?
It is good to take vitamins before becoming pregnant and during your pregnancy. You may have a good diet but the demands on your body whilst pregnant are enormous.
If you have consulted with either your GP, or chosen obstetrician while contemplating pregnancy, after gaining a full medical history, certain vitamins may be recommended to ensure your body is well prepared.
When a pregnancy is confirmed, then folic acid, iron, iodine and vitamin D may be recommended to assist your baby’s development. Your medical practitioner will prescribe the correct dose for you. They can be taken as separate supplements or as part of a pregnancy multivitamin.
Folic Acid lowers the risk of your baby developing a defect such as spina bifida. The dosage will depend on what medication you may already be taking or a family history of neural tube defects. There is some evidence it also reduces miscarriages.
Iodine is imperative for the development of your baby’s brain and nervous system. Current research shows that Australian women are not obtaining enough iodine in their diets.
Patients ask if taking an Iron supplement is also a good idea. Routine pregnancy blood tests will indicate if you have low iron levels and if so, you may be advised to add iron supplements.
Vitamin D is another that you may be advised to take if there is little exposure to sun, or you have dark skin or you cover your skin well. Vitamin D assists in the absorption of calcium and promotes bone growth plus boosting the immune system.
If you have a medical condition such as diabetes or develop gestational diabetes or perhaps you are vegetarian or vegan, then special supplements may be required. Your obstetrician will advise on what these might be.
There are also vitamins that you are best to avoid during pregnancy. Retinol is one as it can be toxic in unborn babies if consumed in large doses. Liver derived fish oil supplements are another to avoid as it can contain high levels of retinol.
It is important to follow the advice from your obstetrician both with what vitamins to take, to avoid and equally importantly, the dosage prescribed. Taking more than is prescribed will not give added benefits and may cause harm.