It's a good idea to start prenatal supplements when you're trying to get pregnant. Be sure to look for these nutrients in your prenatal supplement and in the foods you eat!
Getting enough Folic Acid and Iron
Folic Acid (Folate) is a B Vitamin that plays an important role as your baby’s neural tube develops into the spine and brain. This occurs very early in pregnancy (often before you’re even aware you’re pregnant).
Iron is needed in extra supply because, between you and your baby, there’s a big increase in blood volume. More blood means more red blood cells that depend on Iron; not enough can lead to anemia. Don’t take more Iron than your obstetrician recommends; a mega dose of Iron can cause problems such as a Zinc imbalance.
If you don’t eat dairy foods or only eat them in limited amounts, a daily Calcium supplement is essential. But don’t count on a prenatal supplement to have all the Calcium you need, which is 1,000 mg daily. Taking a Calcium supplement separately, split into 300 mg several times a day, can help you get the Calcium you need. Talk to your doctor about your individual calcium supplement needs, and don’t overdo it, as a large amount can interfere with your body’s ability to absorb Iron.
DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid
There is growing evidence that the DHA supply in your body, while pregnant, may affect the early childhood growth and development of your baby. This fatty acid helps support your baby’s brain and eye development. Naturally occurring in fatty fish, such as salmon and sardines, a more consistent way to get DHA is through a supplement. The recommended daily amount is 300 mg DHA, typically available as fish oil or a marine algae-based supplement.
Choline is an essential nutrient that helps support brain development. It can be found in foods such as liver, fish, eggs and wheat germ. It's recommended that during pregnancy (and breastfeeding) mothers receive 550mg each day, so if your diet is not rich in these foods be sure to talk to your doc about a choline supplement.
What about probiotics?
Probiotics are often called "friendly bacteria" and can be helpful in supporting your digestive health when consumed on a regular basis. They are found in foods such as yogurt. Talk with your obstetrician if a probiotic supplement could be helpful to you.
With or without food?
Prenatal supplements are best when taken with food or right after eating. The nutrients are better absorbed with food.