Author: Christine Rauch-Nell (B.Pharm) & Michelle Dateling (B.Optom, Dip.Sports Vision; MBA)
The best time to start taking pregnancy vitamins is before you fall pregnant. Vitamins for pregnant women can help keep you and your growing baby healthy, ensuring that you are both getting all the nutrients you need to make it through those 9 months of pregnancy.
If you are not already taking pregnancy vitamins (also commonly known as “pregnancy supplements”, “prenatal vitamins” and “prenatal supplements”) you should start as soon as you know you are pregnant. Vitamins for pregnant women can be taken before, during and after pregnancy (during breastfeeding).
During pregnancy your baby will deplete your body of all your nutrients so that they can grow and develop. And during breastfeeding your baby will still depend on you for all their nutrient requirements in the breastmilk. Eating a healthy diet before, during and after pregnancy is always important, but sometimes it is not enough to sustain both a healthy mom and baby as there are increased requirements. That is where pregnancy vitamins can help.
Here is a list of 11 pregnancy vitamins you should be taking and why?
§ When it comes to the development of baby’s eyes and the prevention of night blindness Vitamin A is an extremely important vitamin to take during pregnancy. However, if quantities higher than 10 000 IU are ingested it can lead to birth defects. Skin medication high in Vitamin A are contraindicated in pregnancy.
§ Pregnancy comes with a lot of challenges like decreased energy, mood changes, morning sickness, anemia, ankle swelling and bloating. B-Complex Vitamins play an important role in alleviating these challenges naturally.
§ During pregnancy mom’s health and immune system can take quite a knock, which is why Vitamin C is so important to assist with boosting the immune system, preventing bleeding gums, and assisting in iron absorption. Vitamin C is especially important during the 2nd Trimester of pregnancy when baby’s connective tissues, cartilage, muscles, and skin forms.
§ Pregnant women often struggle with decreased calcium levels as calcium is moved to baby for bone formation, leaving mom prone to weak teeth and possible osteoporosis. Vitamin D is essential for the absorption of calcium.
§ Waking up in the morning with extra hair on the pillow and thinning of hair can be found in the 1st trimester of pregnancy due to the sudden shift in hormone levels placing extra stress on the body. Biotin and Folate are essential vitamins involved in hair growth.
§ Calcium and Magnesium are vital minerals important for the formation of healthy bones and teeth and assist with muscle contraction and relaxation. Calcium and Magnesium to also aid in heartburn, leg cramps and insomnia.
§ Frequently mommies to be will complain of “pregnancy associated forgetfulness” and after baby is born post-partum depression can easily take effect. Omega-3 Fatty Acids contain DHA for healthy brain and eye development and EPA for heart, bone, and joint health.
§ One of the scariest occurrences during early pregnancy are Neural Tube Defects (NTD’s). Baby’s brain and spinal cord develop from the Neural Tube, and the Neural Tube closes day 21-28 after conception. Neural Tube Defects result from Low Folate levels, therefore the most important vitamin before and during early pregnancy is Folate. Low levels have also been linked to an increased risk of pre-eclampsia and early-stage recurrent miscarriage. Make sure to take the active form of folate (5-MTHF) as some women cannot break down and absorb synthetic folic acid.
§ Gestational Diabetes can often develop in the middle of pregnancy when there are high levels of glucose in the blood. It can often be controlled through healthy eating and regular exercise. Inositol plays an essential role in the control and balance of glucose levels. Myo-inositol and folate also work together to prevent neural tube defects.
§ Pregnancy related anaemia is common in pregnancy as the blood volume doubles in the second trimester. This can lead to extreme fatigue. Taking an amino acid chelated Iron, is softer on the tummy and can give mom the boost of energy she needs.
Not sure what pregnancy vitamins to buy? Stellar-Mama and Preggy-Mama are both comprehensive pregnancy supplements for pregnant women that contain all the vitamins and minerals you will need to support a healthy pregnancy. Stellar-Mama and Preggy-Mama both contain the active form of folate which is better absorbed than synthetic folic acid.
What’s the difference between Stellar-Mama and Preggy-Mama?
Stellar-Mama contains 3 different components and is suitable for pescatarians (contains Omega-3 Fatty Acids), and Preggy-Mama contains 1 component and is suitable for vegans. Both products are also sucrose free, lactose free, gluten free and tartrazine free.
Christine Rauch-Nell B.Pharm (Wits) and Michelle Dateling B.Optom (UJ) Dip.Sports Vision (UJ) MBA (Wits)
Cavalli P. (2008). Prevention of Neural Tube Defects and proper folate periconceptional supplementation. Journal of prenatal medicine, 2(4), 40–41.
Scaglione F, and Panzavolta G. (2014) Folate, folic acid and 5-methyltetrahydrofolate are not the same thing, Xenobiotica, 44:5, 480-488, DOI: 10.3109/00498254.2013.845705.
Gombart AF, Pierre A, and Maggini S. (2020). A Review of Micronutrients and the Immune System-Working in Harmony to Reduce the Risk of Infection. Nutrients. Jan 16;12(1):236. doi: 10.3390/nu12010236. PMID: 31963293; PMCID: PMC7019735.