To ensure better health and a safe pregnancy the best things to do are:
- Maintain healthy and hygienic habits
- Eat a healthy, nutrient rich, well-balanced diet
- Drink plenty of water
Vitamin and Mineral Supplementation in Pregnancy
A healthy balanced diet usually means you do not need vitamin and mineral supplementation. Some women during pregnancy and breast feeding need extra nutrition supplementation.
It is recommended that folic acid should be taken for a minimum of one month before conception and for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. The recommended dose of folic acid is at least 0.4mg daily to aid the prevention of neural tube defects (NTD). If you are at an increased risk of NTD (e.g. anticonvulsant medication, pre-pregnancy diabetes mellitus, previous child or family history of NTD or BMI >30), Dr Sgroi will advise a 5mg daily dose.
Women at increased risk of folate deficiency (e.g. multiple pregnancies, haemolytic anaemia) should take 5mg of folic acid throughout the pregnancy.
Vegetarians and vegans should have Vitamin B12 supplement in pregnancy and breast feeding. (Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) 6 mcg/ day).
Many women are deficient in Vitamin D particularly veiled women, those who use sunscreen on a regular basis and dark-skinned women. Obesity has also been identified as a risk factor. Routinely Dr Sgroi will test your Vitamin D Level and advise whether you require supplementation. Vitamin D deficiency is known to be an important risk factor for the development of osteoporosis in later life.
Dr Sgroi might request you take Vitamin K in late pregnancy if you have cholestasis of pregnancy. This is due to the fact that you will not absorb Vitamin K that well.
Other Vitamin Supplementation
There is little evidence to support “routine” supplementation of other vitamins in pregnancy such as Vitamin A, C and E and, not unexpectedly, excessive quantities of fat soluble vitamins may be harmful.
The iron demands of pregnancy and breast feeding are increased due to the increase in your red blood cells, blood loss around the time of delivery and the demands of the developing baby and placenta. Iron supplementation is recommended for vegetarians and women with a multiple pregnancy. The recommended daily intake is 30mg/day.
See further information on anaemia in pregnancy
The recommended dietary intake of calcium per day for non pregnant women is 1300mg (ages 14-18 years) and 1000mg (19-50 years).
Iodine deficiency appears to be increasing in frequency. This may in part be related to a reduction in iodised salt intake and reduction of iodine in milk
Subclinical hypothyroidism can lead to recurrent miscarriages. Therefore avoiding iodine deficiency in pregnancy is important. Women who are pregnant, breast feeding or considering pregnancy should take an iodine supplement of 150 micrograms each day.
There is little evidence to support “routine” supplementation of other minerals in pregnancy such as magnesium, fluoride, zinc or rare minerals.
Other Nutritional Supplements
There is no extensive research showing the benefits of nutritional supplements in pregnancy e.g. omega-3 fatty acids. It probably best advice would be to avoid such supplements, particularly in the first trimester of pregnancy where any major risk to the pregnancy can be avoided.