The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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Q: Is it necessary to take anything in addition to my prenatal vitamin?
A: “Supplement with calcium if your prenatal doesn’t contain enough,” says Kukreja. Most don’t because adding too much calcium to a multivitamin makes it unstable. Pregnant women need 1,000 milligrams (mg) a day; many supplements only contain 150 to 250 milligrams. You can take a Tums tablet daily to supplement it.
Additionally, a recent study found that many pregnant women are deficient in vitamin D. A supplement containing 200 IU will give you your daily dose, as will getting five to 30 minutes of sun exposure without sunscreen, at least twice a week.
What’s more, the World Association of Perinatal Medicine recommends that pregnant women get at least 200 milligrams of DHA daily. Found in fish and some vegetarian sources, DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid that’s essential to fetal brain development. Many prenatals contain DHA. You also can take a fish oil capsule; they’re mercury-free.
Q: I recently learned that iodine is important. Do prenatals contain it? If not, do I need a supplement?
A: Some do and some don’t; be sure to check the label of any supplement you take. “Based on current knowledge, it’s not recommended,” says Kukreja. That may change in the future, but for now you can get iodine from iodized salt. Pregnant women should get 220 micrograms a day. A half teaspoon of iodized salt contains 190 micrograms, and the median intake women get from food daily is 190 to 210 micrograms.
Q: I’m a vegetarian. Should I be taking any additional supplements?
A: “Because [strict] vegetarians are not consuming animal products, the nutrients they tend to need are vita-min B12, zinc, iron and omega-3 fatty acids like DHA,” says Greene. “Look for supplements that contain these vitamins plus DHA from algae, a vegetarian source, rather than from fish.”
Q: What should I do if I have morning sickness and am throwing up?
A: “Try to take the vitamin before you go to bed at night, so you can sleep through the nausea,” says Dayal.
Important nutrients for pregnant women
|Folic acid||600 mcg|
|Vitamin B6||1.9 mg|
|Vitamin B12||2.6 mcg|
|Vitamin C||80 mg|
|Vitamin D||200 IU|
|Vitamin E||15 mg|