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Q: Do I need 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 a day; many supplements only contain 150 milligrams to 250 milligrams. You can take a tums tablet daily to supplement it.
In addition, many pregnant women don’t get the institute of medicine’s recommendation for 600 IUs of vitamin D per day. But most prenatal vitamin formulations contain 400 IU, and this should be adequate when combined with a healthy diet, Dayal says. The March of Dimes also recommends that pregnant women get at least 200 milligrams of DHA daily. Found in fish and some plant-based, vegetarian sources, DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid that’s essential to fetal brain and eye development, Dayal says. Many prenatals contain DHA, but you also can take fish oil capsules; they’re mercury-free.
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 vitamin 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.”
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It’s best to get your obstetrician’s approval before picking an over- the-counter prenatal vitamin. “Pills containing certain herbs could be a concern, and those containing too much of a certain nutrient, such as vitamin A, can adversely affect a fetus’s development,” says Ashlesha Dayal, M.D., an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology and women’s health at the Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, N.Y.
Brainstrong Prenatal vitamins include a vegetarian DHA supplement. ($20 for 30 softgels and 30 tablets, brainstrongdha.com)
Fembody Nutrition Advanced Bone Activator contains vitamin D and 750 milligrams of organic, plant-based calcium. ($40 for 90 tablets, fembodynutrition.com)
Megafood Baby and Me Herb Free is vegetarian, gluten- and soy-free. ($45 for 120 tablets, vitacost.com)
New Chapter Perfect Prenatal Multivitamin contains probiotics, minerals and organic, whole-food vitamins. ($47 for 96 tablets, newchapter.com)
Nordic Naturals Prenatal DHA provides more than double the recommended amount of omega-3s (450 milligrams) in one dose. ($29 for 90 softgels, nordicnaturals.com)
One a Day Women’s Prenatal delivers pregnancy nutrients in a multivitamin and a DHA supplement. ($20 for
30 DHA softgels and 30 tablets, oneaday.com)
Rainbow Light Prenatal One Multivitamin is vegan and wheat-, gluten- and sugar-free. ($34 for 90 tablets, rainbowlight.com)