Finding out you’re pregnant raises loads of questions, doesn’t it? You’ll probably have to re-write your shopping list and tone down your exercise regime to make way for the changes your body is about to go through. So, another thing you’re probably wondering is: do I need supplements? And the straight-up answer is yes, some. The truth is, if you’re taking a balanced approach to eating, your diet is going to be fuelling you with the vitamins and nutrients you need. There are a couple of supplements that are important and others that you should consider taking depending on what you’re lacking — but you know your body best, so play it by what works for you.
This is the biggie. All pregnant women should be taking 400mg of folic acid each day until they hit 12 weeks, recommends NHS England. Why? Because it can help to prevent birth defects. You can get it from leafy green veg and certain breakfast cereals and, while it’s always going to be better getting your nutrients from a natural source, it’s hard to hit the recommended amount from food alone. Pick up folic acid supplements from pharmacies, supermarkets or ask your GP.
We all ought to be taking vitamin D. The great British weather doesn’t deliver enough sunshine for us to soak up the vitamin naturally, so a supplement it is. You can also get vitamin D from oily fish, eggs and red meat but it’s always worth topping up to 10 mg with a supplement each day. What’s it doing inside your body? Reducing the risk of a couple of pregnancy complications, keeping bones and muscles healthy (yours and the baby’s), and lowering your chance of catching a cold. It’s a no-brainer, really.
This is where your balanced diet comes into play. If you’re packing in the leafy veg, lean meat, dried fruit and nuts, you’re probably already getting enough iron. An indicator your iron levels are low? You’re super-tired all the time. Query it with your GP or midwife; they’ll let you know if you’re deficient and might suggest a supplement.
If you’re dipping into all the food groups regularly, you’re pretty sorted for nutrients and vitamins. If you’re vegan or vegetarian, it’s often a good shout to take a multivitamin to make sure you’re covering bases — omega 3, vitamin C and the B vitamins etc. Just remember, folic acid and vitamin D are the big two, and iron is one it’s fairly common to be lacking. Tune into your body, if you know you’re missing oily fish or nuts, consider a multivitamin.