Supplements in Pregnancy – Are they really necessary?
The first thing many women do upon discovering they’re expecting, is to purchase a pregnancy supplement to take daily for the next nine months. Others who’ve been trying to conceive may already be taking a specific pregnancy supplement, heeding the advice of healthcare professionals on the importance of nutrients like folate in the early days of pregnancy.
A variety of supplements are widely available, from the household name brands in chemists and supermarkets to the specialist brands in health food stores and nutrition clinics.
But if you’re already following a healthy diet, do you really need a supplement? The fertility & pregnancy nutritionists from Broody Foodie believe so.
Pregnancy is an incredibly demanding physical process, so a woman’s nutritional status needs to be at it’s absolute best in order to provide the nutrients her growing baby needs as well as ensure she’s getting enough for herself.
Eating healthily should provide the foundation and main source of nutrients like protein, calcium, iron, zinc, folate, iodine as well as vitamins B, C and E which are essential throughout pregnancy, however a new Australian study shows that expectant mothers are falling short, eating less than half the recommended servings of key food sources.
This puts mothers and babies at a higher risk of neural tube defects like spina bifida, low birth weight or anaemia during and after pregnancy as well as chronic diseases like obesity or diabetes later in life.
The rapid cell division that occurs babies develop in the womb is entirely fuelled by what mothers consume, so a supplement will help to ‘top up’ the nutrients from food to meet the recommended government guidelines.
Most over-the-counter tablets cost around $30 for 60 capsules – which is equivalent to $0.50 a day. That’s a small price to pay for the health of your most precious arrival and your own wellbeing.
So which supplement is best? Ingredient quantities vary between brands and usually offer a unique benefit, whether it be probiotics or DHA. However, mums-to-be would be wise to check whether these ingredients are in sufficient quantities to meet their daily needs. Most nutritionists would prefer their clients to take a good pregnancy multivitamin as well as a separate DHA, probiotic and iodine supplement.
For example, Elevit is a reasonably priced over-the-counter supplement which has the highest levels of iron and calcium, but doesn’t contain iodine, so a supplement of 150ug per day needs to be taken in addition. Supplements which can only be obtained from a qualified nutritionist, known as ‘practitioner only’ tend to have higher levels of all essential vitamins and minerals in complimentary amounts to optimise absorption. The recommended dose is sometimes two, rather than one tablet daily, which doubles the cost, but means mothers and babies are going to be well nourished. Genesis and Bioceuticals are two brands with a good range of nutrients.
Still unsure? You’re not alone. The Australian study of pregnant women’s diets found that while over the women wanted to learn about good nutrition, only a small number had access to specialist advice on healthy eating and appropriate weight gain during pregnancy. Dietitians and nutritionists specialising in pregnancy nutrition can usually be sourced via the Internet.
Sophie Halls Anning is a fertility and pregnancy nutritionist, providing consultations in the Eastern Suburbs or via Skype for busy mums-to-be or clients outside of Sydney. A 12 week program, or advice before, during and after pregnancy will help you meet all the nutritional needs for both yourself and your growing baby with structured eating plans and simple, tasty recipes. Find out more athttp://broodyfoodie.com.au/