The Lowdown on Prenatal Vitamins
Getting adequate amounts of this all-important prenatal nutrient—also known as folate—reduces the risk of specific birth defects, like spina bifida (an incomplete spinal cord). It also reduces your infant's cancer risk for the first 6 years of life.
Aim for this amount: At least 400 micrograms (mcg) from supplements, such as a prenatal folic acid vitamin pill, and a total of at least 800 mcg, including the amounts from food.
A full-term baby accumulates 30 grams of calcium in bone mass, so a mom needs to make sure to get adequate amounts to maintain her own bone strength and get those necessary bone builders to the baby.
Aim for this amount: We recommend taking 600 mg of calcium citrate supplements twice a day, plus 200 mg of magnesium twice a day. Calcium without magnesium leads to constipation, so choose your combo carefully. Also, try to eat three or four servings of calcium-rich foods every day.
Because a mom transfers about 1,000 milligrams (mg) of iron to a growing baby and increases her total number of red blood cells by 20 to 30 percent, it's important to get adequate iron during pregnancy.
Aim for this amount: 20 mg twice a day.
The omega-3 fatty acid DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is a major structural component in both your child's brain and your own. Fetuses are pretty assertive when it comes to taking omega-3 fatty acids for brain development, so you'll be depleted of those important neuron protectors unless you make a point of getting them through diet or supplements. DHA seems to help repair your brain cells or connections damaged by stress.
Aim for this amount: A minimum of 200 to 300 mg of DHA per day from fish, fortified foods or supplements is what we recommend for moms-to-be. Recent research indicates that 600 to 900 mg may be even better. More and more prenatal vitamins are including this important nutrient, but double-check to see if your vitamin does. If it doesn't, ask your doc whether you should take DHA supplements.