If you're pregnant, you need larger amounts of certain vitamins and minerals, particularly iron and folic acid, as well as DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid. Prenatal vitamins, which can be purchased by prescription or over the counter, meet these needs. Some prenatal vitamins contain DHA; or you can take a separate fish oil capsule; or eat fish twice per week, avoiding shark, swordfish, King Mackerel, and tilefish.
It is important not to take other supplements unless specifically advised by a qualified health care provider. The earliest weeks of pregnancy are crucial in the fetus' development, so the sooner in pregnancy you start taking a prenatal vitamin, the better.
If you plan to get pregnant or learn that you are, talk with your doctor right away to find out which prenatal supplement would be best for you to take. During pregnancy, your iron requirement increases to 27 mg and your folic acid requirement to 600 mcg. The calcium Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) remains at 1,000 mg for women ages 19 and over, although some clinicians suggest adding calcium during pregnancy for extra insurance.
Guidelines from the World Health Organization recommend that pregnant and nursing women consume an average of 200 mg/per day or more of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), either by eating fish or taking fish oil supplements, to optimize the baby’s brain development.
More Answers from Dariush Mozaffarian