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Monday 11 December 2017

Which supplements should I take now I am pregnant?

I used to regularly take multivitamins, cod-liver oil and garlic capsules, mainly to prevent catching colds and the 'flu. I just found out I'm pregnant, and have stopped taking these now and would like to know which supplements are safe to take?

Once your diet is well-balanced and healthy, the only supplement that is recommended in pregnancy is folic acid in a dose of 400mcg daily. If you are well with no other medical problems, that is all that you need. It is best to take folic acid in the months before conception also.

Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate -- a B vitamin that helps prevent neural tube defects or serious abnormalities of the brain and spinal cord. Lack of folate in a pregnancy diet may also increase the risk of pre-term delivery. Fortified cereals, leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, dried beans and peas are good dietary sources of folic acid.

I've read about the dangers of taking vitamin A while pregnant and am concerned the cod-liver oil I was taking may have done some damage?

You really don't need to worry about any problems caused by taking cod-liver oil and the extra vitamin A it contains. You would have to take very high doses over a period of time to cause any harm to your baby.

I had anaemia during my teens, does pregnancy increase your risk of this? How will I know if I am anaemic? Should I start taking iron supplements?

The routine blood tests done as part of your antenatal care will show if you are anaemic to any significant degree, and if you need additional iron supplements.

Your body uses iron to make haemoglobin, a protein in the red blood cells that carry oxygen to your tissues.

During pregnancy, your blood volume expands to accommodate changes in your body and helps your baby make his/her entire blood supply. As a result, your need for iron nearly doubles.

If you don't get enough iron, you can become tired easily and be more prone to infections. Also the risk of pre-term delivery and low birth weight may also be higher.

Increase intake of iron from your diet as your body absorbs this form more easily. Lean red meat, poultry and fish are good sources of iron. There are iron supplements suitable for pregnancy, talk to your doctor.

Remember, calcium also helps your circulatory, muscular and nervous system run smoothly.

If there's not enough calcium in your diet during pregnancy the extra calcium needed will be taken from your bones. Include calcium-rich foods such as dairy products, tinned salmon, and dark green leafy vegetables in your diet too.

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