Supplements for Pregnant & Nursing Women

The saying goes "you are what you eat", but when you're pregnant whatever you eat is also what your fetus eats. A mother's dietary intake determines the composition of her blood supply, which supplies oxygen and nutrients to the developing baby. Careful attention should be paid to diet, nutrition and supplements when pregnant or nursing.

Folic acid is important for forming the baby's spinal cord, and deficiencies have been linked to neural tube defects like spina bifida. It is recommended to take folic acid before you conceive and at least up until the 12th week of pregnancy.

Calcium needs increase during pregnancy and lactation. If the diet doesn't provide an adequate supply, this mineral is leached from the mother's bones. Take it in conjunction with vitamin D, which helps calcium absorb better.

Iron is necessary for the developing blood supply of the fetus and the mother's expanding blood volume. Many women become deficient in iron during pregnancy, so eat plenty of iron rich foods or take supplements (at your doctor's advice) if iron stores are poor.

Taking Vitamin C along with iron helps this mineral absorb. Vitamin A, the B vitamins, magnesium and zinc are also important during this time in woman's life. A good prenatal supplement should contain all the vitamins and minerals needed for a healthy mother and child.

It may be wise to continue taking a prenatal supplement when breastfeeding. Calcium intake is particularly important at this time, as is Vitamin B12. Some of the herbs that may help lactating women increase their milk supply include blessed thistle, fenugreek, marshmallow, nettle and red raspberry leaf.

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