Pregnancy Supplements: Advantageous or Detrimental? This is the question that pregnant women would like to have answered consistently.
As a standard practice, people self-prescribe supplements. The information of choice comes from advice of others, websites, books, television, media, etc… all of which may or may not be accurate. When recommendations are made by a dietitian or health care professional, a valid nutrition assessment for supplementation may be justified. However, even under this advice, the preferred course of action would be to make better food choices prior to taking supplements. During pregnancy, the choice is not as clearly defined.
Pregnancy Supplements: Advantages
Because pregnancy is a crucial time, it requires all necessary precautions to insure the health of the mother and the safe delivery of the baby. Nutrient needs increase during the pregnancy, making it difficult to meet all the health requirements without supplementation. Advantages of supplements during pregnancy are as follows:
- Fulfill the increase in energy level requirements.
- Vitamin B12, iron, and zinc supplements aid in cell production.
- Vitamin D, Calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and fluoride help in the bone development process.
- Prenatal Vitamins may help reduce low infant birthrates and birth defects.
Pregnancy Supplements: Disadvantages
Proper nutrition and diet rarely cause nutrient imbalances or toxicities. Supplementation can cause both. Since it is undetermined how much of a nutrient is enough or not enough, often the required amount will go undetermined. Detrimental warnings for pregnancy and supplements are as follows:
- High protein supplements during pregnancy can have harmful effects.
- Toxic levels of supplements in the body, including iron, are hard to dispose of and can have serious effects.
- Pregnancy supplements may give a false sense of security. Make sure the supplement is being taken only to replace a deficiency requirement or to increase a nutrient level.
- Labels can be misleading. They often make claims that are supported by scientific criteria, but are not yet approved.
Avoid supplements during pregnancy that provide more than the tolerable recommended level.
Pregnancy supplements provide nutrients and are advantageous for specific requirements. At the same time, pregnancy supplements can be detrimental if taken in excess of the recommended level. It is highly advisable for a pregnant woman to consult a health professional or dietitian prior to taking pregnancy supplements.