Pregnancy App Article: "Which vitamin supplements to take"

Supplements to take during pregnancy
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Vitamin, vegetable or mineral?
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Your body (and your baby's) needs extra doses of some vitamins and minerals during pregnancy, but - between the dreaded morning sickness, odd cravings and, depending on which stage you're at, a general feeling of knackeredness - it can be a challenge to whip up a perfectly balanced meal at the end of a long day.

Luckily, vitamins and supplements can help you cram everything you need in there.

What supplements should you be taking?

Folic acid
This is perhaps the most important supplement to take during the early stages of pregnancy as it helps the body create new cells. It can reduce the chances of your baby developing a neural tube defect like spina bifida or anecephaly, which affect the spine and brain.

If you've not been taking folic acid already to help with conception, it's time to start now. 400 micrograms a day is recommended throughout the first trimester.

Foods that are naturally rich in folic acid include spinach, beans, broccoli, potatoes and peas, as well as some bread and many fortified breakfast cereals. It's worth upping your intake of these - though best not overdose on 20 bowls of Coco Pops a day - and it's recommended that you take the daily supplement as well.

You'll need a higher dose of folic acid (4-5mg daily) if you're in a higher-risk group for neural tube defects. This includes women with:
  • a history of neural tube defects in their family (this applies to both the mother's and father's sides of the family)
  • insulin-dependent diabetes
  • a previous pregnancy where neural tube defects were identified in their baby
  • coeliac disease
  • a body mass index higher than 30
If you're taking anti-epilepsy medication, have a word with your GP about the dose of folic acid that's right for you. 
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Do you reckon there's folic acid in Cadbury Dairy Milk?
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Vitamin D
This helps to maintain calcium levels and will help your baby develop a cracking set of strong teeth, and sturdy bones. It can be difficult to get enough through diet alone - you can get some vitamin D from exposure to sunlight but, as we all know, that's not always readily available in the UK climate.

A deficiency in vitamin D can result in rickets - sounds Dickensian, we know, but it's recently been on the increase. A 10mcg supplement daily is an appropriate amount.

And what about iron?
Some people become more at risk of iron deficiency during pregnancy - including vegetarians and those pregnant with multiples.  

Unless you have anaemia you shouldn't need to take additional iron supplements - your doctor or midwife will advise on this - but eating a variety of green leafy veg, lean red meat, tofu, dried fruit and nuts will help keep your iron levels topped up. Try washing them down with a glass or orange juice - the vitamin C in this will boost iron absorption.
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