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The benefits of taking supplements during pregnancy

| AUG 5, 2016

Food first. When it comes to nourishing our bodies we all know that eating fresh, wholesome food is best. But we also know that including supplements in our modern diets can be just as important. Particularly at certain life stages - pregnancy is definitely one of them. Us mums generally know that taking some supplements during pregnancy is essential. Our midwives tell us that folic acid (or even better folate) can help prevent foetal neural tube defects like spina bifida. Our GPs recommend Vitamin D. It’s vital for mamma and growing baba, for healthy bones, teeth and muscles. You only have to scan the shelves of your local chemist or health food store to see the many supplements labelled essential for maternity. Vitamin C, calcium, probiotics, raspberry leaf, fenugreek and iron. It’s a minefield. So what exactly should we be taking?

Eat at least seven portions of fruit and veg a day. 

Eating a healthy, varied diet in pregnancy will help you to get most of the vitamins and minerals you need. If you’re eating at least seven portions of fruit and veg a day, including dark green leafy vegetables, you’re probably getting enough Vitamin C, calcium and iron. It’s a good idea to supplement with a premium probiotic too. Babies are born sterile. Their first contact with bacteria is through the vaginal canal. It kick-starts the development of their immune system for the rest of their lives. So ensuring you have a healthy balance is important. Trust us when we say, it’s a good idea to prep for birth and top up on beneficial bacteria. You’ll thank us when your baby reaches nursery and quickly fends off all those nasty bugs.


Folic acid and vitamin D are a must. We just don’t get enough sunshine in the UK to top up our vitamin D. It’s not just good for bones and teeth; it’s needed for a healthy mind, immune and reproductive system too. And the scientific evidence on the benefits of supplementing with folate, a more absorbable form of folic acid, is just too compelling to ignore.

But that’s not the only supplement with impressive scientific backing. Omega 3 DHA is probably one of the most researched yet overlooked essential nutrients for maternity. Nowadays, our diets just aren’t up to scratch. And our levels of Omega 3 have paid the price. It’s an essential fat that makes up our cell membranes, brains and eyes. It keeps us feeling happy, our hearts strong and our nervous systems sharp. It has remarkable anti-inflammatory benefits too. In short, our bodies need Omega 3 to stay healthy and to function properly. Unlike other fats such as Omega 7 and 9, we can’t produce it ourselves. We have to eat it. Small oily fish like sardines, mackerel and anchovies are your best sources.


But, this can be a problem for pregnant women. Assuming you’re not too sensitive to the taste and smell of oily fish during your pregnancy, eating the recommended two portions per week still might not be enough. Our demand for Omega 3 during pregnancy increases. That’s why it’s important to supplement with pure Omega 3 fish oil. It’s needed for the development of our babies’ brains, eyes and nervous systems. Let’s not forget mum. Supplementing with fish oil helps to preserve the DHA in our brains and protects us from postnatal depression and gestational diabetes. We really don’t have to suffer.

We weren’t surprised that one recent study found that most pregnant women are not getting enough Omega 3, despite their critical importance. It also showed that supplementing with Omega 3 supports them. The results were that 73% of mums-to-be and 75% of new mums were not meeting the current EU recommendations for Omega 3 intake during pregnancy and breastfeeding. But, they found that women who took a supplement containing DHA were 10.6 to 11.1 times more likely to meet the recommendation.

"The shocking result of this study is that Omega 3 deficiency was recorded across educated, pregnant and breastfeeding women in Europe with high incomes. So it’s a problem across all socio-economic groups. It tells us that there is a lot more to be done on the education of pregnant women about the importance of supplementing with Omega 3, while eating a healthy balanced diet. It’s one of the reasons we started our online magazine. We want to share well researched nutritional and lifestyle advice, recipes and tips so that mums-to-be can make the most of their experience into motherhood. Risks of postnatal depression, preterm births and infant neurological disorders can be avoided. It helps to take pure and effective fish oil.” 

The results of this study are not a one off. The benefits have been proven by thousands of other medical trials. They chart positive effects of Omega 3 for depression, pre-term births, allergies and children’s learning and behaviour, to name a few. We think it’s high time more health professionals recommend Omega 3 supplements alongside the more popular folic acid and Vitamin D.*

* Always seek advice from your medical practitioner before introducing any supplement into your diet. It’s important to make sure that what you take is compatible with any other medication or existing medical conditions.

Source: Jia et al (2015) Women who take n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid supplements during pregnancy and lactation meet the recommended intake. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab, 40: 474-81.

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