9 Best Supplements for Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a crucial time for proper nutrition and more than just a time to follow a well-balanced diet. Supplements play an indispensable role in filling nutritional voids, ensuring both the mother’s and the developing baby’s health. While supplements should only be taken in supplementation to a diet, most women find themselves needing them to achieve proper levels.

This comprehensive guide covers nine essential supplements, each integral to different facets of prenatal health. From foundational prenatal vitamins to specialized nutrients like choline and iron, this guide offers an in-depth look at the benefits, usage, and critical considerations of these supplements, empowering expectant mothers with the knowledge to optimize their prenatal care.

1. Prenatal Vitamins

Prenatal vitamins are meticulously formulated to support pregnancy’s heightened nutritional requirements. They typically feature a spectrum of vital nutrients like folic acid, crucial for preventing neural tube defects occurring in 1 out of every 1,000 pregnancies, and iron, essential for supporting the 50% increase in blood volume during pregnancy.

Despite their benefits, about 30% of women experience gastrointestinal discomfort from iron components, which can be mitigated by choosing formulas with ferrous bisglycinate, a gentler form of iron. Top brands include ‘Ritual Essential Prenatal’, ‘Thorne’, and ‘Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw Prenatal’, each offering unique advantages like allergen-free formulations or organic ingredients.

Prices range from $30 to $60 per month, reflecting differences in ingredient quality and formulation sophistication. When selecting the best prenatal vitamin, it’s important to consider individual nutritional needs, such as increased demand for DHA in the third trimester for fetal brain development.

2. Magnesium

Magnesium, a mineral pivotal for over 300 enzymatic reactions, becomes particularly important in pregnancy, aiding in muscle relaxation and blood pressure regulation. Up to 60% of pregnant women do not meet the daily magnesium requirement, which can increase the risk of chronic hypertension. Supplements like ‘Nature’s Bounty Magnesium’ and ‘Thorne Magnesium’ offer bioavailable forms of magnesium, such as magnesium citrate, at an average cost of $15-$25.

Side effects, primarily at high doses, include diarrhea, emphasizing the importance of adhering to recommended dosages of around 350 mg per day. Women with pre-existing conditions like kidney disorders should exercise caution in magnesium supplementation, highlighting the need for personalized healthcare advice.

3. Vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiency, affecting up to 40% of pregnant women, is linked to increased risks of pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, and low birth weight. Supplementation is critical, given the limited dietary sources of vitamin D and varying sun exposure. Daily intake recommendations range from 600 IU to 2000 IU, with products like ‘Nordic Naturals Vitamin D3’ and ‘Thorne Vitamin D3’ being popular for their purity and potency, costing around $12-$30.

Excessive intake, however, can lead to hypercalcemia, necessitating judicious use under medical guidance. Opting for vitamin D3, the more potent form, and pairing it with dietary sources like fatty fish and fortified foods can optimize maternal and fetal vitamin D status.

4. Probiotics

Probiotics, comprising beneficial bacteria, play a significant role in maternal gut health, potentially impacting pregnancy outcomes and fetal health. A balanced microbiome, supported by probiotics, is linked to reduced risks of gestational diabetes, affecting about 7% of pregnancies.

Popular probiotic supplements like ‘Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Probiotics’ and ‘Seed Probiotic’ provide diverse bacterial strains at costs averaging $25-$50. They are generally well-tolerated, with minimal side effects like mild bloating.

Pregnant women should focus on supplements with strains like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, proven safe and effective during pregnancy. The daily recommended dosage varies, but a minimum of 1 billion CFUs is suggested for tangible benefits.

5. Ginger

Ginger, renowned for its antiemetic properties, is particularly beneficial during pregnancy, addressing morning sickness which affects up to 85% of pregnant women. Supplements like ‘Nature’s Bounty Ginger Root’ and ‘Gaia Herbs Ginger’ provide concentrated doses of ginger, with prices around $15-$30. The recommended dosage is up to 1g per day, divided into multiple doses. While generally safe, excessive intake can lead to heartburn or low blood pressure. Ginger supplements should be free from additives and sourced from reputable brands to ensure purity and efficacy.

6. Iron

Iron supplementation is crucial during pregnancy due to the increased risk of iron-deficiency anemia, affecting approximately 20% of pregnant women worldwide. Adequate iron intake, typically around 27mg per day, supports fetal growth and maternal health. Brands like ‘Thorne’ and ‘Nature Made Iron’ offer well-absorbed forms of iron, costing around $10-$20. Side effects can include gastrointestinal discomfort, which may be alleviated by taking supplements with food. It’s important to monitor iron levels to prevent over-supplementation, which can lead to complications such as constipation or hemochromatosis.

7. Folate

Folate, a critical B-vitamin, is essential for preventing neural tube defects, affecting about 1 in every 1,000 pregnancies. The recommended dosage is 400-800 mcg daily, starting before conception and continuing through the first trimester. Supplements like ‘Thorne Folate’ and ‘Nature’s Bounty Folic Acid’ are priced around $15-$30. Synthetic folic acid and natural folate sources should be considered, especially for women with MTHFR gene variations, as this can affect folate metabolism. Side effects are rare, but high doses can mask vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms.

8. Fish Oil

Fish oil supplements, rich in omega-3 fatty acids like DHA and EPA, are vital for fetal brain development and may reduce the risk of preterm birth, occurring in about 10% of pregnancies. Brands such as ‘Nordic Naturals Prenatal DHA’ and ‘Thorne Fish Oil’ offer mercury-free, high-quality options, costing about $25-$50.

Daily intake of around 200-300 mg of DHA is recommended. While side effects are minimal, fishy aftertaste and mild gastrointestinal symptoms can occur, even for the best fish oil supplements. Ensuring third-party testing for purity is crucial for safe consumption during pregnancy.

9. Choline

Choline is critical for fetal brain development and placental function, yet it’s often overlooked, with up to 95% of pregnant women not meeting the adequate intake of 450-550 mg per day. Supplements like ‘Thorne Cholesterol Bundle’ and ‘Solgar Choline’ provide necessary doses, generally costing $20-$40.

Using choline supplementation can help mitigate the risk of neural tube defects and support fetal brain development. Side effects are rare but can include a fishy body odor at high doses. Pregnant women should ensure choline intake through both diet and supplementation for optimal fetal development.

How to Choose the Best Supplement for Pregnancy?

Choosing the right supplements during pregnancy involves careful consideration of nutritional needs, safety profiles, and quality assurance. Opt for supplements that specifically address pregnancy-related needs, such as increased iron, folic acid, and DHA. Checking for certifications and third-party testing can assure purity and potency. Consultation with a healthcare provider is crucial to tailor the supplementation plan according to individual health profiles and dietary habits, ensuring both mother and baby receive the best nutritional support.

What are the Most Nutrient-Dense Supplements for Pregnancy?

Nutrient-dense supplements for pregnancy include those that provide a concentrated source of essential nutrients in bioavailable forms. Prenatal vitamins, rich in folic acid, iron, and calcium, are indispensable. DHA supplements support fetal brain development, while choline plays a key role in neural development. The correct dosage is vital: for instance, 600 mcg of folic acid and at least 200 mg of DHA daily are generally recommended. Consideration of absorption rates and potential interactions with other supplements or medications is also important for maximizing benefits.

Do Pregnancy Supplements Help With Breastfeeding Production?

Yes, pregnancy supplements can help with breatsfeeing. These supplements have various effects on the body, but their impact on breastfeeding and milk production can vary significantly depending on the type of supplement and the individual’s physiology. For example, prenatal vitamins are generally continued postpartum and can help ensure that both the mother and the baby receive essential nutrients which aids in breastfeeding.

Why Should Pregnant Women Take Supplements?

Supplements are critical during pregnancy due to the increased nutritional demands that are often challenging to meet through diet alone. They ensure adequate intake of key nutrients like folic acid, iron, and DHA, which are crucial for preventing birth defects and supporting fetal growth and development. For instance, adequate iron intake reduces the risk of anemia, prevalent in about 20% of pregnant women, while sufficient DHA intake supports optimal neural development of the fetus.

Why Should Pregnant Women Take Supplements
Why Should Pregnant Women Take Supplements?

When is the Best Time to Take Pregnancy Supplements?

The timing of supplement intake can significantly affect their efficacy. Prenatal vitamins are often best taken with meals to enhance absorption and reduce gastrointestinal discomfort. Iron supplements may be more effective when taken separately from calcium-rich foods or supplements, as calcium can inhibit iron absorption. Timing can also be crucial for probiotics and magnesium supplements, which might be taken at different times of the day to optimize benefits and reduce potential interactions with other supplements.

What is the Average Supplement Intake During Pregnancy?

The average supplement intake during pregnancy typically includes a prenatal vitamin once daily, which might be complemented with specific nutrients like iron or DHA, depending on dietary intake and individual health assessments. The regimen aims to strike a balance between providing essential nutrients for fetal development while preventing excessive intake that could lead to complications. Regular consultations with healthcare providers can help in adjusting the supplement regimen as the pregnancy progresses and needs evolve.

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Athletic Insight Research


The Athletic Insight Research team consists of a dedicated team of researchers, Doctors, Registered Dieticians, nationally certified nutritionists and personal trainers. Our team members hold prestigious accolades within their discipline(s) of expertise, as well as nationally recognized certifications. These include; National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer (NASM-CPT), American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA-CPT), National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Nutrition Coach (NASM-CNC), International Sports Sciences Association Nutritionist Certification.