Vitamin and mineral needs change when trying to conceive
When preparing to become pregnant, a woman’s need for vitamins and minerals changes. She should increase some that are necessary for healthy development of the baby, and watch out for others that can be harmful in large amounts.
“This is also an important time for a prospective mother to watch what she eats,” says Dr. Victor Beshay, a fertility specialist at UT Southwestern Medical Center. “Prenatal vitamins provide an appropriate balance of vitamins, but should not be a substitute for a healthy diet.”
Ideally, a woman should start any new vitamin regimen two or three months before conception, Dr. Beshay says.
Vitamin and mineral choices include:
- Folate (folic acid) – At least 400 micrograms (0.4 mg) a day. This vitamin assists with appropriate nerve and spine development of the fetus;
- Iron – 27 mg per day, to help maintain the body’s iron stores;
- Vitamin C – 80-85 mg per day; and
- Vitamin A – Should be listed on the label as beta-carotene, not as retinol. It is generally not necessary to supplement Vitamin A in pregnancy.
Prenatal vitamins should be handled and stored with special care, Dr. Beshay says. Keep vitamins and mineral supplements out of reach of children, because their high iron levels can be dangerous or even fatal to the young.
Visit http://www.utsouthwestern.org/obgyn to learn more about clinical services in gynecology and obstetrics at UT Southwestern.