Requirements for many nutrients increase during pregnancy. If you are
pregnant, be sure to follow your physician's recommendations for taking prenatal
supplements. These ensure that your body is receiving the basic nutritional
requirements of pregnancy and may ease some of the symptoms of pregnancy as
well. In addition to prenatal supplements, you may want to consider taking the
following nutrients and herbs. Studies have shown that adding certain nutrients
to your diet when you are pregnant can reduce pregnancy symptoms like nausea and
high blood pressure. There are also herbs that have shown promise in easing
pregnancy-related varicose veins, digestive problems, and morning sickness.
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) may reduce severe nausea and
vomiting associated with pregnancy. It's important to reduce higher doses of
vitamin B6 before delivery, as it may suppress lactation. Dosage: 25
milligrams three times a day.
Calcium has been shown to reduce the incidence of high blood pressure
in pregnant women with low calcium intake or in those at high risk of
pregnancy-related high blood pressure. Calcium can also be effective for
reducing leg cramps. In addition, calcium supplementation during pregnancy has
been shown to lower blood pressure in offspring. Dosage: 1.0 to 1.5 grams per
Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) contains antioxidants that can
improve circulation by rebuilding and strengthening capillaries. This may reduce
the likelihood of varicose veins. Dosage: 160 to 480 milligrams per day (divided
into 2 to 3 doses). Look for bilberry capsules or tablets that have been
standardized to contain 25 percent anthocyanosides.
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) leaves contain compounds that
are believed to have laxative and mild diuretic effects. Dandelion leaf may also
help with digestive problems. Dosage: Take as a tea, using 4 to 10 grams of
dried leaves added to 1 cup of boiling water. Steep covered 5 to 10 minutes.
Drink 2 to 3 cups per day.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is becoming increasingly accepted
for treating nausea during pregnancy. In one study, treatment with 250 mg four
times a day of powdered ginger reduced the symptoms of severe morning sickness
in pregnant women. Short-term use of ginger during pregnancy appears to be safe,
although as a precautionary measure, dosages should not exceed 1 g per day.
Dosage: 250 milligrams four times a day. Look for ginger capsules or
Be sure to talk with your physician or pharmacist to best determine which
herbal or nutritional supplements are for you. Some supplements should not be
taken if you have certain medical conditions or are taking particular
Note: The following herbs and dietary supplements should be avoided during
Barberry (Berberis vulgaris)
Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis)
Jupiter (Juniperus communis)
Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
Pokeweed root (Phytolaca americana)
Rue (Ruta graveolens)
Sage (Salvia officinalis)
Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)
Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)
Cascara sangrada (Rhamnus purshiana)
Senna (Cassia senna)
Vitamin A doses that exceed 6,000
Access: Professional Reference to Conditions, Herbs & Supplements.
Newton, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications; 2000.
Belizan JM, Villar J, Bergel E, et al. Long-term effect of calcium
supplementation during pregnancy on the blood pressure of offspring: follow up
of a randomised controlled trial. BMJ. 1997;315(7103):281-285.
Fischer-Rasmussen W, Kjaer SK, Dahl C, Asping U. Ginger treatment of
hyperemesis gravidarum. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 1991;38(1):19-24.
Fulder S. Ginger as an anti-nausea remedy in pregnancy: the issue of safety.
Grismondi GL. Treatment of phlebopathies caused by stasis in pregnancy. [In
Italian] Minerva Ginecol. 1981;33(2-3):221-230.
Hammar M, Larsson L, Tegler L. Calcium treatment of leg cramps in pregnancy.
Effect on clinical symptoms and total serum and ionized serum calcium
concentrations. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 1981;60(4):345-347.
Kulier R, de Onis M, Gulmezoglu AM, Villar J. Nutritional interventions for
the prevention of maternal morbidity. Int J Gynaecol Obstet.
Sahakian V, Rouse D, Sipes S, Rose N, Niebyl J. Vitamin B6 is
effective therapy for nausea and vomiting of pregnancy: a randomized,
double-blind placebo-controlled study. Obstet Gynecol. 1991;78(1):33-36.
Marcus RG. Suppression of lactation with high doses of pyridoxine. S Afr Med
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