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Is Vitamin Overload During Pregnancy Really a Thing?

Turns out, you really can have too much of a good thing, and nutrient overload during pregnancy is a prime example. You'd be surprised by how many added vitamins and minerals you can find in everything from your favorite hydration packs to your protein and collagen powders. But this is a time for major mindfulness—before, during, and after pregnancy, nutrition is key. Diets lacking in key nutrients are linked to serious issues, up to and including miscarriage, birth defects and preterm birth. The key is balance. Here’s why excess nutrients are problematic during pregnancy, and what you can do to ensure the right balance of key vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to support you and your growing baby.

Key Takeaways

  • Nutrient overload can occur when you're getting an excess of vitamins and minerals.  During pregnancy, excessive nutrients can be problematic and even downright dangerous.
  • Developing babies need a precise balance of key nutrients to ensure their health, which is why experts recommend prenatal vitamins.
  • Simply adding a prenatal vitamin to any supplements you're currently taking, such as greens or protein powders, multivitamins, even hydration packs, can mean you and your baby are getting too much of certain nutrients.
  • To ensure an appropriate balance of nutrients during pregnancy, be mindful of curating your supplements. The safest approach is a nutritious diet and a high-quality prenatal vitamin.
  • If you choose to add collagen protein to your diet for its benefits during pregnancy, look for a clean formula that's made without  for transparency from manufacturers to ensure that you're getting 
  • Speak to your doctor about additional supplementation as needed.

Understanding Prenatal Nutrition

beli-nutrient-overload-during-pregnancy

During pregnancy, your needs for specific nutrients increase. After all, it’s hard work building an entire little person! Your body relies on a steady supply of things like protein, folate, choline, iodine, iron, vitamin D, and other essentials to ensure both a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. Without these nutrients, among others, risks of complications increase. And we’re talking serious complications, from anemia and preeclampsia to stillbirth, low birth weight, and developmental delays (1). 

The fact is, eating well is one of the most important things you can do during a pregnancy. That’s the best way of ensuring you and baby are getting the nutrients you both need to thrive and maintain a healthy weight. Here’s the thing—even the most nutritionally-minded among us will likely come up short somewhere. Our need for key nutrients, like choline, folate, vitamin D, magnesium, and zinc, increase pretty significantly during pregnancy, and it can be difficult to ensure you’re getting exactly what you need. That’s where prenatal vitamins come in. They’re specifically designed to supplement what you’re eating and cover any nutritional gaps. It’s an important distinction—prenatal vitamins are truly supplements intended to bridge the gap in a generally healthy diet that might be coming up short on one nutrient or another.

While there is no universal standard for the nutrients or the amounts that are needed during pregnancy, various authoritative bodies have their recommendations. We deferred to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and American American Medical Association (AMA) in the formulation of our prenatal vitamins. That’s why Beli for Women is one of just a few prenatal vitamins currently on the market that meets recommendations for choline, folate, iodine, magnesium and vitamin D specifically. A daily serving of Beli paired with a healthy diet is the simplest way to ensure you and your growing baby are getting the right nutrients in the right amounts, without going overboard.

Potential Risks of Excess Nutrients: Too Much of a Good Thing

In our modern world of supplementing, whether it’s your favorite collagen, a greens powder, an elderberry elixir, or something that promises to support hair growth, nutrient overdosing is a very real concern. And during pregnancy, when the substances you ingest directly impact your baby, it’s an even bigger issue. This is the time to be hyper aware of what you’re putting into your body, and generally, a less-is-more approach is the best option. Your diet should be your primary source of all the vitamins and minerals you need, and a high-quality prenatal vitamin will shore up any nutritional gaps. But your prenatal shouldn’t be something you add to your pre-pregnancy supplements—it’s not a plus one! Almost always, your prenatal vitamin is going to replace your current multivitamin and even your go-to collagen or greens powder, both of which tend to have more ingredients than you might guess. By adding a prenatal vitamin to the mix instead of using it as a replacement, you could be overdoing things—and the consequences can be dire.

Case in point: Too much vitamin A during pregnancy means an increased risk of birth defects (2). Too much iron has been linked to a higher likelihood of gestational diabetes (3) and preeclampsia (4). It also contributes to excessive nausea and vomiting, and high amounts of iron can also inhibit zinc absorption (something that doesn’t occur with a lower iron to zinc ratio). Your favorite greens powder, meanwhile, may include ingredients best avoided during pregnancy. These supplements often include adaptogenic herbs that simply haven’t been studied closely enough in pregnancy to assure their safety. Even your favorite collagen can be loaded with extra vitamins and minerals that aren’t doing you any favors during pregnancy, and it’s simply because you’re getting more than you need. Research is clear that excess micronutrients during pregnancy can bring, as one researcher put it, “irreversible consequences to the newborn and child,” including but not limited to a decreased antioxidant defense, compromised immune system, impacted neurodevelopment, and the list goes on.

The big takeaway here is that supplements pose the greatest risk for excess nutrient consumption (5), and it typically happens when you mix and match things. A balanced nutrient profile is, of course, the goal, and the best way to achieve it is with a healthy diet and a high-quality prenatal vitamin that meets current recommendations. That’s really it. Cutting out the stuff you don’t need ensures you aren’t accidentally getting too much of something, or messing with how nutrients work together—or compete—in your body. Remember, anything that adversely affects you has the potential to harm your baby, and nobody wants that. 

Making Informed Choices

Step one is simply recognizing the possibility of nutrient overload. Step two is making mindful, informed choices. That means looking for prenatal vitamins that tick a few boxes:

  • Meet current recommendations for key vitamins and minerals in appropriate quantities
  • Use bioavailable forms of nutrients to ensure your body can actually use them properly
  • Use the purest forms of vitamins and minerals, without resorting to synthetic fillers (nothing GMO!)
  • Are manufactured in FDA-registered, GMP-certified facilities, indicating the highest standard of safety and consistency

Once you’ve found a prenatal vitamin you can trust, pare back any other form of supplementation unless it’s otherwise advised by your doctor. Get in the habit of reading product labels and familiarize yourself with specific nutrients. If anything seems questionable, look it up! 

Look for transparency from the manufacturer, too. At Beli, we recognized the extra ingredients common in many collagen powders—and the issue that poses, especially during pregnancy. Since there are specific benefits for mama and baby from collagen protein, we launched an ultra-clean, filler-free collagen that's ethically derived from grass-fed, pasture-raised, hormone-free bovine sources. Each scoop of our Prenatal Collagen Protein Booster includes 9 grams of hydrolyzed collagen protein, with no extra ingredients that can lead to nutrient overload. 

We also encourage you to turn to your doctor for personalized advice. Bring in your prenatal vitamin and voice any concerns you may have about your diet. The more you communicate with your doctor about how you’re feeling, the more equipped they are to ensure you and your baby are getting exactly what you need.

The bottom line is that a little extra conscientiousness about the nutrients making their way into your body is absolutely warranted during this stage of your life. A good prenatal vitamin, along with a healthy diet, is really worth its weight in gold when it comes to supporting you and your growing baby. And in the case of Beli, you can be sure that you’re getting everything you both need—and absolutely nothing you don’t.

Sources

  1. Farias, P et al. (2020). Minerals in Pregnancy and Their Impact on Child Growth and Development. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7730771/
  2. Maia S et al. (2019). Vitamin A and pregnancy: A narrative review. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6470929/
  3. Petry, C. (2022). Iron supplementation in pregnancy and risk of gestational diabetes: a narrative review. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9695730/
  4. Lewandowska, M et al. (2019). Can Serum Iron Concentrations in Early Healthy Pregnancy Be Risk Marker of Pregnancy-Induced Hypertension? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6566422/
  5. Gernand, A. (2019). The upper level: examining the risk of excess micronutrient intake in pregnancy from antenatal supplements. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6618111/

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