Can I Take Vitamin C While Pregnant? A Simple Guide to Ensure Well-Being

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    Vitamin C plays a role in many of the body’s systems. But is it safe to consume while pregnant? Here’s what you need to know about vitamin C and pregnancy.

    Should a woman take vitamin C while pregnant?

    Vitamin C is a relatively safe water-soluble vitamin that is commonly taken during pregnancy. Because pregnancy can put extra stress on the body, it’s important to consume nutrients that support your body’s functions. For instance, pregnancy may increase the levels of oxidative stress in the body. Since vitamin C is an antioxidant, it may help support healthy oxidative responses. There’s also research that links Vitamin C to the immune system.

    Vitamin C should be put in the context of overall wellness for both the pregnant person and the baby. More research is needed, but so far no evidence has been found to show, for instance, that vitamin C prevents blood pressure issues developed during pregnancy or preeclampsia. Instead, it’s been found to be an important component of immune health, collagen production, and mood support for the pregnant person’s well-being.

    Before incorporating any supplements into your routine, it's important to consult with your doctor for personalized advice and guidance.

    Benefits of Vitamin C during pregnancy

    Obtaining adequate amounts of vitamin C during pregnancy is essential. Here’s what we know about the benefits it can provide for both the mother and the developing fetus.

    Acts as a Strong Antioxidant

    Vitamin C is a strong antioxidant. This means that it helps to counteract the effects of oxidative stress

    Supporting against free radicals

    Vitamin C helps protect the body from free radicals. Free radicals are dangerous for our health, as they can cause damage to cells, proteins, and DNA. Vitamin C can also help regenerate other important antioxidants in the body, like vitamin E.

    Assists with Non-Heme Iron Absorption

    It helps with non-heme iron absorption when consumed at the same time, which may be important for pregnant people who struggle with their iron and hemoglobin levels.

    Provides Immune Support

    Vitamin C is also known for its ability to provide immune support. Vitamin C supports healthy immune cells that help protect the body against foreign pathogens and intruders. Since immune function naturally declines during pregnancy, it’s important to take steps to support your immune system.

    Stimulates Collagen Production

    Vitamin C is a necessary component for collagen production in all humans, not just during pregnancy, but the importance during this time does not lessen.

    Promote healing and encourage tissue renewal

    Insufficient vitamin C may impact collagen formation affecting wound healing and overall well-being.

    Healthy Mood and Stress Response support

    Studies have found that vitamin C may help promote a healthy mood and stress levels in pregnant women. Vitamin C helps to regulate the synthesis of certain neurotransmitters, like serotonin, which plays a role in mood and happiness.

    Support for Skin Health

    During pregnancy, the body goes through many changes, including the physical expansion of the abdomen and other areas of the body. Collagen synthesis, with the help of vitamin C, ensures that the skin maintains its integrity and elasticity during this period.

    Aids in the Absorption of Other Nutrients

    Aside from helping to enhance the absorption of iron, vitamin C can also aid in the absorption of other nutrients, like calcium. Cell research shows that vitamin C is also supportive of one-carbon metabolism, which relies on healthy folate absorption and utilization in the body.

    Support for Dental Health

    Hormonal changes during pregnancy can put you at an increased risk for developing gum issues. Vitamin C plays a critical role in maintaining healthy gums.

    Vitamin C benefits for babies in utero

    • Provides Immune Support: Vitamin C plays an important role in supporting the immune health of babies in utero.
    • Supports Healthy Epigenetic Development: Vitamin C acts as a cofactor for epigenetic enzymes that are actively engaged during embryonic development. These enzymes help to regulate cellular differentiation and development, supporting healthy fetal growth.
    • Healthy Oxidative Responses: Vitamin C supports healthy oxidative responses in tissues during fetal development.
    • Respiratory Development: Vitamin C can supports healthy fetal respiratory development, as well as lung health and function, particularly for the offspring of pregnant people with a history of tobacco use.

    Overall, maintaining a balanced and healthy diet during pregnancy is not only crucial for the well-being of the mother but also for the fetus. Pregnant individuals are encouraged to consume a diet that is rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and pregnancy-safe fish, while minimizing the intake of sugar and excess dietary fat.

    How much vitamin C should a pregnant woman take daily?

    A balanced diet is essential for health and wellness. During pregnancy, this is even more true. A well-balanced diet supports both the pregnant person’s body and the growing fetus. Foods that are rich in vitamin C include:

    • Raw Red and Green Peppers
    • Oranges and Orange Juice
    • Grapefruit and Grapefruit juice
    • Kiwifruit
    • Broccoli
    • Strawberries
    • Brussels sprouts

    When choosing vitamin C-rich foods to eat, it’s best to consume raw fruits and vegetables over cooked ones, since cooking can decrease levels of the vitamin. Eating a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can provide the micronutrients that support your health and the health of your baby. A balanced diet filled with whole foods, rather than highly processed foods, provides the micronutrients such as folic acid, zinc, and iron that help support a healthy pregnancy. If it is a challenge to eat a wide variety of fresh foods, supplementing with vitamin C is another option.

    Can too much vitamin C be harmful during pregnancy?

    Supplementing with vitamin C is quite common and it’s rather difficult to accidentally take levels that would be harmful. The recommended dietary allowance of vitamin C to take while pregnant is 85 mg. If you choose to breastfeed, it’s best to increase that amount up to 120 mg. Doses above these recommendations can potentially cause digestive issues. Keeping a regular intake under 2000 mg can help avoid any potential kidney issues associated with large doses of vitamin C.

    Indigestion can be a common complaint during pregnancy. Since vitamin C is acidic, you can support digestive comfort by taking a supplement that is buffered. This lessens the acidic nature of the vitamin and will help prevent stomach discomfort and acid reflux.

    Care/of’s vitamin C supplement is vegan and is derived from acerola cherries. Food-based supplements like this are easier to digest. One capsule contains 250 mg of vitamin C, which helps ensure an adequate amount is absorbed. Thanks to its gentle food-based formulation, it can be taken on an empty stomach.

    Prenatal vitamins with Vitamin C

    Many prenatal vitamins contain vitamin C. Care/of’s prenatal vitamin contains 23 essential nutrients, including vitamin C. Ideally a prenatal is a supplement to a nutrient-dense diet that includes fresh fruits and vegetables. While many prenatal vitamins contain vitamin C, it’s important to look at the daily values to see how much of each nutrient you are getting. You may need to supplement beyond a prenatal vitamin to achieve your recommended daily amounts for each nutrient, especially if you are not getting enough from your diet.

    The Bottom Line

    Vitamin C can help support your body while you are pregnant. It’s an important vitamin for maintaining a healthy immune system, supporting the body against oxidative stress, and collagen production. Research does not support vitamin C for preventing potential pregnancy-related issues like preeclampsia and preterm labor.

    To achieve the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C, it’s helpful to eat a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. The more colorful fruits and vegetables you can include in your diet, the more likely you are to obtain the amount of vitamin C you need.

    Supplementing with vitamin C can be helpful for bridging any nutrient gaps in the diet. It’s a good idea to look for a vitamin C supplement that is made from food ingredients, such as Care/of’s vitamin C supplement, which is made from acerola cherries and other sources like calcium ascorbate. Prenatal vitamins often include vitamin C and it’s important to check the quantities to learn if you need additional supplementation.

    As a reminder, prior to starting any supplement regimen, it is advisable to consult with your physician for personalized guidance and ensure it aligns with your individual health needs.

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    Mia McNew, MS
    Medical Content Reviewer
    Mia McNew is a nutrition science researcher with bachelor's and master's degrees in nutrition science and biochemistry. She holds additional certifications in clinical nutrition and formerly managed a private nutrition practice focusing on fertility and the management of chronic health and autoimmune disorders. She is currently pursuing a PhD in human nutrition with a research focus on disability, underserved populations, and inequities in popular nutrition therapy approaches. She has extensive experience as a fact-checker, researcher, and critical research analyst and is passionate about science and health communications that provide practical support.
    Jordana Tobelem, RD
    Freelance Contributor
    Jordana Tobelem is a Registered Dietitian who enjoys helping others become the best versions of themselves through proper nutrition education. Jordana is passionate about promoting lifestyle changes through nutrition, physical activity, and behavior to create a superior quality of life. She uses her experience in the clinical field of dietetics to provide consulting services to an array of healthcare brands and companies. Jordana loves finding the most current research in nutrition to create meaningful content to share with her clients. Jordana has been a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics since 2018 and also holds certifications in both Personal Training and Health Coaching.