Vitamin C is an essential vitamin that most of us are aware of because of its popularity and prevalence in fruits and vegetables. But what should you know about taking vitamin C while pregnant? What are safe levels of this nutrient and what should you know about supplementing with 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 on the body. Since vitamin C is an antioxidant, it may help reverse this effect. One review also 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 important to maintain the recommended daily allowances of vitamin C and other nutrients for optimal health. One study found an increase in birth weight in women who were supplementing with vitamin C, while another study found no evidence of vitamin C preventing preterm birth.
Vitamin C is a strong antioxidant. This means that it helps to counteract the effects of oxidative stress, protecting the body against free radicals. It can also help with non-heme iron absorption, which may be important for pregnant people who struggle with their iron levels and hemoglobin levels. Vitamin C is also known for its ability to provide immune support.
For example, one study found that boosting vitamin C levels (through the consumption of kiwifruit) was shown to help boost neutrophils which are a part of the innate immune system which provides barriers and defense against foreign attacks and intruders. Since immune function naturally lessens during pregnancy, it’s important to take steps to counteract this side effect. Vitamin C may also help stimulate collagen production.
To begin any discussion about vitamin C consumption, it’s first important to examine the dietary options available for obtaining vitamin C through the foods we eat. 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 embryo. Foods that are rich in vitamin C include:
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.
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 regular intake under 2000mg can help prevent any potential kidney issues associated with large doses of vitamin C.
Indigestion can be a common complaint during pregnancy. Since vitamin C is acidic (it’s essentially ascorbic acid), look for a supplement that is buffered with ingredients that help make the vitamin less acidic. This will help prevent stomach discomfort and acid reflux.
Care/of’s vitamin C is vegetarian and vegan and is derived from acerola cherries. Food-based supplements like this are easier to digest. One capsule contains a generous 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.
Many prenatal vitamins contain vitamin C. Care/of’s prenatal vitamin, for instance, contains 22 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.
Vitamin C can help support your body while you are pregnant. It’s an important vitamin for maintaining a healthy immune system, fighting off free radicals and supporting collagen production. Research does not, however, support vitamin C 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, raw fruits and vegetables. The more colorful fruits and vegetables you can include in your diet, the better for maintaining healthy vitamin C levels.
Supplementing with vitamin C can be helpful. It’s a good idea to look for a vitamin C supplement that is made from food ingredients, such as Care/of’s Citrus Savior, which is made from acerola cherries. Prenatal vitamins often include vitamin C and it’s important to check the quantities to learn if you need additional supplementation.