As you age, your body goes through physical and physiological changes, and your nutrient requirements often increase. Pregnancy also increases a woman’s need for more nutrients to help with the development of her baby, so it’s natural that pregnant women over the age of 40 have special nutrient requirements. Speak to your physician before taking any supplements.
Prenatal vitamins are important for pregnant women of all ages because they provide essential vitamins and minerals for both the mom and the unborn baby. For women over 40, they become increasingly important because mom has increased nutrient requirements of her own. Prenatal vitamins typically include folic acid, iron, calcium and other vitamins and minerals needed for general improved health of both mother and child. Not all prenatal vitamins have the same formulations so speak to your medical practitioner about the vitamins you're taking and follow dosing directions included on the bottle.
Folic acid is crucial for pregnant women as well as for women who are trying to conceive. This nutrient can prevent spina bifida and neural tube defects in babies in the womb. In the U.S. alone, 2,500 babies are born each year with neural-tube defects. Of those, it is believed 75 percent could have been prevented with folic acid supplements. The U.S. Public Health Service recommends that all pregnant women as well as those who are trying to get pregnant get 400 mcg of folic acid per day.
After the age of 40, bone loss occurs at a rate of 0.5 to 1 percent per year. Calcium is also important for pregnant women because the baby's skeleton is actually built from the mother's calcium. If the mother does not have enough calcium to replace the amount lost to her baby, she may become at risk of osteoporosis. The National Institutes of Health recommends 1,000 mg of calcium per day for both women over 40 as well as pregnant and lactating women.
Vitamin D supplements should be taken in addition to calcium supplements. It helps the body absorb and use calcium more efficiently and is also needed for the mother’s bone health as well as the development of the fetus’ skeleton and teeth. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that is hard to get from diet alone. The National Institutes of Health recommends supplementing with 600 IU of Vitamin D per day for women over the age of 19 as well as pregnant women of all ages.