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Vitamin C and Pregnancy – Should Every Expectant Mother Take Vitamin C During Pregnancy?

The world’s best-known vitamin has special value for expectant mothers. Vitamin C during pregnancy is especially important for women who experience spotting or light bleeding during pregnancy.

Vitamin C During Pregnancy to Prevent Spotting

Spotting is the leaking of small amounts of blood through the placenta during pregnancy. Usually, the volume of blood lost during spotting is less than the volume of blood lost during menstruation, just enough to be noticeable on the underwear or other garments. Loss of a large amount of blood through the vagina during pregnancy, of course, is a medical emergency for both mother and unborn child.

Many nutritionally knowledgeable obstetricians recommend that all pregnant women take up to 500 mg of vitamin C a day. Vitamin C interacts with “vitamin P” from fruits and vegetables to help stop the breakdown of connective collagen in the uterus; if you are going to take vitamin C, it’s better to take a natural vitamin C such as vitamin C from rose hips or vitamin C from acerola.

Taking more than 500 mg a day, however, can cause the immune system to be overactive and interfere with blood tests to detect gestational diabetes. When women take large doses of vitamin C, the testing reagents used to measure blood sugar levels register too low; that is, they will miss gestational diabetes. Taking 500 mg a day, however, does not interfere with this test.

Vitamin C During Pregnancy to Prevent Preeclampsia

Preeclampsia is a potentially deadly condition of high blood pressure that occurs only to women and only during pregnancy. Mineral and antioxidant imbalances lead to inflammation of the blood vessels supplying the placenta and the sudden development of blood pressure that is so high that it endangers the kidneys.

About one in sixteen women develops preeclampsia during pregnancy. If it is not treated, it is fatal about 16% of the time. Almost every case of preeclampsia, however, can be treated with supplemental vitamin C, plus magnesium, calcium, copper, zinc, and vitamin D to help the body absorb the minerals.

Vitamin C is especially important for women who have these risk factors for preeclampsia:

  • Strenuous exercise or heavy work (such as doing farm work) during pregnancy,
  • Inability to eat a balanced diet during pregnancy due to morning sickness or inadequate funds to buy food.

Vitamin C, fortunately, is very inexpensive, and in the United States, pregnant women can get fruit juice during pregnancy at a greatly reduced cost. A vitamin C supplement, however, delivers a more reliable dosage of C during pregnancy.

Don’t Use Vitamin C During Pregnancy As Your Only Supplement

While vitamin C, used with other important nutrients such as vitamin D, vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, copper, and zinc, helps women carry healthy babies to term, there are some indications that using vitamin C as the only nutritional supplement does not do any good, especially for women who take 1,000 mg a day or more.

The most common reason babies have to be delivered prematurely is that the placenta ruptures near the cervix. Taking even 1,000 mg of vitamin C a day does not make this problem in less likely in pregnant women. Taking just 500 mg of vitamin C a day as part of a balanced program of healthy food and nutritional supplements, however, increases the likelihood of a safe pregnancy ending when a healthy baby is delivered at term.

Selected References:

Mercer BM, Abdelrahim A, Moore RM, Novak J, Kumar D, Mansour JM, Perez-Fournier M, Milluzzi CJ, Moore JJ. The impact of vitamin C supplementation in pregnancy and in vitro upon fetal membrane strength and remodeling. Reprod Sci. 2010 Jul;17(7):685-95.