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Supplements to Avoid During Pregnancy

Many times, pregnant women are unable to meet up with the daily recommendation of some essential nutrients needed to take them through pregnancy. In cases like this, supplements are recommended to help them get the daily amount they need.

There is no benefit of taking vitamins supplements every day if you are healthy. The only reason why you will need a supplement is when you have a “specific dietary deficiency.” For example, a woman who smokes during pregnancy may need to take vitamin C and folate supplements. Vegan or vegetarians might also need to take supplements of some nutrients to prevent deficiencies.

If a woman is suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum (severe morning sickness) or has a poor diet, she may need supplements to avoid deficiencies. The only time you should take an iron supplement is when you have been tested and observed that you truly have an iron deficiency anemia. Also, it is not every supplement a pregnant woman should take, as some have shown to cause more harm than good to the babies. Here are supplements to avoid during pregnancy:

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is needed for good vision and overall health of both mother and child, but taking it in excess is quite dangerous and could harm your baby.1 The thing is, we have enough vitamin A food sources that will give you all the vitamin nutrients you need and so, adding a supplement could lead to overdosing also known as toxicity. When you have an excess of vitamins in your body, the ones your body does not need is piled up in the liver which could lead to liver damage. Symptoms of vitamin A toxicity include fatigue, muscle cramps, dry lips, or cracked lips.

It is best to avoid taking Vitamin A supplement and focus on eating fruits and vegetables with a surplus amount of it.

Whey Protein

Whey protein is not good for a woman during pregnancy. She is free to take it before or after, but not while pregnant. The reason is the source of a whey protein supplement is through cows, and it is impossible to determine the type of treatment used on the cows before the supplements were extracted from them which make it a potential risk for both mother and child.

Vitamin E

Taking vitamin E supplement is not advisable during pregnancy as it can lead to rupturing of the amniotic sack earlier than when it should.

It also causes abdominal pain for the mother who is a discomfort most pregnant women would rather not have.

Evening Primrose

Could be taken on a normal day but not during pregnancy as it could cause problems ranging from early uterine contractions to preterm birth. It also makes the cases of morning sickness more severe.

Black cohosh

This supplement is used by women to reduce hot flashes or menstrual cramps.

It is essential to note that this supplement is great for women who are not pregnant but dangerous to women who are, because, it could cause uterine contractions3 which are likely to make a woman go into labor weeks before the due date. Black cohosh is also one of the causes of liver problems.

Dong Quai

Dong Quai is a supplement with its origin from China’s root which is said to treat every ailment from high blood pressure to infertility. Women also use for treating hormonal imbalance that causes adult acne, rough skin, hot flashes and so on. But this cannot be used during pregnancy even if your face has a lot of pimples or you have a rough face due to the strains of pregnancy. Using dong Quai can also lead to miscarriage or preterm birth.4


This supplement is quite effective in treating illness such as diarrhea and respiratory problems, but it is not meant for pregnant women. Because it has been said to cause kernicterus4 which refers to a type of brain damage that is likely to lead to death.


Yohimbe is a supplement which was extracted from the bark of a tree only found in some parts of Africa. The normal use for such supplement is for the treatment of problems such as obesity and other chronic diseases. A pregnant woman who has been of Yohimbe supplement before taking in should stop immediately after noticing she has conceived as continuous use of this supplement could have harmful effects such as seizures, heart attacks or high blood pressure.6

Weight Loss Supplements

Because most women gain weight during pregnancy especially around the second and third trimester, some might be tempted to take weight loss medicines with the illusion that it may contain some nutrients that may also be good for women during pregnancy.

No, it doesn’t, at least not in the right ratio. Weight loss supplements should be put off until after pregnancy and breastfeeding the baby.

Eating a balanced diet and consciously counting the number of calories you take in a day is a better option. You can also exercise to cut down on unnecessary fat during pregnancy.

Soy Protein Isolate

A lot of vegan expectant mothers might be tempted to take this supplement to help them with their protein supply during pregnancy, but it is wrong on all counts and can have adverse effects on both mother and the fetus. It could increase estrogen activities in your body which could result in affecting your due date. There are a lot of food sources where pregnant women can get their supply of protein. You even have the plant and animal protein food sources which cater to both vegans and non-vegans. Supplements for protein are not needed.

Chamomile tea

Using this supplement could cause uterine contractions and lead to induced labor or preterm birth, and so, pregnant women do not need it.

Red clover

Red clover is a weed that grows in North America and Eurasia. It is used to cure for medicinal purposes to cure different ailments such as whooping cough, asthma, osteoporosis, high cholesterol, etc. It is also believed to treat problems of the female reproductive system such as menstrual irregularity, infertility and so on.

But, using red clover during pregnancy is not safe for pregnant women as it may result in pregnancy complications such as digestive problems, nausea, skin rashes, miscarriage, preterm birth, etc. However, most of these supposed complications are only theoretical as there are no studies to prove them.


Yarrow is a medicinal plant used for treating stomach issues such as gas, diarrhea, bloating etc. And looking at the fact that most women experience digestive problems during pregnancy, they would be tempted to try out the herb. But unfortunately, it is quite unsafe to take yarrow during pregnancy as it could result in miscarriage.

Other supplements to avoid are wormwood, angelica, blue cohosh, pennyroyal, ephedra, tansy, and mugwort.


Women are advised to concentrate on eating a healthy balanced diet rather than looking for supplements to help them feel the gap. Also, depending on the climate you leave, you may need supplements for nutrients which can be gotten naturally but is not available where you live.

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