Prenatal vitamins improve the nutrients your body requires to protect you and your baby from preventable diseases that can occur during pregnancy.
Supplements assure that you get the adequate nutrients. By starting a prenatal vitamin regimen before conception, you strengthen your body with essential vitamins and minerals that are necessary to prevent major birth defects that develop in the first nine weeks of pregnancy.Read on to learn why and how you should take prenatal vitamins.
The Importance of Taking Prenatal Vitamins
For women with dietary restrictions, medical issues and previous complications during pregnancy, it is especially important to take prenatal vitamins. Doctors recommend supplements for women who:
- Is Epileptic or have Type 2 Diabetes
- Take medication for Lupus, Asthma or Psoriasis
- Renal or Liver Disease
- Is likely to have Sickle Cell Disease or Celiac Disease
- Have Food Allergies or Intolerances
- Is Lactose Intolerant
- Are Vegetarians or Vegans
- Had Gastric Bypass Surgery
- Are Pregnant with Multiples – Twins, Triplets, ect.
What can Prenatal Vitamins give Me that eating does not?
During pregnancy the need for higher levels of folic acid and iron is essential. Eating a well balanced diet cannot provide the levels that are necessary, which calls for grant of prenatal vitamins.
1. Folic Acid
Folic Acid prevents or reduces the risk of birth defects, such as:
- Spina bifida – a defect in which the spine fails to protect the spinal cord causes lifelong disability
- Anencephaly – a defect in which the brain does not develop completely resulting in death either before or just after birth
- Cleft palate – a defect where the unborn mouth or lip do not form properly
- Heart failure – there is research suggesting that insufficient amounts of folic acid can cause some heart problems
Folic Acid reduces the risk of:
- Anaemia – a shortage of red blood cells leads to complications during pregnancy, including premature birth. Folic acid works with iron to distribute the nutrients needed.
- Preeclampsia – a condition where the mother develops high blood pressure affects the health of the baby and mother
Iron is the element that makes it possible for the body to make healthy cells, including red blood cells that are necessary for providing oxygen to the unborn infants with brain, hair, skin and organ development proper. Because the iron that is not absorbed by the body is stored, may take too much iron be as harmful as too little. Prenatal vitamins monitored by your doctor will help prevent an over load of iron build up.
What Nutrients do I need that are not in Prenatal Vitamins?
Most prescriptive prenatal supplements has calcium at a level far below those required during pregnancy. Calcium is needed by the child for the production of teeth, bones, muscles and nerves. You can make up for the lack of calcium by eating foods rich in this nutrient such as dairy products.
2. Essential Fatty Acids
These are the omega-3, which plays a critical role in the brain and nerve development. The two elements of the fatty acids which are essential called DHA and EPA. Both of these nutrients can be found in:
- Tuna steaks – not canned tuna
Note: Salmon has been listed as very high in omega-3 fatty acids. Wild salmon may contain mercury, while farmed salmon may be contaminated by waste products of drugs.
As with many Vitamins and Minerals, Vitamin D works hand in hand with other nutrients to be effective. Vitamin D helps with the absorption of calcium and phosphate which prevents the risk of soft or weakened bone. The body generates its own vitamin D when the skin is exposed directly to the sun. For those who get inadequate sunlight, supplements of Vitamin D is necessary.
A blood sample is needed to determine if the level of Vitamin D are where they should be. Hazardous low levels of this vitamin can add to the risk of preeclampsia and the need for cesarean section.
How to Choose Prenatal Vitamins
The Food and Drug Administration [FDA] does not control or has any standards for the ingredients of vitamin or mineral supplements. Before taking any supplements, discuss it with your doctor.
A preconception health checkup is the first place to ask your doctor to help you choose the right supplements for you while you are trying to become pregnant. The second best option is to discuss improvements vitamin is your first prenatal visit. Take only what your healthcare provider recommends or prescribes.
There are many prenatal vitamins that are sold over-the-counter. Ask your doctor if there is a particular brand, which is more suitable for you.
1. If your provider leaves the option for you, read the labels carefully looking for the following ingredients and levels:
- Folic acid – 400-800 micrograms [mcg]
- Iron – 30 milligrams [mg]
- Calcium – 250 milligram [mg]
- Vitamin D – 200 international units [IU]
- Vitamin C – Ascorbic Acid – 50 milligrams [mg]
- Vitamin B6 – 2 mg [mg]
- Zink – 15 milligram [mg]
- Copper – 2 milligrams [mg]
2. Look for the USP symbol on the bottle. This is the United States Pharmacopeia seal of approval which indicates that the pill will dissolve quickly if swallowed. Many supplements made outside the United States, does not meet this standard and can sit in your stomach without releasing the nutrients promised.
3. Test if it dissolves. If you buy a vitamin line that does not have a USP symbol, test it by putting a pill or capsule in a ½ cup of white vinegar. Stir it gently every 5 – 10 minutes. It should dissolve completely in 30-45 minutes maximum.
4. If you choose a supplement without calcium, be sure that you get this mineral in other ways.
5. Some supplements can cause constipation or excess gas. Ask your doctor about an alternative if experience these side effects.
Important: A well-balanced diet is essential for good health during pregnancy. Prenatal vitamins are needed to improve the nutrients you need – not replace them. There are no supplements that will meet 100% of your specific requirements. Discuss the content of vitamins and minerals for your situation. Former pregnancy complications may result in your healthcare increasing or decreasing one or more vitamin or mineral.