Congratulations, you’re pregnant! Now that you’re expecting, you will need to be prepared and pay extra attention to your health. This is where prenatal vitamins come in to help boost the development of the fetus as well as prevent any neural tube defects1. Neural tube defects, affecting the fetal brain and spine, can occur early on in the pregnancy; sometimes even before the woman finds out she is pregnant2.
Prenatal vitamins are generally available over the counter in most pharmacies. However, your doctor may suggest specific brands for you to choose from. Besides prenatal vitamins, you will need additional supplements to help develop the fetus and improve your health. Read on to find out the many prenatal vitamins and supplements that you should take to boost your pregnancy.
The Benefits of Prenatal Vitamins
Ideally, prenatal vitamins should be taken before pregnancy, at least a month before conception. It would be best, however, to start taking multivitamins and minerals once a woman is in her reproductive age1. Nevertheless, it is still important to take vitamins during pregnancy since some nutrients are absorbed by the fetus as it circulates in your body3. Basically, taking prenatal vitamins benefit you and also contribute to the early development of the fetus3. During pregnancy, these vitamins and minerals are vital for the health of the mother and baby:
● Vitamin A
● Vitamin D
● Vitamin C
Important Nutrients You Need During Pregnancy
First, increase the intake of folic acid and iron as your body needs these nutrients while pregnant1. Folic acid helps prevent defects in the fetal brain and spinal cord, while iron aids the body to produce more blood to supply oxygen to the fetus1. Folic acid is a synthetic form of the B-vitamin folate, which similarly prevents spinal defects in the fetus3. You are advised to take 400 micrograms of folic acid daily for at least a month before pregnancy and continue the doses throughout pregnancy to help reduce the risk of brain and spine defects in the newborn4. Iron also prevents anemia in the mother. Furthermore, iron prevents the risk of premature birth and low birth weight3.
Calcium, Vitamin D & Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Calcium, on the other hand, helps strengthen your baby’s teeth and bones1. Vitamin D, which can be found in soybeans, spinach, and kale, also helps to strengthen bone health for pregnant women3. Iodine, which is present in most foods, promotes the functionality of the thyroid, and the proper development of the skeletal and nervous system of the fetus3. In case of iron deficiency, hypothyroidism can occur, which can sometimes lead to miscarriages or preterm labor3. Meanwhile, omega-3 fatty acids, such as those found in fish, can also promote the development of your baby’s brain1.
Be mindful of what you need daily and be careful about taking too much since high doses of certain vitamins can be harmful to your baby1. Therefore, consult your doctor on the specific doses for each vitamin and minerals that you need.
Generally, prenatal vitamins have side effects such nausea or constipation4. However, these are easily managed such as taking the vitamin before sleeping to lessen nausea from gastric upset. Constipation is prevented by drinking plenty of fluids, adding more fiber, and doing pregnancy-appropriate physical activities1.
When You Need Supplements
Iodine supplement is needed if your diet is lacking since some pregnant women do not get sufficient amounts of iodine during the first and second trimesters3. Iodine-enriched food can be added to your diet. You can also take omega-3 fatty acid supplements to help in the brain development of your baby1. This is also essential if you're having multiple births.
No prenatal vitamins are the same, and while some have a bit of everything, some may have limited nutrients5. In case of special health concerns, your doctor may suggest a supplement instead to still address your nutritional needs. If you are vegetarian, there are supplements that contain Vitamin B12, zinc, iron and DHA from algae, rather than omega-3 fatty acid from fish5.
The early stages of pregnancy are the most crucial for the development of your baby. As with all things, starting early is key to ensure your baby’s proper development and your overall health. Taking prenatal vitamins and supplements is simple and easy enough to do, and with plenty of benefits in the long run. Enfamama A+ has the highest levels of DHA designed to help meet expert recommendations. Combined with other essential nutrition, it contributes to a healthy pregnancy and fetal development. It is a good source for Folic Acid, Iron, Calcium, Zinc, Choline and Iodine.
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1 Pregnancy Week by Week (n.d.) Retrieved August 31, 2020 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/prenatal-vitamins/art-20046945
2 The best prenatal vitamins (2020) Retrieved August 31, 2020 from https://www.businessinsider.com/best-prenatal-vitamins
3 5 important questions about prenatal vitamins, answered (2019) Retrieved August 31, 2020 from https://www.businessinsider.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-prenatal-vitamins-2019-7
4 What are prenatal vitamins (n.d.) Retrieved August 31, 2020 from https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/pregnancy/pre-pregnancy-health/what-are-prenatal-vitamins
5 All About Prenatal Vitamins – Your Questions Answered (n.d.) Retrieved August 31, 2020 from https://www.parents.com/pregnancy/my-body/prenatal-vitamins/prenatal-vitamins-guide/