We all know how important nutrition is but it becomes even more crucial when you have a baby on the way. This is why you have to ensure that you are getting enough of the right nutrients for you and your growing baby.
This is where prenatal vitamins come in. Also known as prenatal supplements, these vitamins and minerals are taken before and during your pregnancy.
But should you be taking these supplements? Are they really necessary?
The short answer is yes. These nutrients help to ensure that your baby is growing healthily. But with so many different varieties on the market, you should know what vitamins and minerals you need.
In order to make the best decision for you and your baby, click here for more on pregnancy and motherhood at Mommy Authority.
Rising in popularity during the mid-20th century, prenatal vitamins became an important aspect of pregnancy nutrition when studies showed a link between iron and folate deficiencies and problem pregnancies.
Back then, this nutritional cocktail used to cause heartburn, nausea and a range of other side effects. But luckily, as medical technology advanced this is no longer a real concern.
What To Look For In Prenatal Vitamins
Your doctor, obstetrician or gynecologist will sometimes prescribe you a certain type of prenatal supplement. If not, here is what you should be looking for:
- Folic Acid
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin E
Folic acid is synthesized from folate, a B-Vitamin that is important for the generation of red blood cells. It helps with the development of the baby’s neural tube, brain, and spinal cord – preventing defects.
The recommended dosage of folic acid is 400 micrograms. This compound can also be found in fortified cereals, as well as dark green vegetables and various citrus fruits.
This is a steroid vitamin that is important for your pregnancy. Not only is it beneficial to your health but for the health of your baby as well. Research shows that Vitamin D plays a role in immune function, cell division, and bone development.
Because of the correlation between this vitamin and the absorption of calcium, a lack of the recommended dosage of 400 IU could increase the risk of cancer, autoimmune disease, and insulin resistance.
Calcium is an essential mineral that is necessary for life to form. Apart from building and maintaining healthy bones, this mineral helps the blood to clot, the heart to beat and the muscles to contract.
Because your body does not produce calcium, you have to take supplements and eat calcium-rich foods, such as dairy. You need approximately 1,000 mg of calcium per day, from prenatal vitamins and food.
This vitamin promotes the absorption of iron and is, therefore, a must in any prenatal supplement. However, it is important to note that you should not consume more than 85 mg per day (from diet and supplementation).
Also known as Vitamin B1, Thiamine helps to convert carbohydrates into energy and promotes a healthy nervous system, heart, and muscles. This nutrient also promotes your baby’s brain development.
However, there are some associated risks and should only be taken in small quantities (not exceeding 1.4 mg per day).
As a form of Vitamin B2, Riboflavin is necessary for the growth of your baby. It also promotes good vision and a healthy dermis (skin). This essential vitamin further assists in promoting healthy bones, nerves and muscle development.
When you lack Vitamin B2, you could be at greater risk to develop preeclampsia.
Niacin is another form of Vitamin B (B3) that plays an essential part in burning energy, DNA cell, and healthy cholesterol levels. When you are pregnant, it is important to get the right amount of Niacin (no more than 18 mg a day).
Also known as Cobalamin, this vitamin is crucial for a healthy nervous system. When combined with folic acid, in your prenatal vitamin mix, it can help to decrease the risk of spinal and nervous system defects such as spina bifida, in your baby. The recommended dosage for this vitamin is 2.8 micrograms.
Supplementing your prenatal nutrition with vitamin E can help to decrease the possibility of oxidative stress complications (pre-eclampsia). This is because of its antioxidant and free radical fighting properties.
Zinc is an all-important mineral that promotes healthy immune function during pregnancy. It also helps to decrease the frequency and severity of infections. Zinc promotes cell growth and the development/function of your baby’s DNA – therefore you should take the recommended 12 mg per day.
A lack of iron has serious implications for your baby’s development. When you have too little iron, it can lead to premature and underweight births. You should start taking approximately 30 mg iron daily, as soon as you find out that you are pregnant.
Iodine should be a part of your prenatal supplement. It is essential for women with thyroid conditions, who may need extra Iodine. During the first few months of pregnancy, your baby does not produce the thyroid hormone – this means that you have to have enough iodine in your system to produce enough of this hormone for both you and your baby.
Every mother and pregnancy is different. This is why it is vital that you consult your doctor before taking prenatal vitamins. They will be able to best advise you on which minerals and vitamins you need for a healthy pregnancy.