Pregnancy increases the need for nutritional support. Pregnant women must consume nutrients that are essential for maintaining health during their pregnancy, as well as nutrients necessary for their babies’ development. When it comes to obtaining the vitamins and minerals you need, eating a healthy diet is the best way to do it. However, it is extremely difficult to get all of the nutrients your baby and you need just from your diet, even if you eat a wide variety of foods. This is why it is essential to take prenatal vitamins for pregnancy. Prenatal vitamins are an excellent way to ensure pregnant women get all the nutrients they need. Let us evaluate the benefits of prenatal vitamins.
Why are prenatal vitamins important during pregnancy? You can make your pregnancy healthier by taking a prenatal vitamin every day. You can ensure that you and your unborn child receive the necessary nutrition throughout your pregnancy if you take prenatal vitamins in conjunction with a balanced diet. Still, wondering “is it necessary to take prenatal vitamins during pregnancy? Well, read on.
What Are Prenatal Vitamins?
Prenatal vitamins are a combination of vitamins and minerals that a woman requires not only during pregnancy but also before conception and after delivery. Women’s nutritional requirements increase during all these stages. A prenatal vitamin is specifically designed to address these needs.
A prenatal vitamin, for example, has more iron, calcium, and folic acid than the regular multivitamin you might take. Among the prenatal vitamins, you will find folic acid (folate), calcium, iron, vitamin D, and iodine in varying amounts. Vitamin A, E, C, B, zinc, magnesium, and thiamine are also found in prenatal supplements.
Most of the vitamins and minerals are in an easily absorbable form. Synthetic folic acid in prenatal, for example, is absorbed by the body more efficiently than natural folic acid found in foods. Folic acid is extremely important since it helps prevent neural tube defects.
So even if you do eat a well-balanced diet, a supplement is strongly recommended. A prenatal vitamin is formulated with the assumption that the person taking it will eat a healthy diet. Prenatal vitamins are therefore supplements, not replacements for a balanced diet1. Consult your doctor before beginning to take prenatal vitamins and to find out the dosage they recommend. Overdosing on prenatal vitamins can harm your baby.
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As mentioned previously, prenatal vitamins are not exclusively used during pregnancy. Prenatal vitamins should be taken before getting pregnant. This ensures that mother and fetus receive the maximum nutrition during the first few weeks of pregnancy, the most active period of fetal development, which is often before most women know they are pregnant. Additionally, if you are breastfeeding, your healthcare provider may suggest that you continue taking prenatal vitamins for several months after giving birth.
7 Benefits Of Prenatal Vitamins During Pregnancy
Taking prenatal vitamins is essential to fill any nutritional void that hinders healthy pregnancy progression. It is especially beneficial when diet alone is not enough to meet the expecting mother’s nutritional needs. A woman’s top three essential nutrients during pregnancy are folic acid, iron, and calcium.
During pregnancy, the expectant mother can maintain her own health and minimize certain risks for the unborn child by taking the right prenatal vitamins and minerals. Prenatal vitamins contain all the essential elements necessary for the development of fetal skin, hair, eyes, bones, and lungs.
Taking prenatal vitamins can provide you with the following benefits:
1. Promotes immunity
Pregnancy is known for weakening the immune system, making the mother more susceptible to sickness. Besides providing you with essential vitamins and minerals for a healthy pregnancy and fetus development, the best prenatal multivitamins can also boost your immunity2. Iron, vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, and vitamin A are all important components of prenatal vitamins that keep your immunity strong.
2. Contribute to the development of the baby’s nervous system
Folic acid ranks high on the list of nutrients that are essential to a healthy pregnancy. Folic acid is a major component of prenatal vitamins. Folic acid is vital during pregnancy to the development of a baby’s brain and spinal cord. It has been shown that getting adequate amounts of the B vitamin folic acid as early as possible in pregnancy or before conception can greatly reduce the chance (around 70% reduction) of the child developing neural tube defects such as spina bifida (a cleft spine) and anencephaly. It may also lower your child’s risk of having a cleft lip, a cleft palate, or certain heart defects.
Vitamin B6 is another nutrient found in prenatal vitamins that can help your baby’s brain and nervous system develop properly. Prenatal vitamins also contain iodine, a mineral linked to a healthy thyroid gland. A healthy thyroid gland is crucial to pregnancy. Iodine is also necessary for the development of the fetal nervous system.
3. Helps prevent iron-deficiency anemia
The amount of iron women need during pregnancy is approximately twice as much as before conception. During pregnancy, the body uses iron to make hemoglobin (blood) for both mother and unborn baby. Furthermore, iron facilitates the transfer of oxygen from the mother’s lungs to the baby’s body and to different parts of the mother’s body.
Due to iron deficiency, pregnant women can develop anemia, a condition that can cause extreme fatigue and other complications. Prenatal vitamins that contain iron can help prevent anemia. Severe anemia prevents red blood cells from carrying oxygen to the baby in the womb. Furthermore, it can cause low birth weight or preterm delivery.
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4. May prevent preeclampsia
High blood pressure, fluid retention, and protein in the urine are symptoms of preeclampsia, one of the serious complications during pregnancy. If a woman’s blood pressure is extremely high due to preeclampsia, an emergency C-section may be needed. When taking a prenatal vitamin during pregnancy, a woman’s risk for preeclampsia is reduced3. Folic acid, vitamin D, and calcium are the main components of prenatal vitamins that lower the risk of preeclampsia.
5. Reduces the effects of calcium deficiency
You can reduce your risk of developing preeclampsia and high blood pressure by consuming a few calcium rich foods during pregnancy. Calcium is essential for bone health during pregnancy. The baby in the womb requires calcium for the development of strong teeth and bones, a healthy heart, nerves, and muscles, as well as normal heart rhythms and blood clotting. The baby will draw calcium from the mother’s bone if the mother does not get enough calcium in her diet during pregnancy. As a result, a mother’s bone density can be affected and she is at greater risk of developing bone problems like osteoporosis in the future. Prenatal vitamins can meet a portion of the daily calcium requirements.
6. They can help prevent nausea
Nausea and morning sickness is very common, occurring in up to 80% of expectant mothers4. Prenatal vitamins contain vitamin B6. Pregnancy-related nausea can be alleviated with vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) helps our bodies to process certain amino acids (proteins). If left unprocessed these amino acids can trigger nausea. It has been reported that women experiencing severe morning sickness have lower levels of vitamin B6 in their bloodstream5.
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7. Reduces the risk of your child developing rickets
Vitamin D deficiency causes rickets, a condition in which bones become weakened and soft. The condition can lead to fractures and deformities. Calcium and phosphorus are better absorbed with vitamin D. An expecting mother who does not get enough vitamin D during pregnancy may have a baby at risk for rickets. This can lead to abnormal bone growth and delayed development in the baby. Prenatal vitamins can provide enough vitamin D to combat this.
What Happens If You Don’t Take Prenatal Vitamins While Pregnant?
Pregnant women have different nutritional needs than those who are not pregnant, and skipping prenatal care may harm their health as well as fetal development. The consumption of prenatal vitamins can help prevent miscarriages, birth defects, and preterm labor. When you do not take a prenatal vitamin, you may be at risk for a relatively uncommon health issue like anencephaly or spina bifida or pregnancy complications like preeclampsia. Iodine deficiency can be harmful to the baby’s healthy brain development, and in extreme cases is linked to miscarriage and stillbirth
When Should A Pregnant Woman Take Prenatal Vitamins?
“I’m pregnant when should I start taking prenatal vitamins” is a common inquiry in many forums. The answer is at least one month before trying to conceive. Why? For the health and development of the fetus, the first few weeks of pregnancy are crucial. It is possible to prevent some birth defects by taking prenatal vitamins that contain folic acid prior to pregnancy. What if you didn’t take prenatal vitamins before getting pregnant? No problem. Once your pregnancy has been confirmed, your doctor will prescribe them. Keep taking them throughout your pregnancy.
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While your nutritional needs during pregnancy do increase, most people who follow a balanced diet will not need to take a multivitamin. A balanced diet should include lean proteins, low-fat dairy sources, whole grains, and plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. While pregnant, this isn’t always possible, especially during the first several months when morning sickness makes eating impossible. Similarly, eating well throughout pregnancy can be hindered by many issues. Following a healthy diet and taking prenatal vitamins can lead to a healthy pregnancy and support your baby’s development. Your doctor is the best person to prescribe a prenatal, as there are several to select from.
If you are pregnant, you must make sure you choose a prenatal supplement that is safe and appropriate for you to take, with the help of your healthcare provider.
The concentration of each nutrient varies with each formulation. An OB may recommend a supplement containing extra nutrients to address your health concerns.
-Omega-3 fatty acids are vital to promoting fetal brain development. Many prenatal contain DHA. However, if you don’t eat fish or other foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, your health care provider might recommend omega-3 fatty acid supplements (like fish oil capsules) in addition to prenatal vitamins
-If your prenatal does not contain enough calcium, you may need to take a calcium supplement. Most prenatal vitamins do not contain the required amount of calcium because too much calcium makes a multivitamin unstable. Many pregnancy supplements contain only 150 to 250 milligrams per day; pregnant women need 1,000 milligrams a day. Supplementation is the only option if the diet does not provide rest
-The institute of medicine recommends pregnant women consume 600 IUs of vitamin D each day. The majority of prenatal vitamins contain 400 IU, which should be enough when paired with a healthy diet. Otherwise, the doctor may prescribe a supplement