Prenatal Vitamins and Nutrition | Everything That You Need to Know
If you’re newly pregnant, one of the first things that your doctor will likely do is put you on some type of prenatal vitamins to help the baby get enough nutrients to develop and grow properly. Prenatal vitamins are given at the beginning of pregnancy because a lot of the vitamins and minerals included in the vitamins, such as folic acid, are important in the first trimester when the baby’s brain and spinal cord are developing. Let’s take a closer look at these amazing vitamins.
What Makes Prenatal Vitamins So Unique?
Prenatal vitamins are specially made and contain not only the right vitamins and minerals, but also the right amounts of vitamins and minerals. Most likely, your doctor will recommend a particular brand of vitamins to take, but whether they do or not, below is a list of vitamins and minerals that should be included in the vitamins you choose:
- Folic acid: 400 mcg. This helps prevent neural tube defects, which usually occur in the first trimester of pregnancy.
- Iron: 27 mg. Your doctor may also recommend an additional iron supplement, depending on your levels.
- Vitamin A: 770 mcg.
- Vitamin B6: 1.9 mg.
- Vitamin B12: 2.6 mcg.
- Vitamin C: 80 mg.
- Vitamin D: 600 IU.
- Vitamin E: 15 mg. This vitamin is usually included because it is a good antioxidant.
- Calcium: 1,000 mg. Calcium is necessary for bone density and strong bones and teeth.
- Riboflavin: 1.4 mg. Also called vitamin B2, riboflavin protects hair, skin, and eyes, and helps grow various organs in the fetus.
- Thiamine: 1.4 mg. Also called vitamin B1, thiamine is good for general growth and development of the fetus.
- Niacin: 18 mg. Niacin is vitamin B3, and it is water-soluble and therefore isn’t stored in the body.
- Zinc: 11 mg. Zinc has many advantages, including boosting the immune system.
Ideally, your vitamins will also have iodine, which can prevent miscarriages and contributes to a healthy thyroid; choline, which contributes to brain health; and Omega-3 fatty acids, which can help your baby have a healthy birth rate and decrease the possibility of a preterm birth. If your prenatal vitamin is missing one or more of these vitamins or minerals, don’t panic. Just talk to your doctor and they’ll make sure that you and the baby are getting everything you need.
In addition, many doctors may prescribe you some prenatal vitamins instead of recommending something that’s over the counter. As long as you’re taking the type of prenatal vitamins your doctor recommends, you should be fine. If you have any questions or concerns, however, you should feel comfortable talking to your doctor about them.
In short, there are tons of benefits of prenatal vitamins, especially if you choose the right ones. Keep in mind that even if you take excellent care of yourself, you’ll likely still need these vitamins. Any nutrients you have in your body will be taken by the fetus during its development first, and anything “left over” goes to the mother. For both mother and baby to get what they need, you’ll need a prenatal vitamin every day.
What Happens When Moms-to-Be Don’t Take Prenatal Vitamins?
While it is possible to go through a pregnancy without taking prenatal vitamins, it is not recommended. Lots of good foods help baby grow in the womb, but unless you’re getting the right vitamins and minerals in the right amounts, you won’t know for sure if the baby is getting what’s necessary to grow properly and be healthy.
In fact, here are a few things that may happen if you don’t take a good prenatal vitamin:
- Low birth weight
- Neural tube defects
- Developmental delays
- Preterm birth
- Congenital disabilities
- Miscarriage or stillbirth
Fortunately, even prescription prenatal vitamins tend to be inexpensive, so if you need another reason to take them regularly while you’re pregnant, the fact that they’re cheap should be an incentive for you.
Other Things That You Should Know About Prenatal Vitamins
Prenatal vitamins should definitely be considered one of your pregnancy must-haves, and in fact, some studies have shown that taking these vitamins can lower your risk of suffering with postpartum depression after the baby arrives. Keep in mind, however, that vitamins are not regulated by the FDA, which means that not all prenatal vitamins are alike.
This is why it’s so important to get your doctor’s help when choosing a good prenatal vitamin. They can help you choose one that has the right ingredients in the right amounts. That being said, some prenatal vitamins, even the good ones, can cause side effects such as nausea, dry skin, dizziness, and constipation. Some of these are symptoms of pregnancy, so if they concern you, you should speak to your doctor about them.
In addition, if you’re buying over-the-counter prenatal vitamins, always make sure that they aren’t expired. Prenatal vitamins need to be as fresh as possible for them to be most effective. And if the box or container looks dirty or old, don’t buy it. These are just a few of the things to consider when buying your prenatal vitamins so they do the most good.
ConclusionPrenatal vitamins are a must when you’re pregnant, even if you take good care of yourself and have a healthy diet. Certain ingredients, including iron and folic acid, should be included in the vitamins that you choose, and your doctor may even prescribe vitamins instead of having you buy over-the-counter ones. If you have any concerns or questions about your vitamins, always talk to your doctor about them.
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