Which Pregnancy Vitamins to Take and Why?
Pregnancy vitamins also referred to as prenatal vitamins, are a very important part of delivering a healthy baby. While you should be getting most of your necessary vitamin intake from the food you eat, taking prenatal vitamins as a supplement to your everyday diet ensures that you are getting adequate nutrition.
One of the most important and well-known pregnancy vitamins is folic acid.
Folic acid is a vitamin that your body needs for growth and development.
It has been shown to reduce the risk of problems or abnormalities with the baby’s brain and spine, also known as neural tube defects. One example of a potential neural tube defect that could result from folic acid deficiency is spina bifida. Ideally, you should begin taking extra folic acid three months before you become pregnant, or one month in advance at the very least. This is because the first few weeks of pregnancy are a critical period of development for the growing fetus, so it’s important that your body has adequate levels of folic acid to support the baby’s development. Vitamin B12 has a similar effect of preventing neural tube defects and it also plays an important role in DNA synthesis for the developing fetus.
Another important vitamin to take in during pregnancy is iron.
Iron supports the development of the placenta and fetus
by helping your body make blood to supply oxygen to the fetus. It also helps prevent anaemia, a condition in which blood has a low number of healthy red blood cells, low birth weight, and premature delivery. It’s also critical to take in adequate vitamin C in conjunction with iron because vitamin C aids in the absorption of iron, so they go hand in hand. For pregnant women under 18 years of age, 80 mg is suggested; for those above 18 years, 85 mg is recommended. Folic acid and iron are especially important to look for in vitamin supplements because those are two vitamins that people don’t often get enough of from their daily diet.
In addition to making sure you check for folic acid and iron, look for a prenatal vitamin that contains calcium and vitamin D. Calcium helps promote the development of the baby's teeth and bones and vitamin D aids the body in absorbing calcium. It also might be beneficial to look for a prenatal vitamin that contains vitamin A, vitamin E, B vitamins, zinc and iodine. Vitamin A helps bones and teeth grow, vitamin E helps the body produce and utilize red blood cells and muscles, and zinc helps the body produce insulin. As for B vitamins, there are four that pregnant women should incorporate in their diet. Vitamin B1 increases energy levels and helps to regulate the nervous system, vitamin B2 helps promote healthy skin and good eyesight, vitamin B3 helps with nerve development and digestion, vitamin B6 helps reduce morning sickness, and vitamin B12 plays an important role in the creation of DNA. Each one of these vitamins plays a vital role in the development of a fetus, so ensuring that your body is consuming adequate amounts of them will increase the likelihood of a healthy pregnancy.