Prenatal Vitamins 101! Essential Nutrients You Must Take for a Healthy Pregnancy & Fab Start

Pregnant? It's time for prenatal vitamins!

January 1, 2013 • Fitness & Wellness, Hot Topics, Lifestyle, Marriage • Views: 74

Here’s to new beginnings! So you’re pregnant or planning on it? Congrats. Here we take a look at the key vitamins you should be supplementing during and before your pregnancy. ~aa

Pregnancy can be a very demanding time for your body, and keeping a good balance of vitamins and nutrients is crucial not only to help you feel energized and well during this period, but also to protect your baby and help them develop.  

In many cases, if there isn’t enough of a vital nutrient in your diet to support you and your baby, your body will automatically redress the balance to ensure the baby is getting enough.  This means you can end up with a deficiency, which can be harmful to you in the long term.

Here we take a look at the key vitamins you should be supplementing during your pregnancy:

Folic Acid.

Most mothers-to-be are aware of the importance of folic acid, which can prevent the baby developing brain and spinal problems and conditions like spina bifida.  It is generally recommended that a woman who is trying to conceive should start supplementing with folic acid as soon as they begin trying to get pregnant, but even if your pregnancy was unexpected, you can start incorporating folic acid as soon as you know you are expecting.

The recommended dose for prenatal woman is 600 micrograms a day, though more won’t do any harm.  Many multivitamins, especially those created specifically for pregnant women, contain 600-1000 micrograms so this is the easiest way to ensure you are getting enough.

Iron.

Pregnancy can seriously diminish your iron levels, leading to anemia  which can leave you feeling tired and faint.  Iron is also essential to the development of your baby’s muscles, as well as your own.  While it is quite easy to include iron in your diet by eating dark green vegetables like spinach and kale and red meat like steak, the safest way to make sure you are getting enough is to take a supplement that includes all the iron you need.  Iron is generally included in prenatal supplements.

Calcium.

Calcium builds teeth and bones and is absolutely essential for your growing baby.  This is one of the minerals your body will take from your own bones to give to your baby if you don’t have enough of it in your diet for both of you, meaning your own bones and teeth can become more brittle and fragile than they should be.  To avoid this, eat plenty of dairy or use a supplement containing calcium.

DHA.

DHA is one of the omega-3 group of nutrients, which are what are known as fatty acids.  They are found in a lot of food sources, including oily fish like tuna, and are crucial for the development of a baby’s brain.  DHA is not included in the majority of multivitamins or prenatal vitamins, so you should buy a separate supplement to ensure you get enough DHA.

B12 and B6.

B vitamins are important for your general well-being, and a deficiency can be very serious.  Initially, it will just cause you to feel tired and out of sorts, but deficiencies of B12 and B6 can ultimately lead to very serious problems with your mental state, including memory loss, depression and anxiety.

 To keep yourself feeling fit and energized throughout you pregnancy make sure you have plenty of B12 and B6, as well as other B vitamins like riboflavin.  Many foods are fortified with B vitamins, particularly breakfast cereals, but a supplement won’t do you any harm and you will find B vitamins present in most prenatal complexes.

The easiest way to ensure you get all of the vitamins and minerals you need every single day is to take supplements.  However if you end up with a serious deficiency your doctor may want to give you regular injections, for example of iron.

While it is important to eat a balanced and healthy diet while pregnant, it can be difficult to get everything you need from dietary sources and to keep track of this, particularly if you are suffering from nausea or cravings that affect what you can and can’t eat.  The most advisable course of action is to take a prenatal supplement either as soon as you start trying to conceive or as soon as you find out you are pregnant.

Many experts recommend all women of child bearing age should take a daily multivitamin to keep their bodies well stocked with nutrients in case they get pregnant.

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Vitamin supplements are easy to purchase; you can buy them from your local pharmacy, supermarket or online.  It is however, always advisable to speak to your doctor first.

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