Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet rich in essential nutrients, minerals, and vitamins is of the utmost importance during pregnancy. Eating healthy foods, such as green leafy vegetables, fruits, nuts, milk, cheese, and yogurt during pregnancy ensures that the growing baby gets all the nutrients for her growth, and lets the to-be-mother stay strong and healthy during and after pregnancy.
If you are pregnant, or you are someone, who is hoping to conceive, you must also include prenatal vitamins in your diet in addition to eating a healthy diet. This is because if you are vegetarian, or you are allergic to certain foods, or you cannot eat certain foods, there are chances that you may be missing on some of the important nutrients. Prenatal vitamins are the best means to cover any nutritional gaps in your diet and help your baby get all that she needs to grow healthy.
Understanding Prenatal Vitamins
Prenatal vitamins are like multivitamins only, just that they are meant for pregnant women. In comparison to normal multivitamins, prenatal vitamins have extra nutrients that pregnant women need during pregnancy. Prenatal vitamins contain various minerals and vitamins that aid baby's adequate growth and development, and at the same time help prevent neural tube defects and anaemia. According to What To Expect, “Since baby’s neural tube forms in the first month of pregnancy — before most women know that they’re pregnant — it’s ideal to start taking your prenatal vitamin before you start trying to conceive.”
Some of the important vitamins that prenatal vitamins include, are Folic acid, Iron, calcium, Vitamin D, DHA, and Iodine.
Folic acid is a B vitamin that cells require for healthy growth and development. Pregnant women must take folic acid during pregnancy to help prevent birth defects of the brain and spine called neural tube defects. Taking folic acid during pregnancy also helps in preventing birth defects in the baby's mouth and protects the baby from heart defects. If you are trying to conceive, you must take a prenatal vitamin with 400 MCG of folic acid daily, and if you are pregnant, it is advisable to take a prenatal vitamin each day that has 600 micrograms of folic acid in it.
Another very important mineral that prenatal vitamins have is Iron. Our body makes use of iron to make haemoglobin. Haemoglobin helps carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. During pregnancy, your body needs twice as much iron as it did before pregnancy to make more blood and carry oxygen to your baby. Your baby requires iron to make her own blood. During pregnancy, you must take a prenatal vitamin that has at least 27 milligrams of iron in it.
Yet another crucial prenatal vitamin that you must take is Calcium. It is a mineral that helps in the development of your baby’s bones, teeth, heart, muscles, and nerves develop. During pregnancy, you need at least 1,000 milligrams of calcium every day to make sure that you do not suffer from a serious health condition such as osteoporosis, later in life. Osteoporosis is a condition in which your bones become thin and break easily due to calcium deficiency,
During pregnancy, you need 600 IU (international units) of vitamin D each day. Make sure you take a prenatal vitamin that gives you enough vitamin D to protect your body from infections and helps in the growth of your baby's teeth and bones.
Good prenatal vitamins include DHA. DHA is a fatty acid that aids growth and development. During pregnancy, you must intake prenatal vitamin that has 200 milligrams of DHA to help develop your baby’s brain and eyes.
Ask your health care provider for a prenatal vitamin that has Iodine. Your body needs Iodine to make thyroid hormones. The thyroid is a gland that produces hormones that enables the body to use and store energy from food. During pregnancy, taking a prenatal vitamin that contains 220 micrograms of Iodine helps in the development of the baby’s brain and nervous system.
Choosing the Right Prenatal Vitamins
Prenatal vitamins are readily available over the counter and can also be bought online. If you are pregnant, it is advisable to consult your health care provider for the best prenatal vitamins. He/she would suggest the right dose of the prenatal vitamin depending on your health and other medical conditions if any.
It is advisable to take prenatal vitamins throughout your pregnancy and continue to take them after the birth of the baby as well, especially if you choose to breastfeed your baby.
Please keep in mind that good prenatal vitamins are a complement to a healthy pregnancy diet. Eat foods that are rich in Folic acid, iron, and calcium. In addition to eating healthy, stay active. Do exercises that are safe for you and your baby. And last but the most important of all, stay happy and positive. Remember that only a healthy and happy mother can bring a happy and healthy baby into this world.
Stay happy, stay healthy. Enjoy your pregnancy.