Prenatal care is important for keeping you and your baby healthy. Prenatal vitamins can be a great way to supplement your healthy diet and exercise. However, you may not be sure what to look for in your prenatal vitamin. Below is a list of all the ingredients to look for and how much you need. It also important to note that it may be best to begin taking prenatal vitamins before conception, or before any attempts to conceive.
Folic Acid –
Folic acid may be the most important vitamin, especially in the beginning. Although folic acid is available in most leafy and green foods, it is difficult to get the full amount needed. Folic acid helps promote healthy neural tube development and prevents neural tube defects. The neural tube develops in the first 28 days and before most women know they are pregnant. This is why it is important to consider prenatal care before conception.
Iron has a couple of important roles during pregnancy. Iron helps blood carry oxygen for the mother and future child. During pregnancy, the mother will have in increase in blood volume which makes iron consumption even more crucial. Iron also supports the development of muscle and blood cells. Lastly, iron prevents anemia, which is a condition which lowers your red blood cell count.
Calcium is important for maintaining bone density as the developing embryo utilizes calcium. Calcium also helps with blood circulation, nervous, & muscular systems.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is an omega-3 fatty acid that is structural component of the human brain, cerebral cortex, and skin. DHA helps promote healthy eye and nervous system tissue. This can be very important during the first stages of pregnancy when the neural tube is being developed. Some studies suggest that DHA can help the mother carry the pregnancy to full term.
Vitamin D –
Vitamin D helps keep bones healthy and strong. Vitamin D can also help with heart health. Low vitamin D has been linked to poor growth, bone growth, and limited calcium absorption.
Vitamin C –
Vitamin C sources can also be found in fresh fruits and vegetables. Vitamin C is important to develop collagen, build cartilage, tendons, bones, skin. This vitamin can also help fight infections and help the absorption of iron.
Vitamin E –
In the body, Vitamin E helps give cells their structure. It is fairly clear why this is an important nutrient during your pregnancy. Vitamin E helps protect cell membranes. It is important to note that too much Vitamin E can be harmful.
Low levels of zinc are associated with a low birth weight which can lead to other health issues. There are others studies that claim that zinc can also help with the immune system.
Iodine helps promote healthy thyroid function during pregnancy. This nutrient is important to include because the body cannot produce iodine. In some cases, iodine deficiency can cause stunted growth, mental disability, and deafness. Iodine also plays a role in the development of the central nervous system.
There are multiple B vitamins that pregnant women may need including
- Thiamine (Vitamin B1) – 1.5 – 3 milligrams,
- Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) – 2 milligrams,
- Niacin (Vitamin B3) – 20 milligrams,
- Cobalamin (Vitamin B12) – 6 micrograms,
- Vitamin B6 – 1.9 micrograms
Thiamine is responsible for converting carbohydrates into glucose to give energy. This vitamin helps the embryos development of the embryos brain, nervous system, muscles, and heart. Riboflavin is important for overall growth and helps tissue use oxygen. And the B12 vitamin helps the development of the neural tube.
Getting the right amount of nutrients can be crucial in the health of you and your baby. Be sure to talk to your doctor regularly about your health and family plans. It is also important to remember to eat a healthy diet and supplement when appropriate. The best sources of vitamins and nutrients are found in food. In order to get all that you need, it is best to find a prenatal vitamin that includes all of these ingredients.