Most people believe that as long as you are having a healthy pregnancy, you don’t need to take any vitamin or mineral supplements. A healthy diet is definitely beneficial; but pregnant women should, on the recommendation of their gynecologists, take vitamin and mineral supplements. The simple reason being they may not get all the required nutrients from their food, however healthy and perfect their diet may be. But, it is also necessary to understand that supplements are not replacements for a proper diet. They are just a way to ensure that a pregnant woman is getting all the necessary nutritional elements.
Where Can I Get Prenatal Vitamins?
The health supplements are easy to avail at any pharmacy; but, it is of utmost importance that you start taking them only on the advice of your gynecologist. Beware!Any wrong consumption can harm you and your baby. If you are planning a pregnancy, you should ideally start taking pre-natal vitamins atleast three months before, but under supervision of a doctor. Also, never exceed the recommended daily dosage of any supplement; consuming more than recommended amounts can lead to problems in your pregnancy. If you are buying any supplement on your own, be sure that you understand the composition and the label correctly. Prenatal vitamins and their requirement would largely be subjective, do not start taking a supplement because someone else with some similar symptoms did. As no two people are similar, it is highly recommended that you ask your gynecologist to prescribe the correct and most suitable form of supplement depending on your health condition.
Is It Necessary To Take Prenatal Vitamins?
Unless your diet is just about perfect, you will need to get all the nutrients for yourself and the baby. Prenatal vitamins help in just that. Taking prenatal supplements becomes all the more necessary if you do follow any dietary restrictions, or have health issues. Some pregnancy complications may also make it indispensable to consume certain prenatal vitamins. Even if you score very high on your diet yet folic acid and iron are given to most pregnant women as it is difficult to get the requisite amounts of these vitamins from food alone.
Can I Take More Than Prescribed Doses Of Vitamins?
If you do end up taking your vitamins twice a day by mistake, it will not cause any harm. However, regular consumption thinking that it is good to take more vitamins can harm you and your baby adversely. It is only on the advise and recommendation of your doctor that you should be consuming prenatal vitamins, and only in the recommended amounts.
When Should I Start Taking Prenatal Supplements?
If yours is a planned pregnancy, go for a pre-conception check up and your doctor will assess what prenatal vitamins should you start consuming. It is suggested that you see a doctor 3 months before conceiving, and thus start taking prenatal vitamins.Regular antenatal check ups will also ensure that any lack of nutrition is in the attention of the doctor and can be dealt with immediately.
Common Prenatal Vitamins
Some of the most important and common vitamins and minerals that are beneficial to pregnant women are listed below:
- Folic Acid: It is one of the most important vitamins and it helps in preventing miscarriages in pregnant women. Folic acid also helps to reduce the risk of nerve defects such as Neural tube defect, Spina bifida, or Anencephaly in your unborn child. To ensure that you are consuming the adequate amount of folic acid in natural form during pregnancy, you can include green leafy vegetables like spinach, lettuce, broccoli, okra and fruits such as bananas, melons and lemons, orange and tomato juices and beans in your diet. Taking folic acid may also reduce the risk of pre-eclampsia (constriction of blood vessels due to high blood pressure)
- Vitamin D: One of the crucial vitamins recommended to pregnant women is Vitamin D as it regulates the amount of calcium and phosphate in a pregnant woman’s body to keep her teeth and bones healthy. A fetus should receive enough Vitamin D to ensure its proper bone development as the lack of Vitamin D can lead to rickets, a disease leading to softening to bones. It provides better immunity to the child. It is not found naturally in many food items but in oily fishes such as mackerel, sardines, and salmon; eggs, and meat. The best source of Vitamin D is sunlight but the required level of exposure to sunlight for a person varies from an individual to another
- Iron: The deficiency of iron in pregnant women may lead to anemia, thereby leading to low birth weight of the infant. Red meat, lentils, beans, fish, dried fruits, and nuts contain a good amount of iron and should be taken by pregnant women to ensure proper nourishment. Foods containing peanuts like peanut butter are also a good source of iron and can be included in the diet provided you are not allergic to them
- Calcium: It is one of the most important minerals, which improves yours and your baby’s bones and teeth. Dairy items such as milk, butter, cheese, dry fruits, cereals and green leafy vegetables are good sources of calcium. Fish with edible bones, such as sardines are also a great source of calcium. Tofu, almonds, and green leafy vegetables like broccoli, plus dried fruit such as figs should be made part of your regular diet. Your doctor may recommend calcium tablets if need be
- Vitamin C: Citrus fruits, tomatoes and bell peppers will provide you with vitamin C, which protects the body cells and keeps them healthy.
- Iodine: For the baby’s growth and development, iodine is a necessary requirement. Since many people have started consuming gourmet salts instead of iodine salts, it could cause a deficiency in a pregnant woman. Make sure that you have iodine fortified salt
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Fish is basically the best source of omega -3 fatty acids, and if you are not a fan of seafood, the doctor may prescribe capsules that contain fish oil
- Vitamin B-12: Essentially found in animal products like eggs, dairy, and meats, a vegetarian pregnant woman may be recommended a supplement. Vitamin B-12 has been found to play a key role in the neuro-development of a fetus
An expecting mother should always remember that her baby’s health depends on her being healthy. So, a proper diet and intake of necessary supplements as advised by your gynecologist will ensure a smooth pregnancy and safe delivery.