Discovering you have life growing inside of you can be one of the best feelings in the world. Women are blessed with the responsibility of nurturing and protecting their growing fetus for 40 weeks, to ensure a healthy delivery and a healthy baby. Stress management, adequate water intake, good nutrition and vitamins are all key factors in a healthy pregnancy. During pregnancy, there is a demand for more nutrients as the growing fetus forces the continuous replenishment of vitamins. Bigger appetites allow for more vitamin intake, but it is difficult to gage just how much vitamins a mother is getting and if it is enough for her and her baby. This is where supplements come to the rescue. Prenatal vitamins offer a variety of potent nutrients in measured dosages. This provides relief to the mother, knowing she is getting the proper amount of nutrients for her and baby.
In this article we will discuss the best over the counter prenatal vitamins.
Do You Need Prenatal Supplements?
The simple answer is yes, prenatal vitamin supplementation is a key factor in healthy fetus development. There is a whole life growing inside of a woman, who depends directly on her nutrient intake for their proper growth and development. Prenatal supplements are specially formulated to give the baby and mother, exactly what they need to maintain optimal health. Prenatal vitamins are also beneficial if the mother has a poor diet, or if she is eating healthy but still wants to ensure she is getting enough of what she and her baby need.
When Should You Start Taking Prenatal Vitamins?
One should begin taking prenatal vitamins as soon as they have decided to conceive. Creating a healthy, nutrient-rich environment for the fetus is just as important as maintaining it. Taking a prenatal beforehand, gives the mother a head start in balancing any potential nutrient deficiencies, strengthening her own body and creating a healthy space for when conception takes place. There is really no golden rule as to how early you should begin taking a prenatal, but generally speaking, women usually begin 1-3 months before conception. If you are currently taking a multivitamin, it is safe to swap supplements as you see fit.
How Do You Choose Prenatal Vitamins?
There is definitely a much higher dose of specific nutrients in prenatal vitamins in order to support every stage of the baby’s development. The main difference in nutrients when comparing a regular multivitamin to a prenatal are its Folic Acid, Vitamin D, Calcium, Iron, B vitamins and Omega 3 content. Below we will take a quick look at each and discover exactly how much of each vitamin to look for when shopping for the best over the counter prenatal vitamin.
Folic acid is a B vitamin but stands on its own as a key nutrient due to its ability to prevent birth defects. It helps to prevent neural tube defects which involves poor brain and spinal cord development, as well as mental disorders that may be obvious upon delivery or can develop at a later stage in life. Folic acid also helps in preventing a cleft palate and assists with the general growth and development of the fetus. Folic acid deficiency can be caused by the lack of intake or a high fat and refined carbohydrate diet. Studies have shown that an intake of at least 0.4mg of folic acid one month before conception will decrease the chance of neural defects that take place within the first 28 days of pregnancy. This amount is easily obtained from a healthy diet When looking at dosage during pregnancy, be sure to find a prenatal that has at least 400mcg dosage. The best food sources are all leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables and beans.
Vitamin D And Calcium
Vitamin D (also known as the Sunshine vitamin) is involved in cell reproduction, blood cell formation and enhances the immune system. It is necessary for the absorption of calcium into the bones and both nutrients help to protect and strengthen the baby’s skeletal formation and structure. Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body, 98% is found in the bones and the other 2% in the teeth and other tissues. Calcium needs are doubled during pregnancy, women need to ingest at least 1200mg a day, especially in the last trimester as over half of the calcium in an infant’s body is deposited at this time. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin and toxicity is possible. Required amounts will be dependent upon the mother’s environment (lots of sun exposure calls for less vitamin D supplementation), eating habits and current levels. 400 IU is generally a safe dosage but always check with your doctor and take under medical supervision if needed.
Iron is needed in significantly higher amounts during pregnancy. Iron is a blood builder and the main component in hemoglobin, which is responsible for transporting oxygen in the blood to the tissues in order to maintain the basic functions of life. The blood is the vehicle that holds and transports all nutrients to the cells in the body, therefore iron deficiency (anemia) can inhibit vital oxygen and nutrients to the baby. Protein and vitamin C aid in the absorption of iron. Excess iron in the body can have toxic effects, although deficiency is common in pregnant women, always supplement on the advice of your physician as some pregnant women will require more than others. Foods include green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits and nuts.
B Complex Vitamins
There is a plethora of B vitamins but the one’s pregnant women should look out for in supplements include Thiamine (B-1), Riboflavin (B-2), Niacin (B-3) and B-12. B vitamin functions are closely interrelated in the body. They are important for the health of the nervous system and the mother’s ability to properly metabolize carbohydrates, proteins and fats. They also play a role in the mother’s energy levels and should be replenished every day; as water-soluble vitamins are not stored in the body. The following dosages should be considered, Thiamine – 3mg, Riboflavin- 2mg, Niacin – 20mg and B-12 at 6mcg daily.
Omega 3 is a fatty acid which includes DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). These facts are not produced in the body but rather, must be consumed through food (usually fresh water fish, nuts or avocados) or supplementation. Studies show that Omega 3 can lower the risk of preterm birth and low birth weight. DHA in particular is vital for baby’s brain and eye development, as well as cognitive function. Noor’s Prenatal DHA + Ginger, contains naturally sourced Omega 3 from cold water fish, essential vitamins like folic acid, b vitamins, calcium, iron and many other nutrients. Carefully formulated to give you all you need in a prenatal vitamin, along with the benefits of soothing ginger root to help ease stomach discomfort and morning sickness. 100% Halal and free of synthetic ingredients.
All in all, prenatal vitamins are a must have before the conception process as well as during the growth and development of the fetus. Speaking from experience, being pregnant has its moments of annoyance but is all in all a beautiful experience. A prenatal vitamin will gives the reassurance of knowing you are giving yourself and your baby exactly what you both need.