Benefits of Prenatal Vitamins
Taking a daily prenatal vitamin is one of the easiest things you can do to help encourage a healthy pregnancy. When combined with a well-balanced diet, prenatal vitamins help ensure that you and your baby are receiving the vital nutrition that is necessary throughout every stage of pregnancy.
Why Prenatal Vitamins Are Important
During your pregnancy, your body’s nutritional requirements are different than at other times, and prenatal vitamins are designed for the specific needs of pregnant women. For example, prenatal vitamins have more iron, calcium, and folic acid than regular multivitamins. Folic acid, in particular, is an important part of any diet, but it is imperative for a pregnant woman. Folic acid is proven to be a crucial factor in preventing neural tube birth defects, which is why it is recommended that all women of childbearing age take a folic acid supplement, and also why pregnant women need to take more than the general population.
Prenatal Vitamins Supplement, Not Replace a Balanced Diet
Any balanced diet will contain plenty of vitamins and minerals, but you should still take a prenatal vitamin to make sure that you are getting enough of the nutrients your body and your baby needs. Additionally, since prenatal vitamins are formulated with the idea that the person taking them is eating a healthy diet, there is no need to seek out additional vitamin supplements in any form, be it a pill, diet drink, or fortified smoothie. Be sure to let your doctor know if you use any of these products so you can be certain you are not getting too much of a good thing.
Over-the-Counter vs. Prescription Prenatal Vitamins
Prenatal vitamins are available over-the-counter or through a doctor’s prescription. Some people prefer to get their prenatal vitamins from a prescription because it increases the likelihood that the prenatal vitamins are high quality and, if you have particular dietary needs, a vitamin can be prescribed specifically for you.
If you choose to purchase your prenatal vitamins over-the-counter, it is very important to read labels so you know how many of which vitamins and minerals you are taking. As a general rule, look for a prenatal vitamin that contains folic acid, iron, calcium, and Omega-3 fatty acids. Other key nutrients to look out for are vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, and zinc. However, be aware that it is possible to have too many of some vitamins and minerals, such as Vitamin A, so make sure you know the appropriate dosages for you. Have a conversation with your obstetrician if you’re not sure.
Many diet and vitamin supplements that are sold at grocery and health food stores are not subject to the same kind of regulation and scrutiny as prescription prenatal vitamins. If you opt to buy yours over-the-counter, make sure you know what you are taking. It is always best to buy well-known brands from reputable stores.
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