A well-balanced supplementation program helps to ensure optimum health among pregnant women. Because of their hectic schedules, pregnant women rely on prenatal vitamins to ensure the nutritional needs of a healthy pregnancy. With the right prenatal vitamins, both the mother and the baby reduce their risk of suffering the consequences of mineral deficiency, which could impede the fetus’ development.
For women who are tuned into nutrition and are in the habit of eating a broad range of foods, their diet can deliver many of the essential nutrients needed for a healthy pregnancy. However, realistically, a healthy diet alone cannot provide everything that the body needs. This is especially true for pregnant women who are carrying multiples, such as twins or triplets. Hence, pregnancy vitamins serve as the insurance policy that ensures that pregnant women get the nutrition that they need.
Pregnancy vitamins work in a similar way to any other multi-vitamins. However, pregnancy supplements have special requirements. They are usually focused on three essential nutrients: folic acid, calcium, and iron.
Getting enough folic acid helps to prevent or significantly reduce the risk of birth defects, particularly in the brain and spinal cord or neural tube. This minimizes the danger of leaving the child with varying degrees of paralysis, incontinence, and mental disability or cognitive disorders. Calcium is an essential nutrient that helps a pregnant woman maintain normal bone density while the fetus uses her calcium “reserves” for bone growth. Iron is what ensures that both the mother and the baby have enough oxygen in the blood. Therefore, deficiencies of these three essential nutrients pose serious health risks for both the mother and the baby.
Pregnancy vitamins also contain a combination of several other helpful nutrients. Vitamin C supports the proper growth of the baby, aids tissue repair and healing, and builds strong bones and teeth. It also plays a significant role in the absorption of iron. B vitamins are recommended in increasing B6 levels, which helps boost the immune system and prevents neural tube defects, especially during the first trimester, which is a crucial developmental phase for the baby. Vitamins B1 and B2 hastens the body’s ability to process carbohydrates, fat, and protein. They are important in compensating for the increased demand for energy in a pregnant woman’s body.
Also, vitamin B5 is essential for regulating the body’s adrenal activity and antibody production. Lack of it may slow down the development of the baby in the womb. Vitamin B6 is vital for the fetus’ brain development, and vitamin B12 helps maintain normal nerve functions of the baby. Biotin helps lower the risk of birth defects; zinc boosts immunity and defense against free radicals, and magnesium promotes healthy bones and optimum blood pressure.
While pregnancy vitamins provide all the needed nutrients, vitamins alone will do no good. A combination of vitamins and a well-balanced diet is the best approach. Pregnancy supplements do not contain any essential fatty acids. DHA and Omega 3 fatty acids play crucial roles in the development of your baby’s brain, nerve, and eye tissue. These nutrients can only be sourced from foods such as trout, salmon, and other cold-water fish as well as dairy products. If you are taking medications, these vitamins may interact with the drugs you are taking and might cause serious health concerns. It would be best to consult your primary care physician or obstetrician before starting a prenatal vitamin supplement.