What makes prenatal vitamins so special?
You’ve heard it over and over: keep a balanced diet. For sure, this is pivotal in any stage of life, and it’s definitely important to prioritize these during pregnancy. But supplemental vitamins (any pill, capsule, or gummy vitamins) are like nutrition insurance: they cover all the bases. Prenatal vitamins offer extra nutrients that other basic multivitamins may not or don’t contain enough of for pregnancy health.
The VIP nutrients for pregnancy include folic acid, calcium, iron, and iodine. Prenatal vitamins provide higher doses of these than your regular ol’ women’s daily vitamin have, and help our bodies have all the nutritional tools it needs to keep ourselves and baby healthy during pregnancy.
What do these vitamins do?
Everybody talks about how awesome folic acid is for pregnancy, but why? Folic acid guards baby’s brain and spinal cord from neural tube defects. Neural tube defects most often happen within the first month of pregnancy, when we might not even be aware that we’re pregnant. This is why doctors recommend women of any fertile age to get at least 400 mcg of folic acid every day, especially as about half of pregnancies are unplanned.
Foods like leafy greens, nuts, citrus fruits, and beans contain folic acid, but supplementing with a vitamin makes sure our body gets enough.
Calcium is already super important for us ladies, as our bones tend to get weaker as we age, but during pregnancy, baby is soaking up some of our calcium intake. To keep our own bones healthy as well as those of our growing kiddos, we can take prenatal vitamins to make up for that loss of calcium.
Calcium and vitamin D often team up in a multivitamin, as vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. Make sure whatever prenatal vitamin you’re using has both for maximum effect.
Iodine helps out the thyroid, which is especially important during pregnancy. Our babies rely on our thyroid hormones especially for the first three months of pregnancy. His or her thyroid won’t develop until 12 weeks, and then won’t produce enough thyroid hormones until weeks 18-20. A lack of iodine can stunt baby’s physical growth and lead to mental disabilities, deafness, or even stillbirth and miscarriage.
During pregnancy, we need about twice as much iron to make extra blood for Baby. Iron also helps carry oxygen from our lungs to the rest of the body, as well as to baby’s. Too little iron can cause anemia, leaving us feeling extra tired. Anemia can also lead to Baby being born underweight or premature.
Here’s a breakdown of typically recommended nutrients to look for in a prenatal vitamin:
- 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid.
- 400 IU of vitamin D.
- 200 to 300 milligrams (mg) of calcium.
- 70 mg of vitamin C.
- 3 mg of thiamine (B1).
- 2 mg of riboflavin (B2).
- 20 mg of niacin (B3).
- 6 mcg of vitamin B12.
- 10 mg of vitamin E.
- 15 mg of zinc.
- 17 mg of iron.
- 150 micrograms of iodine
Vitamins making you queasy?
Some women feel nauseous while take prenatal vitamins. If that’s you, talk to your doctor. He or she might be able to recommend a different brand that could be a better fit for you. Chewable or gummy vitamins sometimes go down easier. Taking vitamins right before bed or with meals can also help prevent an upset stomach.
Talk to your doc!
Always inform your doctor about any vitamins you’re taking. He or she might even give you a prescription for a certain type of prenatal vitamin, depending on your medical history. Taking too much or too little of a vitamin could be harmful to you and baby, so it’s always best to communicate about your diet and any vitamins or medications with your healthcare team.
Want to know more?
Lifeline Pregnancy Help Clinic offers services like prenatal education classes and ultrasounds at no cost. Our trained nurses help women every week get the info they need to take care of their body and baby during pregnancy and love to talk through any questions you have. Call 660-665-5688 or click below to make an appointment.
By Kath Crane