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The Benefits of Pre-Natal Vitamins

December 02, 2010

Congratulations, you’re going to be a Mom!  For a mother's health, and the health of her baby, she is advised to take so-called ‘prenatal vitamins’ during pregnancy.

Your role as mother start begins before conception. Once you decide it is time to start trying to get pregnant you should immediately begin to prepare your body for pregnancy, and that means taking a high-quality prenatal vitamin. You need to be able to provide your growing baby with the healthiest environment to develop properly. This is the most effective way to help reduce the risks associated with pregnancy. A number of pregnancy complications can be prevented with good prenatal care, nutrition and a high quality prenatal vitamin.

Choose Your Vitamin Wisely

Multivitamin combinations can vary depending on the nutritional focus. For example, some manufacturers will create multivitamins that have a higher amount of iron than usual, targeting women who are prone to iron-deficiency anemia. While certain prenatal multivitamins are only available by a doctor’s prescription, many of them are available over the counter. Keep in mind that it is possible to jeopardize your baby’s (or your own) health by taking inappropriate amounts of synthetic vitamins, so be sure your health care provider is aware of any supplements you are taking.

Why do pregnant women need folic acid, iron and calcium?

Folic acid can reduce your risk of having a baby with a serious birth defect of the brain and spinal cord, called the ‘neural tube.’ A baby with spina bifida, the most common neural tube defect, is born with a spine that is not closed. The exposed nerves are damaged, leaving the child with varying degrees of paralysis, incontinence, and sometimes mental retardation.

Not all prenatal supplements are the same

Look for one that contains approximately:

•               4,000 and 5,000 IU (international units) of vitamin A

•               800 and 1,000 mcg (1 mg) of folic acid

•               400 IU of vitamin D

•               200 to 300 mg of calcium

•               70 mg of vitamin C

•               1.5 mg of thiamine

•               1.6 mg of riboflavin

•               2.6 mg of pyridoxine

•               17 mg of niacinamide

•               2.2 to 12 mcg of vitamin B-12

•               10 mg of vitamin E

•               15 mg of zinc

•               30 mg of iron

mg = milligrams

mcg = micrograms

Check with your doctor or midwife to advise you on which brands are right for you.  Prenatal vitamin can be purchased over-the-counter, however, in some cases, your health care provider will give you a prescription for a certain type.

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