prenatal vitamins

Most mummies-to-be need to take prenatal vitamins, even if they follow a balanced diet and have the healthiest habits.

If you plan on getting pregnant anytime soon, you should stock up on such vital nutrients and minerals in order to help promote your baby's development in the best way possible.

Do you need guidance on prenatal vitamins? If so, don't miss this post, in which you'll learn why they are so important and which ones may work best for you.

Why do I need prenatal vitamins?

Prenatal vitamins have a wide range of benefits, especially if you start taking them daily even before conceiving. Sure you'll like to hear that they can: 

  • Prevent birth defects: yes, that's how important prenatal vitamins are. Among their multiple perks, you have to know that they can help reduce birth anomalies, like the ones caused by neural tube defects (they affect the brain and the spinal cord). In addition, prenatal vitamins may keep your baby from being too small when he leaves the womb.

  • Increase fertility: not only do they ensure your baby's healthy development, but they also boost your chances of getting pregnant when trying to conceive.

  • Reduce morning sickness: are you fearing nausea and vomiting? Well, this is hands down such an unpleasant pregnancy symptom that no woman will enjoy. Fortunately, experts state that prenatal vitamins may lower morning sickness effects, with fewer episodes than expected during the first trimester.

Making good choices 

Which prenatal vitamins do I need? Though that depends on your individual needs, in other words, providing your organism with the right nutrients, there are a few compounds that you should look for no matter what:

  • Folic acid (400 mcg): You should start taking folic acid as soon as conceiving plans are made. This is exactly the prenatal vitamin that dramatically reduces the risks for your baby to have spina bifida or anencephaly, the two most common neural tube defects. You should combine folic acid vitamins with a pregnancy diet full of folate-rich foods, including fruits, vegetables and grain products.

  • Iron (27 mg): this mineral supports the baby's growth, and that's why you need to take it in such high dosages. It also prevents you from having anemia in pregnancy, a very usual condition among expectant mummies. It's found in red meat, pork, poultry and dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, among others.

  • Vitamin D (600 IU): it's pretty normal for women to lack vitamin D, so expect to have it included in your list of prenatal vitamins. Take it along with calcium (300 mg) in order to boost your baby's bones growth, which will strengthen during the third trimester. Such a combination will keep you strong too! You can also get vitamin D out of eating fatty fish, like tuna, beef liver, dairy products and egg yolks.

  • Iodine (150 mcg): taking a daily supplement of this mineral is highly recommendable as well, since it fosters your future baby's brain and thyroid development. Cranberries, sea vegetables and organic yoghurt are great sources of iodine.

  • Vitamin B6 (1.9 mg): this prenatal vitamin, which is found in many foods like eggs, beans and lean meats, will become your best ally when facing nausea and vomiting.

  • Vitamin C (85 mg): Having a lot of vitamin C is essential for you, because it supports your immune system and, at the same time, it helps your body absorb iron. It's safe for your baby up to 2.000 mg, and you can benefit from it out of citrus fruits as well.

  • Zinc (11mg): it ensures a normal cell division, while it is also beneficial for your immune system. Don't miss out on the chance to enjoy yummy oysters and beef, which have plenty of zinc.

  • Copper (0.9mg): this chemical element supports nerve, bone and immune systems, and it plays an important role in the blood cells forming process. Dark chocolate, liver, seafood and sesame seeds can provide you with extra dosages.

“Doctor, help me out!”

Sorting out this kind of information isn't easy for somebody who's not familiar with such  compounds. That's why, before going to the chemist's, you need to sit down and talk to your doctor. You may even have preliminary tests to see what you lack the most and, as a result, which specific vitamin dosages would be the most appropriate for you. Once you have it all figured out, then yes, you can start taking your daily supplements.

While you are discussing prenatal vitamins with the doctor, you should bring up the idea of adding Omega-3 to the antenatal diet. Prenatal vitamins don't contain these fatty acids, which are found in certain fish and are linked to improving a baby's brain and protecting the little one from food allergies and eczema. Ask your doctor if you can take Omega-3 supplements, in case you are not getting the right amount of them out of eating fish.

In short, prenatal vitamins aren't just a 'complement'... or, even worse, a trend! They do offer many advantages, as long as you don't exceed healthy dosages and you follow your doctor's advice when it comes to picking the right ones. That being said, remember that keeping a healthy diet is another way to get the necessary nutrients for your body, but there are times when we need to let science give us a helping hand.