In general most people do not take in the recommended amount of vitamins and minerals required by the body for optimum function.
When pregnant, a mother is going to need even more of these vitamins and minerals to cope with the extra demand from the baby to keep both of them healthy.
Vitamin supplements are a good, easy way to increase your intake. It is important, however, to realize that they are a supplement and should never be used in place of a balanced diet. Vitamins are absorbed easiest by the body when taken from natural food such as fruit and vegetables. The right amounts are not always possible and that is when supplements come into play.
Prenatal vitamins are different to normal multi-vitamins; they are designed to meet the needs of pregnant women so contain a slightly different mix of ingredients, including the 3 most important ones.
Calcium – calcium is important for the development of teeth and bones of a baby. If the mother’s blood does not contain enough calcium then the baby will draw calcium from the mother’s bones. While the baby will gets its share this will result in the mother being left with very low calcium of her own, which can lead to an early onset of osteoporosis (brittle bones) Take care to notice the level of calcium in the prenatal supplement you choose as some do not contain a high enough dosage.
Folic Acid – Folate or folic acid is important for the development of the baby’s spinal cord and brain. The body does not normally absorb folate easily, but today more cereals and breads are including folate to make it easier to get the necessary amounts
Iron – without enough iron the mother can become anaemic, with apart from leaving her feeling very tired and lethargic can lead to more serious health issues later on down the track. The baby also requires iron for the development of their blood cells.
Care does need to be taken with iron, as too much iron can also lead to health problems so be sure to check with your doctor on how much iron you need to be taking.
Some people find that taking these prenatal supplements can make them nauseous, especially if they start taking them after the morning sickness has hit them, and swallowing pills is the last thing their body will allow them to do.
There are a few things that can be tried.
Taking prenatal supplements before getting pregnant has several advantages. You can build up your vitamin levels and stores of things such as calcium and iron before you increase the need for them. Your body also has a chance to get used to taking them before you have the issue of morning sickness to deal with.
If however, you are already pregnant and not coping with your current prenatal supplement, you can try another brand. Ask your doctor or pharmacist to recommend another one for you.
Otherwise you can try taking them at a different time of day. Many people take prenatal supplements first thing in the morning, but this is normally the worst time for morning sickness. Try taking them before going to bed and always take them after eating something.
Prenatal vitamin supplements can be very important during pregnancy, and even before and after.
Deficiencies have the potential to lead to serious health problems for both the mother and newborn baby.