Like any other pregnant women, you may feel a mix of joy and worry about your pregnancy. Joy, because finally, you will have a little bundle of joy that will make your life complete. Worry, because you are thinking how you can take care of the little human burrito inside of you.
One way to nourish you and your little one inside of you until they come out is by taking prenatal vitamins and minerals.
But, just how important is it to take prenatal vitamins? Is it really necessary for pregnant women? What are the most important vitamins and minerals a pregnant woman should take? Are there any vitamin alternatives for a vegan pregnancy? Lastly, are there any risks if you don’t take any prenatal vitamins?
Why Prenatal Vitamins Are Important
If you ask doctors and other medical professionals, most of them would tell you to take prenatal vitamins during the course of your pregnancy. Such supplements provide more benefits for your developing baby than you think.
Experts recommend you start taking prenatal supplements two to three months prior to pregnancy. This means that you should take such supplements even if you are currently trying to conceive a baby. Of course, you should continue taking prenatal supplements in your succeeding month of pregnancy onwards.
Among important reasons why pregnant women should start taking prenatal vitamins and minerals include the following:
1. It will help increase the amount of folic acid.
Folic acid supplementation is crucial for fetal development. Folic acid also prevents birth defects such as spina bifida (a type of neural tube defects which result in mobility problems) as well as defects in brain development. That is why it is important to eat folate-rich foods and increasing the amount of folic acid intake to prevent these birth defects.
2. Helps prevent anemia and promote healthy growth in babies.
Most prenatal supplements also contain iron that helps prevent anemia, a condition where there is a low amount of red blood cells. In addition, prenatal vitamins also promote healthy growth on babies inside your tummy.
3. It contains omega-3 fatty acids for proper brain development.
Some prenatal vitamins do not contain omega-3 fatty acids. However, this type of vitamin is actually crucial for your baby’s brain development. You can get it by taking separate omega-3 acid supplements or eating omega-3 fatty acid-rich foods such as fish.
Essential Prenatal Vitamins You Need
Thankfully, most prenatal vitamins are available in most pharmacies and health stores near you. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe a specific brand that may be only available in certain health stores and shops. Nonetheless, it is up to you which brand of vitamins and minerals you will take for a healthy pregnancy.
To ensure a healthy and safe pregnancy for you and your baby, you should look for prenatal vitamins such as:
- Folic acid – prevents neural tube defects and other birth defects
- Iron – helps to prevent anemia and aids in the better circulation of oxygen in your body
- Calcium – reduces the risk of pre-eclampsia and hypertension, helps build strong teeth and bones for the baby, and promote the growth of healthy heart and muscles
- Vitamin C – acts as an antioxidant that helps protect cells from free radicals, and helps absorb iron into your body
- Vitamin D – helps regulate the amount of phosphate and calcium in your body for healthier bones, teeth, and muscles
- Vitamin E – helps lessen the risk of complications due to pregnancies, including pre-eclampsia
- Zinc – helps in cell division and growth of tissues, and promote baby’s proper development
- Iodine – promotes baby’s healthy brain development
- Copper – a type of trace mineral that is essential for the formation of red blood cells, and helps in baby’s brain and spinal cord development
- Choline –has been shown to help the baby’s brain cells to develop and function normally. It is found in some foods and also available in the prenatal supplement
While there are a lot of folic acid supplementation and other types of supplements available, you can also get these vitamins and minerals by eating a balanced and healthy diet during the succeeding month of pregnancy.
Vitamins For Vegan Pregnancy
Pregnant vegans/vegetarians may need special supplements and diet to ensure a healthy pregnancy. Because they don’t consume animal meat and by-products, vegan pregnancy should involve getting essential acid supplements from different sources such as plant-based products. However, you can still take other supplements mentioned above such as omega-3 fatty acid, folic acid supplements, zinc, iron, and many more.
Are There Risks of Not Taking Prenatal Vitamins?
On one hand, some ingredients in prenatal vitamins such as iron may cause constipation. To prevent this, you should drink lots of fluids, add fiber in your diet, and ensure to have a physical activity in your everyday routine (make sure you have the go-signal from your doctor).
In some cases where symptoms of constipation do not subside, your doctor may prescribe other types of folic acid supplements and prenatal vitamins and minerals. Nonetheless, everyone should start taking vitamins and minerals for a better overall health. As for women who are planning to get pregnant or are already pregnant, it is a must to start taking prenatal supplements as early as now for a healthier pregnancy ahead!