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Prenatal vitamins for a healthy pregnancy

Prenatal vitamins for a healthy pregnancy

Prenatal vitamins are helpful for a healthy pregnancy .

Written by Dr Anitha Anchan |Updated : September 25, 2015 6:07 PM IST

A healthy diet is essential to prepare you for pregnancy. It can help improve your chances of conception. And once you get pregnant, a diet which gives you complete nutrition, giving you the adequate amount of proteins, minerals and micronutrients can help boost your baby s growth and keep your healthy. You can benefit with additional supplementation of micronutrients too.

What are prenatal vitamins?

Prenatal vitamins are multivitamin-mineral supplements that are meant to be taken before and during pregnancy. They are also intended to be taken during post-delivery lactation. They are not intended to replace a healthy diet.

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These supplements are helpful for a healthy pregnancy. They contain different amounts of vital nutrients in amounts better suited to fulfil the needs of a pregnant woman. They usually contain higher amounts of folic acid and iron and some vitamin A. They may also contain vitamins D, C and E, and minerals calcium, zinc, iodine and copper. Some may have omega-3 fatty acid (DHA) included in them.

Why do you need to take them?

Your requirement of some essential vitamins and minerals increases during pregnancy. But often these requirements are not met adequately. The nutritional gaps in your diet may be covered by supplementation with prenatal vitamins to ensure better health and development of the baby.

1. During pregnancy, folic acid requirement increases and hence one needs to depend on its supplements and other foods rich in it. Folic acid is one supplement that every pregnant woman is asked to take diligently during pregnancy. It does a great deal of good to both mother and baby alike. It boosts blood circulation and lowers the chances of gestational anaemia by helping in blood cells production in the mother. It also helps to combat pregnancy-induced fatigue and tiredness. It reduces the chances of intrauterine growth retardation in the baby. Folic acid is essential for foetal brain and spine development. Supplementation is important during preconception and early pregnancy phase because this is when the foetus develops spine and nerve cells. Ideally, it should be taken along with B12 supplements for optimum absorption. Vitamin B 12 also plays an important role in the mother s and child s wellbeing during pregnancy.

2. Iron is particularly required during pregnancy when the development of the baby is solely dependent on the mother s iron supplies. Taking iron supplements during pregnancy can reduce the risk of anaemia and low birth weight.

3. The baby inside your womb uses your calcium for its own bone growth. Calcium and vitamin D prevent your bone loss and help in growth and strengthening of baby's bones. Calcium supplementation also reduces the risk of preeclampsia, a potentially life-threatening disorder diagnosed by an increase in blood pressure and protein in the urine.

4. According to a study, women who take iodine supplements before and during pregnancy are likely to have kids with higher IQ and better health.

5. Prenatal vitamins with omega-3 fatty acids may be advised for women who not eat omega-3 fatty acid rich foods like fish, etc. These fatty acids are necessary for baby's brain development.

What happens if you don't take them?

An inadequate amount of the vital nutrients can cause birth defect in babies, like, a dysfunction in the brain or the spinal cord. Lack of folic acid in the diet can lead to various deficiencies in the baby and other complications related to growth and development. Deficiency can lead to neural tube defects or malformation of the spine in the developing baby known as spina bifida it has a life-long impact on the child. Lack of vitamin B12 results in nerve damage and low birth weight among new-born.

A new research has found a link between prenatal vitamin A deficiency and postnatal airway hyper responsiveness. Short-term deficit of vitamin A while the lung is forming can cause profound changes in the smooth muscles that surround the airways.

A deficiency in iodine can lead to miscarriage and stillbirth. Severe iodine deficiency during pregnancy can cause substantial mental impairment and delayed development in children. Iodine deficiency in pregnancy remains the leading cause of preventable retardation worldwide. Even mild iodine deficiency during pregnancy is associated with children with lower IQs.

Low calcium intake during pregnancy has been associated with reduced bone mineral content in new-borns, decreased foetal femur bone length and reduced maternal bone mass in pregnant adolescents. According to a study, women who are deficient in vitamin D in the first 26 weeks of their pregnancy may be at risk of developing severe preeclampsia.

What to do if you throw up after taking your prenatal vitamins?

Prenatal vitamins may be nauseating and make some women throw up. If your prenatal vitamins are making you feel nauseated try to take them with a snack to minimize stomach upset or at night before you go to bed. Missing one day is okay. Compensate by eating lots of healthy food. But if you are not able to keep your supplements down talk to your doctor for other options. These vitamins and iron supplements are prescribed to you to meet the requirements and you can t do without them. Your doctor may prescribe a different kind or a different form of the supplement like syrups, chewable, etc.

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