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How to Choose Prenatal Vitamins

As a pregnant woman, your highest concern should be for you and your baby to stay healthy. While lifestyle adjustments such as exercising, eating healthy diets, and quitting smoking are crucial to having a healthy and low-risk pregnancy, you also need to take prenatal vitamins. These vitamins are specially formulated to substitute those nutrients that might be deficient during pregnancy. Multivitamins are of the utmost importance for pregnant women and it is even advisable to start taking them the moment you start trying to conceive.

Folic acid and iron are some of the vitamins that are often recommended for pregnant women. According to research, folic acid is important because it helps in the prevention of neural tube defects including brain and spinal cord abnormalities. For optimal efficacy, it is recommended that women start taking folic acid three months before they conceive. Meanwhile, iron on the other hand is crucial for pregnant women because it is used to make more blood cells that in turn supplies oxygen and nutrients to the fetus. Moreover, if you take iron while pregnant, your risk of becoming anemic will be low.

Apart from iron and folic acid, there is a broad variety of other prenatal vitamins, most of which can be bought over the counter. Although your health care provider may likely recommend a suitable vitamin for you, you could as well choose one for yourself. If you decide to go for the second option, you need to consider a few things.

  • Go for prenatal vitamins that contain essential vitamins such as calcium, zinc, iodine, and vitamins A, B, E, and D. Calcium is particularly important because it promotes the development of healthy bones and teeth for both you and your baby.
  • Go for vitamins that match your circumstances. For example, if you have previously had a baby with neural tube defects such as Spina bifida and spinal cord syndrome, you may need a separate supplement that contains higher doses of folic acid, which you should start taking before you even get pregnant.

That said, you need to avoid taking any prenatal vitamins in excess because this could also result in adverse side effects. High doses of certain vitamins like vitamin A may instead harm your unborn baby. While you are taking these vitamins, you also need to be conscious about eating right. You need omega-3 fatty acids, which can be naturally obtained from food sources like fresh fish, to promote the development of your baby’s brain. If your doctor deems it alright, he could also prescribe omega-3 fatty acid supplements for you to take alongside your prenatal vitamins.

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