Most pregnant women are extremely cautious about what they consume while they’re pregnant. Prospective mothers are told to watch what they eat, drink, and know which medications and supplements to avoid. But what about taking prenatal vitamins? There’s some mixed messaging out there regarding these vitamins.
While some may say that you don’t need to supplement with prenatal vitamins if you’re eating a balanced diet, experts typically agree that taking prenatal vitamins is beneficial to both you and your baby. Here are a few of the reasons why it’s important to add prenatal vitamins to your daily diet during pregnancy and how to choose the best option for your needs.
Closing nutritional gaps
Let’s face it: growing a person is hard work for your body! Your baby is consuming many of the nutrients that you get from your daily diet. While some experts may argue that a balanced diet will take the place of a prenatal vitamin supplement, sometimes eating well simply isn’t enough. Because your baby is developing and changing so rapidly, there will generally be some nutrients that you’re not getting enough of no matter how healthy you’re eating. The main reason is that many nutrients from your diet simply don’t absorb as well into your system as they would if you were taking a dietary supplement. Prenatal vitamins help you close any nutritional gaps and ensure that both you and your baby are getting the daily recommended amounts of essential nutrients. They are especially important if you are experiencing serious morning sickness throughout your pregnancy. Replacing the lost vitamins is essential for yours and your baby’s health.
Benefits of folic acid
Folic acid is a key nutrient for pregnant women. Supplementing with folic acid ensures that your baby’s spine and brain will develop properly in utero. Studies also suggest that folic acid helps significantly reduce the occurrence of neural tube defects (NTD), one of the most common birth defects in the world. Neural tube defects are those affecting the baby’s spine and brain. The side effects of NTDs are extreme, and can result in fetal paralysis or death. Choosing a prenatal vitamin with folic acid is critical for your baby’s healthy development, and an easy way to help protect against serious illness. Folates are the natural version of folic acid, it can be found in dark greens and deep colored fruits. This is a great way to boost your intake and help reduce the risk of problems in your pregnancy as well.
Adding a DHA supplement
We’ve all heard that DHA Omega-3 fatty acid is beneficial during pregnancy, but we may not know why it’s actually important. DHA actually helps to promote healthy fetal brain and eye development. Typically, this particular fatty acid is found in seafood, which most doctors recommend limiting during pregnancy due to growing concerns about mercury levels and other toxins in fish. What’s confusing is that many prenatal vitamins do not contain any DHA. Only a few brands on the market do. Chances are if you are pregnant, your obstetrician will suggest that you choose a prenatal supplement that has added DHA. Taking a DHA supplement will ensure that your baby is getting all the benefits of this essential Omega-3 fatty acid and none of the mercury.
In addition for these nutrients being helpful for your baby’s development, they are also great to keep you on track, not only in your pregnancy but in your overall health as well. Keeping your body healthy is not just for a healthy baby, but to make sure that you make it through in one piece as well. There are a lot of complications that can change your body and staying as healthy as possible will reduce or eliminate at least some of the risk.
It’s important to be cognizant of which foods, drinks, and medications you are consuming while you’re pregnant. But despite the mixed messages about prenatal vitamins, they are truly an important supplement for pregnant women. Taking a prenatal vitamin daily ensures that your developing baby is getting all of the essential nutrients needed for growth, and it helps keep you healthy as your body experiences changes during pregnancy.