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Take Prenatal Vitamins for Important Nutrients During Pregnancy

Taking prenatal vitamins and eating foods that contain essential nutrients and vitamins are important for bringing a healthy baby to life. Eating healthy foods works well for mothers and babies who grow well during pregnancy, but taking certain vitamins is important to ensure that the baby has everything it needs to grow and develop properly. Even for someone who eats well, taking vitamins will give the body what it needs.

Key Ingredients in Pranatal Vitamins

While prenatal vitamins typically contain about a dozen individual vitamins, the four most important include folic acid, calcium, iodine, and iron.

  • Folic acid, which is found in green leafy vegetables, nuts, nuts, citrus fruits and enriched foods, is essential to prevent neural tube birth defects of the brain and spinal cord. As this system develops early and about 50% of pregnancies are unplanned, any pregnant woman should take about 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid daily, even before pregnancy. This should be continued for at least the first 12 weeks of pregnancy and during breastfeeding. Nursing mothers should continue to take them during breastfeeding.

  • Calcium keeps a woman's bones strong, as the baby takes calcium from the mother to develop her own bones.

  • Iodine helps maintain proper and essential thyroid function to prevent deafness, severe mental disabilities, and unstable physical growth. Iodine deficiency can lead to miscarriage or stillbirth.

  • Iron enriches the blood of mothers and babies with oxygen, and promotes growth and development.

What Should You Find in Pranatal Vitamins?

The appropriate prenatal vitamins may include:

  • 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid
  • 400 IU vitamin D
  • 200 to 300 milligrams (mg) of calcium
  • 70 mg of vitamin C
  • 3 mg tiin
  • 2 mg riboflavin
  • 20 mg niasin
  • 6 mcg of vitamin B12
  • 10 mg of vitamin E
  • 15 mg zinc
  • 70 mg of iron
  • 150 micrograms of iodine

These vitamins are available over the counter. Because different brands vary in the amount of specific ingredients, it is important to read the labels carefully to buy the best ones. In some cases, your provider may recommend certain brands, write prescriptions for some people, or offer guidelines. Some OTC brands may give too much or too little of a particular vitamin and may vary in consistency and quality. Your provider may also recommend that you take folic acid or other supplements separately, so as not to increase the concentration of other vitamins such as A, which can be toxic to the fetus in large quantities. For example, if you have given birth to a baby with neural tube defects, your provider may prescribe up to four milligrams of folic acid before and during the next pregnancy.

Side Effects of Pranatal Vitamins

While it is important to take prenatal vitamins, some women find that taking pills makes them tired and constipated. In this case, your provider may suggest that you buy a different brand of vitamins, use a starch softener, take vitamins with a snack, or switch to liquid, gentle chewing, or a soft gel form of the product. She may want you to take separate folic acid, calcium with vitamin D, or iron supplements if nothing else is for you.

If you are pregnant, taking prenatal vitamins is important to your health and to your unborn baby. Your doctor or midwife at the Rocky Mountain Women's Health Center will discuss your options and explain the importance of prenatal vitamins in fetal development to keep babies healthy.


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