There’s so much to think about when preparing for a pregnancy. Getting your financials in order, clarifying work schedules with your spouse, readying the house for a little one, finding an obstetrician and pediatrician – it’s a lot to do in a short amount of time. So it’s not a surprise that many women, no matter where they are in their pregnancy journey, forget to take prenatal vitamins. While a surprising 97 percent of women who have been or are currently pregnant report taking prenatal vitamins during their pregnancy, only 34 percent said they started taking the prenatal vitamin before becoming pregnant. A mothers ring could be a great gift for your loved ones.
Prenatal vitamins are extremely important to take during pregnancy. Several of the nutrients in prenatal vitamins play a crucial role in a baby’s growth and development, including folic acid, iron, calcium, vitamin D, DHA, and iodine. This, in addition to a balanced diet, will help provide you and your baby with the vital nutrients needed to grow. While you receive these vitamins and minerals naturally through your diet, prenatal vitamins are intended to make sure you are getting enough of the nutrients to support both you and your baby. There are many prenatal vitamins available over-the-counter; just be sure to check the label and ask your doctor should you have any questions or concerns.
When Should I Start Taking A Prenatal Vitamin?
Prenatal vitamins contain plenty of vitamins and minerals that your body needs whether you’re pregnant or not. But if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant anytime soon, the time is now to begin your prenatal vitamin regime. Research suggests women begin their prenatal vitamin regime at least three months before conception, if at all possible. This extra time allows for the vitamins and minerals to build up and reach the most favorable levels. This will support your body as it changes through the next nine months of pregnancy, as well as the development of your baby. A prenatal vitamin can also support neural tube development and result in a healthy birth weight.
What Vitamins And Minerals Should I Look For In A Prenatal Vitamin?
Before purchasing any prenatal vitamins, it’s essential to look at the vitamin’s ingredients. These nutrients should be in their purest form, with little to no preservatives or additives. Some of the essential vitamins and minerals you should look for are:
- Omega-3 DHA: Omega-3 is a fatty acid that helps reduce the number of babies born early. It can also improve overall outcomes for both the mom and baby. Neural and retinal development are also boosted during pregnancy when taking omega-3s. Omega-3 is found naturally in food such as Atlantic salmon, cod fish, and tuna, but there must be a high level of consumption in order to reach the level desired for a healthy pregnancy.
- Folate: Folate is the active form of folic acid. Folate can help reduce the baby’s risk of having neural tube defects when taken appropriately. There are a large number of foods that naturally contain folate, including leafy green vegetables, Brussel sprouts, peas, fruits, tomato juice, eggs, beans, and grains.
- Magnesium: Magnesium during pregnancy can help reduce pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure and protein in the urine) and plays a vital role in nerve and muscle function.
- Vitamin K: Vitamin K is another essential protein that helps with blood clotting and the building of bones. Vitamin K is commonly found in green leafy vegetables, including kale, collard greens, broccoli, spinach, cabbage, and lettuce.
- Vitamin E: A multi-functional nutrient, vitamin E is important for vision, reproduction, and blood, brain, and skin health. It is an antioxidant that is also great for reducing inflammation. Shockingly, only one in five people meet the ideal levels of vitamin E.
- Boron: Boron is a mineral that can be acquired through food and the environment. It increases bone strength and can improve thinking skills and muscle coordination.
- Iron: Iron helps with many important bodily functions, such as energy, focus, gastrointestinal processes, and immune system support. Low iron levels can increase the risk of premature birth and low birth weight during pregnancy.
- Vitamin D: Is another multifunctional vitamin that helps with calcium and phosphorus absorption and normal immune system functions. Even in babies, vitamin D deficiency can lead to a loss of bone density, which can lead to fractures, breaks, and osteoporosis.
- Biotin: Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin that is usually known for its hair, skin, and nail benefits. While pregnant, biotin can help convert the food mom eats into energy.
- Iodine: Iodine helps with normal energy-yielding metabolism. It is found naturally in animal protein.
- Choline: Research shows that over 90 percent of women do not get enough choline from their diet. Getting enough choline helps the baby’s brain and spinal cord develop properly, as well as protect against neural tube defects.
- Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 helps with the development and function of the baby’s brain and spinal cord, as well as forming healthy red blood cells. Vitamin B12 also helps make DNA!
So while taking a prenatal vitamin is not necessarily required before pregnancy, there are many benefits to starting your prenatal routine before becoming pregnant. Not only is it great for the baby, but for the mother as well! Studies also show that many of these vitamins and minerals can benefit during lactation and breastfeeding, too. Prenatal vitamins offer fewer pills with critical nutrients that can make a world of a difference for you and your baby.