Prenatal vitamins are specifically formulated multivitamins that are intended to cater for nutritional deficiencies in pregnant women. Prenatal vitamins mainly contain B-vitamins, folic acid calcium, iron and other minerals required during pregnancy. We are now going to look at the specific functions of the major constituents of pregnancy vitamins:
Folic Acid For Pregnancy
Folic acid plays an important role in reducing the risks of serious birth defects of the spinal cord and brain (neural tube defects). A common neural tube defect is spina bifida where a child is born with an open spine. The unclosed spine exposes the child’s nerves which become damaged and thus leave the child paralyzed and at times with mental retardation. It is recommended that women start to take 400 micrograms folic acid daily when trying to conceive and continue to do so up until 12 weeks of pregnancy. Neural tube defects are said to occur mostly within the first 28 days of pregnancy, thus taking folic acid during this period reduces the chances of your child being affected.
Calcium For Pregnancy
Calcium is essential during pregnancy as it prevents the mother from losing bone density since the fetus will also be demanding the same mineral for its own bone growth. Women that are planning to get pregnant are encouraged to take 200 – 300 mg calcium before and during pregnancy to reduce bone fragility.
Iron For Pregnancy
Iron is used in the synthesis of hemoglobin which is an oxygen carrier. A sufficient supply of iron ensures that a developing fetus get ample supply of oxygen including the mother.
Pregnant women are encouraged to derive their nutritional requirements from a healthy diet, supplements can however be used to fortify availability of nutrients. The following nutrient levels that can be found in some pregnancy vitamins:
6 micrograms vitamin B12
70 mg vitamin C
400 IU vitamin D
400 micrograms folic acid
200 – 300 mg calcium
3 mg thiamine
2 mg riboflavin
20 mg niacin
15 mg zinc
17 mg iron
The above concentrations of vitamins and minerals are just a guideline of what you can expect from prenatal vitamins. Prenatal vitamins from different companies will have different vitamin and mineral combinations at different concentrations. The kind of pregnancy vitamins you choose to use depends on preference or doctors advice. Your doctor may advise you to take specific pregnancy vitamins. When taking pregnancy vitamins make sure to keep an eye on the concentrations of each vitamin and mineral so as to ensure that all concentrations fall within the recommended levels by the FDA.
It is possible for a pregnant woman to respond negatively to prenatal vitamins. Pregnancy vitamins may also cause side effects in some women. It is therefore important to consult your doctor immediately when you suspect any health complications that may have been brought about by pregnancy vitamins. Your doctor will be able to device the root cause of the problem and if necessary he/she may prescribe you a different kind of prenatal vitamin supplement.