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by admin on December 22, 2010

The Importance of Prenatal Vitamins Before Pregnancy

If you are thinking about getting pregnant in the near future, now is the time to make sure you are preparing your body to handle the demands of pregnancy, and provide the most optimal outcomes for you and your baby. Multivitamins should be considered for all pregnant women,” wrote lead author Wafaie Fwzi in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The March of Dimes emphasizes how important it is to eat a balanced diet to get most of the nutrients you need, and those who cannot get these essential nutrients through diet may need to take a supplement. Women who have dietary restrictions, or certain health issues, or women who are vegetarians, or vegans, as well as lactose-intolerant may fit into this category.

Benefits

The National Women’s Health Information Center recommends taking prenatal vitamins three months before conception. Once you begin taking a prenatal vitamin you need to make sure that it contains at least 300-400 mcg of folic acid in it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have stated that women who begin taking the recommended amount of folic acid at least one month before they get pregnant, decrease their baby’s risk of developing neural tube defects by 50-70%.

Not only will prenatal vitamins decrease the risk of your baby developing some birth defects, but they will help support the nutritional needs of your baby from day one.  According to the American Pregnancy Association folic acid (helps prevent neural tube defects), calcium (aids in development of the nervous, circulatory, and muscular systems) and iron (aids in growth of baby and muscles and helps prevent preterm labor) in particular are necessary for the baby’s proper growth and development. This is because the majority of organ development in your baby occurs in the first trimester, when most women don’t even know they are pregnant yet.

Taking a multivitamin during pregnancy may actually increase the birth weight of your baby. An estimated 20 million children worldwide are born below 2500 grams.

Low birth weight has been associated with increased risks of adverse health outcomes, including neonatal and infant mortality, poor growth and cognitive development, and a higher risk of developing chronic diseases later in life, such as diabetes and heart disease.

What Should I Look For In a Prenatal Vitamin?

When looking for the right prenatal vitamin, choose products that not only contain the essential vitamins and minerals you need, but also have increased levels of things such as folic acid and vitamin D, as well as components that will boost your immunity, and help with brain and heart development.

A new study, by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health and Muhimbili University College of Health Sciences in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania found that “Multivitamins, including B vitamins and antioxidant vitamins C and E, may lead to better birth outcomes in several ways. By enhancing maternal nutritional status and immunity during pregnancy, multivitamins may reduce the risk of intrauterine infections,” wrote the researchers.

Warning

Although it is important to ensure you are getting the proper vitamins and minerals that are necessary to support a healthy pregnancy, getting too much can be dangerous. Too much vitamin A in the first seven of pregnancy may increase the risk of your baby developing birth defects according to a study done by The New England Journal of Medicine. Because some recommendations are different during pregnancy than not being pregnant, consult with your healthcare provider to avoid consuming toxic levels of some vitamins.


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