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Prenatal vitamins


What are prenatal vitamins? 


When a woman visits a doctor, because she is pregnant, or is planning to have a baby soon, she is usually asked to start taking “prenatal vitamins” for the better health of her baby. Of course, the use of prenatal vitamins during pregnancy is beneficial to the mother too, since they are specially formulated supplements that can help make up for nutritional deficiencies in a woman’s diet. There are several different types of prenatal vitamins that a doctor could advise a woman to take, based on her nutritional requirements. Most of the best prenatal vitamins are very high in Vitamins and minerals; however, the content of folic acid, iron and calcium in them is probably more important for pregnant women. 


Prenatal vitamins that contain folic acid are probably the first supplements that women are asked to take when they are pregnant. In fact, women who are planning to start their families are asked to take folic acid even before they get pregnant.

This is because folic acid can help reduce the chances of serious birth defects in a baby to a great extent. Mothers who suffered from folic acid deficiency during the course of their pregnancy were a lot more likely to give birth to babies with a severe birth defect known as “Neural Tube Defect” or Spina Bifida. This birth defect in babies occurs when their spine in not closed and the nerves are exposed. Because the exposed nerves are usually damaged, the child could suffer from incontinence, paralysis and mental retardation. Apart from taking prenatal vitamins that contain folic acid, pregnant women are also advised to increase their consumption of natural sources of folic acid, such as leafy green veggies, citrus fruits, nuts and beans. Several breakfast cereals have also been fortified with folic acid. The consumption of folic acid through foods could not really lead to an overdose, since the body’s requirement is much higher, which is why prenatal vitamins are required. However, it is imperative that a woman never adds any prenatal vitamins to her diet, without checking with a doctor, for recommended doses. 


The other prenatal vitamins that women are asked to take during the course of pregnancy, contain calcium and iron. Calcium is required by the mother as well as the baby. This is because the fetus is growing and developing every day, which includes the bone structure. Since the baby’s bones require minerals in order to grow properly, they absorb the calcium that is present in the mother’s body. Therefore, if the level of calcium is not increased in the form of a supplement, the mother could suffer from serious bone diseases and conditions. Iron is required by the mother’s body, as well as the baby’s since it helps carry the oxygen around. 


There are certain women who do not believe in taking prenatal vitamin pills, even when they are pregnant. They prefer opting for natural prenatal vitamins. Consuming higher amounts of foods for the required vitamins is hardly even sufficient to meet the body’s increasing demand. Moreover, while there are certain companies that claim to manufacture natural prenatal vitamins, studies indicate that some of them could have an adverse effect on the body. Therefore, it is best to take prenatal vitamins only after checking with a doctor. 


Submitted on January 16, 2014