What to look for in a Prenatal Vitamin...and why it’s important
Although nothing can replace a solid diet, as you should be getting your nutrients via food-source, a good multivitamin is always recommended pre-during-post pregnancy. Since prenatal vitamins are typically packed with tons of extra nutrients, many women choose to take these year-round whether they are expecting or not. It is a wonderful compliment to an already balanced, nutritious diet. Of course if you’re lacking in the “balanced”, “nutritious” or “balanced and nutritious” part, then a good multivitamin is even more important for you and baby. There are many vitamins & minerals that aid in the growth & development of your little womb baby, as well as keep your own body fully operating as little guy/girl is taking from you.
Nutrients to look out for
Folic Acid : Recommended at 400 mcg/day: One of the more important ones to look out for, as this helps prevent defects of the brain and spinal cord, neural tub defects. Because this would have the biggest impact at the very beginning of the pregnancy, experts suggest beginning a prenatal vitamin before conception. You can get this from foods, specifically leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits & fortified cereals. However, folic acid in a supplement form is still highly recommended.
Iron : Recommended at 27 mg/day: During pregnancy, your body is producing more blood for the baby. Iron is used to produce these red blood cells in your body, as well as move oxygen throughout your body and to the placenta. If you are not taking in enough Iron to fuel this, you risk getting anemia and feeling extra tired and run down, as a result. This can also result in early labor and/or low birth weight. Foods you can also get more iron from would be beef, chicken, beans, spinach & fortified cereals. Did you know pairing a food source containing Iron with Vitamin C increases absorption. On the flip side, there are foods and drinks that can prevent proper Iron absorption. This includes coffee, tea, milk & whole grains. So skip the cup of coffee with your vitamin and opt for a glass of Orange Juice to get the most out of your vitamin!
Calcium & Vitamin D: Recommended at 1000mg/day & 5mcg/day: Your baby will take the nutrients it needs to grow…from you! The first place Calcium is taken from is bones/teeth, which can definitely make them weaker and not as healthy if there is no Calcium supplemented. Foods to get this from would be milk products, orange juice, tofu, salmon & kale, to name a few.
Omega 3: Recommended at 300mg/day, part DHA, part EPA: While some Multivitamins may have this in their formula, its typically not in large enough doses to account for the full recommendation. So it’s important to add this on as an additional supplement to your multi. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for many functions of the body including brain/cognitive development. Fish & nuts would be the main food source to get this from, but again, a supplemental Omega-3 is advised!
With the extra nutrients you’re taking in, plus crazy hormonal fluctuations, you may experience some side effects. Luckily it’s not a list of a 150 including anything so serious that can’t be fixed, but its enough where if you notice some, tell your doctor. It would include nausea, constipation, loss of appetite, cramps, vomitting. For me personally, with my first two pregnancies I would get nauseous after taking my multivitamin. An easy fix for that is to either try taking with food and if you’re like me where you already were, try taking it right before bed. That is what I had to do and it worked like a charm. Now, I’m taking a different multivitamin that gives me no side effects whatsoever. I do like this one because it’s made from whole foods and contains digestive enzymes, something that may be helping the nausea. If you’re not sure where to start, it’s always a good idea to ask your Doctor. The office should have samples to give you and try before committing to any one brand of vitamin.
While these are only just a select few vitamins & minerals to look for, these would be the key players of which you’d want to look out for to be sure you’re getting the right amount for yourself and your growing baby. Don’t be scared off by the potential side effects of the multivitamin, as there’s greater risk in not getting the right amount of nutrition!