Prenatal vitamins offer multiple benefits for expectant moms or women trying to conceive. While most doctors highly recommend taking prenatal vitamins, you may still be unsure of how your body will benefit from these supplements while you are pregnant. Of course, babies can still be born healthy if you don’t take prenatal vitamins, but why not boost your health and that of your baby when it’s so easy to do so? Prenatal vitamin supplements contain several important nutrients, each with its own unique benefit. Read below to learn more about these benefits.
Benefits of Prenatal Vitamins: Which Vitamins to Take?
In this article:
- Folic Acid Benefits
- Iron Benefits
- DHA Benefits
- Calcium Benefits
- Other Vitamin/Mineral Benefits
- Still Not Sure?
1. Folic Acid Benefits
Folic acid is another term for Vitamin B9 or folate. If you don’t take other supplements during your pregnancy, take folic acid. Folic acid is vital for fetal development, but when you’re pregnant it’s difficult to get enough of it through food alone. (Leafy greens are your best bet, if for some reason the pill is too difficult for you to take.)
As your baby grows, he or she needs enough folic acid to promote brain development. Too little can lead to mental deficiencies. Folic acid is also important for healthy spines, as it helps prevent birth defects such as spina bifida, a backbone defect that interferes with walking.
2. Iron Benefits
Iron helps your body make healthy blood cells. You’ll need more of it when you’re pregnant. An adequate iron supply fights iron-deficiency anemia, which is the kind of anemia that makes expectant mothers feel run down and fatigued. Also, iron helps ward off colds and other illnesses. It does this by boosting a pregnant woman’s lowered immunity.
For your baby, iron is a building block for healthy cell development and a strong heartbeat. Taking iron supplements can decrease the odds of miscarriage or stillbirth.
3. DHA Benefits
Omega-3 fatty acids are also called DHA. This nutrient is found in fatty fish. However, pregnant and nursing women often cut back on fish because of its mercury content. This precaution makes taking a DHA supplement even more important.
DHA promotes proper development of your baby’s eyes, brain, and nervous system. Omega-3s are passed on to babies both in the womb and through nursing after birth. Your doctor may recommend taking prenatal DHA both before and after birth.
4. Calcium Benefits
Most women are familiar with calcium’s role in preserving their own teeth and bones. However, calcium is also crucial during fetal development. Calcium will help your baby’s bones grow properly during the fetal stage. It also provides the “building blocks” for the baby’s teeth. The mineral is essential for proper blood clotting.
The calcium you receive from regular food tends to your baby first. For this reason, prenatal calcium is important for your own health as well as your baby’s. Not getting enough of this mineral can weaken your bones and teeth; these body parts are already strained by the extra weight you’re carrying. For example, foot fractures are not uncommon among pregnant women. You may also be more prone to dental cavities.
5. Other Vitamin/Mineral Benefits
Folic acid, calcium, iron, and DHA are crucial for mom’s and baby’s health, but other vitamins and minerals play an important prenatal role. That’s why they’re usually included in most prenatal vitamin blends.
Vitamin D works in conjunction with calcium to develop your baby’s bones and teeth and to protect your own, while zinc and Vitamin C boost your immune system when you’re feeling exhausted and prone to illness. This immunity-boosting quality is crucial for pregnant mothers because they can’t take any fever reducers or painkilling medications.
Vitamin B6 is also a supplement worth taking. In early pregnancy, it helps control nausea. Later, B6 helps build your baby’s blood cells, immune system, and nervous system.
How will you know which supplement to take? Your blood tests, while pregnant, will reveal whether you’re deficient in other nutrients. If you are, your doctor may want you to change your diet or recommend that you take extra supplements.
Still Not Sure If You Should Take Prenatal Vitamins?
Don’t just take our word for it. If you’re in doubt, pay your obstetrician a visit and ask her about the benefits of prenatal vitamins. For your health and that of your baby, you must know which supplements to take and which you can do without. Either way, the supplements make it easy for you and your baby to get the nutrients you both need, which is especially important during times of morning sickness or fatigue. When you don’t have the appetite to eat, these supplements will prove invaluable.
Here’s a video by utexasCNS on the science of prenatal vitamins:
You might be concerned about the side effects of prenatal pills. Some women also have trouble swallowing large pills. Whatever your worry is, it’s important that you discuss it with your obstetrician. What matters most is ensuring that you and your baby have enough nutrients to enjoy the benefits of prenatal vitamins and to remain healthy throughout your pregnancy.
Do you know of other benefits of prenatal vitamins? Let us know in the comments section below.
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