Why Is It Important To Take Prenatal Vitamins?

Good nutrition is a vital consideration at any time of a person’s life, but when you are planning to conceive a new life, it’s especially important that you make sure your body is receiving adequate vitamins and minerals. Prenatal vitamins help to prepare your body for pregnancy and to support the life that will be growing inside you.

Prenatal vitamins are preparations that contain the recommended intake of folic acid, calcium and iron for women who are trying to conceive or who are pregnant. Pregnant women require more than twice the usual amount of folic acid, or folate, and around 50% more iron than normal. Maintaining adequate levels of calcium is also vital.

Generally, it is hoped that most women will obtain appropriate nutrition from the foods they eat, although iron is an element for which supplementation is usually important. In the second and third trimester, a pregnant woman’s diet is unlikely to provide adequate levels of iron.

Folic acid (folate) should be taken for a minimum of three months before conception. Combined with a B group vitamin, not only before pregnancy, but during, significantly reduces the possibility of neural tube defects such as spina bifida. This condition can develop in an embryo very early in pregnancy and as such, the woman may not even know she is carrying a fetus yet.

Always consult with your health professional before beginning a course of supplements. If you are taking other medications, there is a chance that your prenatal vitamins could interact negatively with them. Your doctor will recommend a dosage for you after taking blood tests to determine your iron levels. Multiple pregnancies may require specific combinations of vitamins and minerals. Your doctor may also suggest particular brands of prenatal vitamins.

Taking vitamin supplements does not guarantee that your intake of essential vitamins and minerals will be sufficient. Eating well and enjoying a balanced diet is still the best way to keep up your supplies of essential elements. Never consider vitamin pills as a substitute for a good, healthy diet. Besides, they don’t taste nearly as good as cheese, vegetables and fruit!

Be sure to take your prenatal vitamins as directed, not just by your physician, but by the instructions on the bottle. Iron, for example, is best absorbed when taken between meals, and its absorption is hindered by caffeine so avoid taking within one hour of drinking tea or coffee. The directions on the bottle will give suggestions about the best time of day to take them.