How to Pick the Best Prenatal Supplements
Taking prenatal vitamins may seem redundant especially if you've been eating nutritious food during pregnancy. However, you may not be getting the essential nutrients for a healthy baby, delivery and post-partum. Pregnancy care involves prenatal supplements, they give you and your baby the nutritional needs in terms of development and growth.
Taking prenatal vitamins may seem redundant especially if you've been downing tons of nutritious food during pregnancy. However, you may not be getting the essential nutrients for a healthy baby, delivery and post-partum experience.
Pregnancy care involves prenatal supplements, and with good reason too. For one, they give you and your baby the nutritional needs in terms of development and growth.
Why Should You Take Prenatal Supplements?
Consider getting prenatal supplements the moment you learn you're going to have a baby. They can help you with the following:
Boost Your Nutritional Intake
It's near impossible to get all the good stuff, e.g., vitamins, minerals and nutrients in a day, let alone a single meal. When you're in early pregnancy, conditions such as morning sickness and lethargy get in the way.
Prenatal vitamins can serve to fill in the gaps left by your current diet, although it's recommended that you start eating healthy right away. This ensures that you and your baby meet your dietary requirements- for example, you'll need more vitamin D and good prenatal supplements will have them in optimal doses.
Reduce Severity of Morning Sickness
Studies have found that taking vitamin B6 can help curb nausea, or what's commonly known as morning sickness. Pregnant women are advised to consume 10mcg of the vitamin each day for a few weeks to lower the severity during the first trimester.
Prevent Birth Defects From Occurring
Most would-be-moms know that a prenatal contains vitamin B9, or folate (or folic acid), one of the most important components for good birth development.
This alone should convince you to start taking prenatal supplements. Research concludes that vitamin B12, when taken during early pregnancy has the power to greatly reduce health risks, such as congenital heart defects and neural tube defects, among others.
Also, taking prenatals can reduce the risks of autism spectrum disorder.
Lowers the Chances of Premature Birth
Lastly, if you want to have a healthy delivery then a prenatal supplement is a must-have. Taking them all throughout pregnancy has been linked to lower preterm birth risks, mostly due to vitamin B12 supplementation.
Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient that helps your baby grow to their normal weight and size.
What to Look For in a Prenatal Supplement
Not all prenatal vitamins are alike, with some being better than others.
The key factor in a good prenatal is one that contains all the right ingredients. What's more, they should have the dosage right in order to be effective.
Here are some of the most important ingredients a prenatal should have.
Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid)
The daily recommended B9 intake is between 400 to 600 mcg. Folic acid is such an important nutrient as it lowers the risk of neural tube defects, such as the one in the spinal cord and brain. In a perfect world, women would start taking folic acid three months prior to pregnancy, and more so if they've had a previous history of a neural tube defect.
Getting 400 to 600 mcg should suffice, but it's still good to supplement with natural foods that are rich in folate. For those who've had neural tube abnormalities before, it's recommended that you get around 4 milligrams of folic acid after getting approval from your doctor.
Aim for around 30 mg of iron daily to meet your needs. Iron is the building block for your baby's cells, and you'll need them during pregnancy as well.
It's not unusual to experience anemia as your pregnancy progresses, and more often than not your doctor will recommend an iron supplement in these situations. It's a beneficial compound as it helps deliver more blood (and oxygen) to the fetus and supports placental development as well.
Iodine plays a vital role in your baby's brain and thyroid development. However, it's a bit difficult to come by when you depend only on natural sources.
The AAP or American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 150mcg of iodine, and if it's not present in your chosen prenatal then consult with your doctor about getting a separate supplement.
2mg of vitamin B6 should stave off the dreaded morning sickness. It's worthy to note that most prescription drugs that combat morning sickness are made up of doxylamine and pyridoxine, or vitamin B6.
DHA or docosahexaenoic acid is an omega 3 fatty acid that's good for your baby's eyes and brain. Thankfully, it's a staple in most prenatal vitamin products out there.
Flax seeds, walnut and salmon are all good sources of DHA. You'll need to get anywhere between 8 to 12 ounces, or two to three servings of DHA each week. If supplementing, aim for around 200 to 300 mg of DHA daily.
Pregnant women should get 1,000 mg of calcium daily. It's fairly easy to acquire them from natural sources- opt for yogurt, milk, orange, kale, broccoli and similar foods to get healthy bones and prevent loss during pregnancy.
Specific Prenatal Vitamin Recommendations
Some women have a hard time swallowing a pill. If this is the case, you'll want something that's easier to drink- a smaller capsule or one that doesn't have calcium (since it makes up most of a prenatal's bulk. Also, there are liquid and chewable options if you want to make sure you won't put it back out.
For women who are always nauseous and experience constant morning sickness, try taking the supplement with a meal or snack. You may want to pick a supplement that has more vitamin B6 to curb nausea.
For those who are having issues with gas, diarrhea or constipation, it could be caused by too much iron in your diet. If this is the case then you'll want to pick a slow-release alternative or make a conscious effort to get more fiber and water.
For vegans and vegetarians, consult with your doctor so he or she could recommend an appropriate diet that goes well with your lifestyle.
More importantly, don't go beyond the recommended dosage as it could prove to be harmful for you and your baby's health in the long run.
Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Sara Gale
Sara loves traveling and exploring new places with her family. She is mom to 2 lovely children and loves bringing them out on adventures.