If you are pregnant or are planning to become pregnant, you probably know that it is important for you to get plenty of folic acid. Folic acid helps to reduce brain and spinal defects in your baby, especially in early pregnancy. What you may not know is how important it is to take multivitamins, as well.
A study, recently published in the medical journal Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention, noted the importance of taking multivitamins if trying to conceive or newly pregnant. Their research concluded that women who take multivitamins in early pregnancy reduced their child’s risk of developing certain brain tumors.
Should I Take Prenatal Vitamins Myself?
Researchers found that women taking multivitamins close to the time they conceived had babies who were less likely to develop medulloblastoma and primitive neuroectodermal brain tumors. Brain tumors are fairly rare in children, occurring in 1 in 20,000 kids under the age of six. Medulloblastoma is the second most common brain tumor in children.
The study at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia compared 315 children with brain tumors to 315 randomly chosen healthy children. Researchers called each mother and asked if they had been taking multivitamins before or after conception. The findings were slightly significant , yet they were comparable to a study conducted in 1993 by a different group.
Interestingly, taking a multivitamin during the later stages of pregnancy did not significantly reduce the infant’s risk of developing brain tumors. This makes it all too clear that if you are trying to get pregnant, you should begin taking your multivitamins right away. Then continue with the approval of your physician at least through the early stages of your pregnancy.
Women are strongly urged to choose a multivitamin with 400 micrograms of folic acid. Reproductive women should eat healthy foods with plenty of vitamins and folic acid.
When choosing your vitamin, check its vitamin A content. Never take more than 770 micrograms of Vitamin A. Too much can cause birth defects in babies.
You should also look on the label for the letters USP. This means the vitamin has been evaluated and meets certain criteria by the U.S. Pharmacopeia Organization. Vitamins with a USP stamp have certain standardized levels of purity, safety, quality and content.
Your OB/GYN will help you choose a pre-natal vitamin before you even get pregnant. So good luck if you are trying to conceive, and take that multivitamin for both you and your baby!
What are Prenatal Vitamins?
The vitamin aisle at your local pharmacy contains a huge assortment of vitamins for different genders and ages. Prenatal vitamins are specifically geared toward women thinking about becoming pregnant or who are pregnant.
The concept behind prenatal vitamins is that some of a women’s nutritional and vitamin needs increase with pregnancy. A baby especially needs certain nutrients to develop. Expectant moms don’t always take in enough nutrients in their daily diets. Prenatal vitamins are meant to bridge the nutritional gap.
It’s important to remember that prenatal vitamins are a supplement to a healthy diet for expectant moms. They aren’t a replacement for a healthy diet.
How are prenatal vitamins different from traditional multivitamins?
Lots of different prenatal vitamin types are available on the market.
According to the Mayo Clinic, pregnant and adult women need 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium daily. Prenatal vitamins typically have between 200 and 300 mg of calcium. This contributes to a woman’s calcium requirements but doesn’t account for all of her daily calcium needs. Calcium is important for all women because it keeps their bones strong.
Taking in enough folic acid is linked with reducing neural tube defects like spina bifida. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that pregnant women (and those trying to get pregnant) take in 600 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day from all sources. Since it may be difficult to get this much folic acid from foods alone, a supplement is recommended.
Foods that have folic acid (also known as folate) include beans, leafy green vegetables, asparagus, and broccoli. Many fortified foods including cereal, bread, and pasta have folate too.
renatal vitamins are multivitamins that include a variety of vitamins and minerals. They help provide the critical components necessary to nourish a pregnant woman’s body and support the development of her growing baby.
When to Take Prenatal Vitamins
So when should women start taking prenatal vitamins? Twogood recommends starting daily prenatal vitamins one month before trying to conceive and continuing them throughout the first trimester of pregnancy. Mendes says that starting before you become pregnant can help prepare your body. “Certain nutrients, such as folate, are most important in the early stages of pregnancy,” says Mendes, who is also the creator of In the Glow, a nutrition series for pregnant women.
What sets prenatal vitamins apart from regular multivitamins is usually the higher amount of folic acid and iron. Prescription prenatal vitamins often contain additional ingredients or nutrients—perhaps extra omega-3s or a stool softener called Colace or extra iron—to make themselves marketable or slightly different from OTC prenatal vitamins, explains Twogood. “For most women, over-the-counter prenatal vitamins will do just fine,” she says.
The ingredient doses in prenatal vitamins may vary, but the key ingredients won’t change drastically. Avoid artificial extras, such as artificial colors, while keeping an eye out for the important nutrients, below. If you have concerns about choosing the right prenatal vitamins, talk with your doctor about your specific needs.
It’s crucial during pregnancy as blood volume increases up to 40 to 50 percent, and iron is used to transport oxygen throughout your body and to your baby.
The Glow of a Woman in Child – Maybe It’s the Vitamins!
There may be other reasons a woman gains a healthy glow. Many women who are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant eliminate toxins from their lives, whether by cleaner eating or cutting out smoking and alcohol. By detoxifying and eating healthier, women are naturally supporting the function of their organs, including the skin. Women who are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant also should take daily prenatal supplements.
These contain vitamins and minerals that have unexpected beauty benefits.
Research has shown that biotin, also called vitamin B7, supports strong hair and roots.
The same studies that have shown biotin supports strong hair also provide evidence that it supports strong nails.
There are several vitamins that aid in skin health, including a number of antioxidants (vitamins C and E). They help fight free radicals and help protect our skin cells from damaging sun exposure.3 In addition, a number of B vitamins are essential for the development of cells throughout the body, including skin cells.
The Outcome of a Successful Pregnancy Vitamin Regime
Nutritional needs are higher during pregnancy. As a mother-to-be, it is important that you get the nutrients you need for a healthy pregnancy, plus the nutrients your baby needs for proper development. Even if you eat a wide variety of foods, it is difficult to get all the nutrients you and your baby need from your diet alone. At Virginia Beach Obstetrics & Gynecology, ensuring that our expectant mothers take prenatal vitamins and get the nutrition they need is an important part of the prenatal care we provide.
The right prenatal vitamin and mineral supplements can help you maintain your own health during pregnancy and minimize certain risks for your child.
By taking sufficient quantities of folic acid before and at the beginning of pregnancy, your baby’s risk of being born with these defects is reduced by up to 70%. May reduce the risk of other birth defects: Folic acid may also help lower the risk of your child being born with a cleft lip, a cleft palate, or certain heart birth defects. May reduce the risk of developing preeclampsia: For the mother, taking sufficient folic acid early in the pregnancy may lower the risk of developing preeclampsia, a dangerous condition characterized by high blood pressure, fluid retention, and excess protein in the urine. In severe cases of preeclampsia, when blood pressure is extremely high, emergency C-section may be required.
In addition to other factors, such as carrying adequate body fat, conceiving and growing a healthy baby requires certain levels of nutrients. Dietary sources of vitamins and minerals are sometimes enough to meet these requirements, but prenatal vitamins can ensure additional health benefits during pregnancy.
Some women who are of childbearing age don’t get enough nutrients from their diets, according to the National Institutes of Health, which sometimes makes getting pregnant difficult. Even if conception occurs, a deficiency of certain vitamins and minerals has a negative impact on the development of the fetus, such as stunted growth or malformations. Prenatal vitamins are a little different from regular multivitamins because they are designed to “fill in the gap” for certain nutrients essential during pregnancy, especially folic acid, vitamin D, iron and calcium. Prenatal supplements typically contain other vitamins and trace minerals, too, but they differ in types and amounts according to the brand.
Prenatal Vitamins Can Make Your Child Smarter!
Prenatal vitamins will make your kid smarter, says new study. The importance of folate Also known by its synthetic version, folic acid, folate reduces the risk for neural tube defects. “There are rare congenital anomalies where the spinal cord and neural tube do not develop completely,” says Grundland. “By supplementing with folate, you reduce the chance of that congenital malformation.”
Risk for this defect is highest in the first trimester, especially during the first few weeks, which is why it’s ideal to start taking prenatal vitamins three months before conception. And since it’s difficult to get the required daily dose of 0.4 to 0.8 milligrams from food—even if you do eat folate-rich spinach, asparagus and liver—health professionals recommend supplementation regardless of diet. If your growing baby is considered high risk because you’ve previously had a child with a neural tube defect or you have a body mass index of more than 35, your doctor may prescribe a higher dose.
Can You Continue to Take Prenatal Vitamins After Childbirth Has Occurred?
For the first few months after having a baby—when you may not have time to eat a balanced diet and feel exhausted—taking prenatal vitamins is fine. But, long term, they have higher than necessary amounts of certain vitamins and minerals that can cause [negative] side effects.
Two in particular to be aware of are iron and folic acid. Some women can benefit from an iron supplement, such as young women with especially heavy periods and, of course, moms-to-be (the nutrient aids baby’s brain development and helps prevent iron deficiency anemia in pregnancy). But too much of this mineral can be a bad thing.
In fact taking more iron than you need all the time can lead to constipation, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or worse.
Within the medical world not everyone agrees that all women should take prenatal vitamins. According to the Mayo Clinic, a healthy, well-balanced diet can provide all that is necessary for a single human being without the need for multivitamins.
Others do point out that they have found that taking prenatal vitamins even when they’re not pregnant has benefits such as thicker hair or stronger nails!
As in everything medical, we commend all readers to research the pros and cons, weigh up the available information and make their choices.
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