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Surprising Facts about Taking Prenatal Vitamins You Didn’t Know

Healthy pregnancy strongly depends on a healthy diet. However, there are many conditions related to pregnancy, including eating disorders, nausea, and even vomiting that can hold women back from having properly balanced meals. Most dietitians and physicians advise pregnant women to take prenatal vitamins during pregnancy and afterwards. This assures provision of nutrients necessary for the mother and her baby.

Prenatal vitamins were developed to meet the changed nutrition needs that pregnant and breastfeeding women have. It has to be noticed that these vitamins should only be used by women who are attempting to get pregnant, who already are pregnant, or who are lactating. As of pre-pregnancy use, the vitamins should be started approximately 3 months prior to conception attempt in order to regulate any probable mineral or vitamin insufficiency. Taking prenatal vitamins after giving birth is known to provide additional nutrients for lactating, which supports both mother’s and baby’s health.

Although prenatal vitamins are a usual practice for most women, the chances are that you don’t actually realize what is happening with your body during their use.

Folate Prevents Congenital Anomalies

Folate is one of the most critical nutrients provided by prenatal vitamins. It is also referred to as vitamin B9 and folic acid  and assists the foetus to produce DNA, improves brain function, and positively affects cell growth. When taken during pregnancy, folate can help decrease the risk of birth anomalies related to the spinal cord and brain.

In the early development stages, the fetus has an opening at the end of the spinal cord that needs folic acid in order to close properly. It is unclear how the vitamin helps with the closure. But, it could be associated with its function in cell growth. Hence, the use of folic acid during pregnancy has been displayed to decrease the occurrence of such birth defect types by more than 70%. However, doctors and nutritionists advise to start using the vitamin before conception attempts. The thing is that this particular birth anomaly occurs at early stages of pregnancy, even before a woman is aware she is expecting.

Increase in Iron Levels

Iron is a mineral required for building red blood cells that, in turn, help transport oxygen throughout the body. When the body lacks iron, it is called anemia, which is a common condition for pregnant women. During gestational period, a woman requires 27 mg of iron a day, compared to 18 mg before pregnancy. Thus, additional iron source is required to help pregnant women build red blood cells for mother and baby. This also helps support a robust placenta and get the body ready for blood loss that is to occur during birthing.

Normally, mild pregnancy anemia simply results in light fatigue, not causing any serious issues. However, if you don’t treat anemia, it may lead to a stillbirth or miscarriage.

Calcium for Stronger Bones

Calcium is another crucial component in prenatal vitamins. It is a significant mineral for bone building. The element is also utilized for the support of nerves, muscle contraction, and hormones. As surprising as it may sound, the need for calcium doesn’t increase during gestation. Since the body takes more calcium from food during pregnancy, both non-pregnant and pregnant women need 1,000 mg of the mineral a day.

So, in case the body doesn’t get enough calcium for the baby, it is going to take it from the bones of the mother, thus weakening them. Because of this, pregnant women have to take just enough calcium for their bone mass support.

DHA Improves Brain Power of the Baby

A lot of prenatal vitamins have an omega-3 fatty acid known as DHA (short for Docosahexaenoic Acid) in their contents. This component is crucial for proper development of nervous system and the brain. The brain consists of 60% fat, which makes fat quite important for a baby.

Fatty fish is a rich source of DHA. However, a lot of women nowadays are advised to restrict their fish consumption because of mercury contamination concerns. It is known that low consumption of omega-3 fats has been associated with ADHD, lower IQ, autism, and even premature births. This basically means that the lowering of fish intake could reduce the consumption of healthy fats during gestation. So, taking DHA is particularly significant in maintaining the mom’s diet and supporting the baby’s developing brain and nervous system.

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