From the moment you get pregnant, your health and your baby’s health are totally linked. Making healthy choices gives your baby the best chance to grow strong and may help you avoid potentially dangerous complications. That’s why prenatal medical care is so important. And, for many women, that includes taking prenatal vitamins.
Prenatal vitamins provide essential vitamins and minerals that proper diet alone may not deliver in high enough quantities. Folic acid, iron, iodine and calcium are particularly important for pregnancy health.
Folic acid plays an important role in preventing birth defects of the brain and spine. During early pregnancy, this vitamin helps form the neural tube, the embryonic structure that later develops into the central nervous system. Folic acid is so important, in fact, that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends all women of childbearing age get at least 400 micrograms per day – even before you’re pregnant. After all, unplanned pregnancies do happen.
Calcium is the number-one mineral for bone health. That’s especially important during pregnancy, as the calcium you take in helps your baby’s bones develop too. Calcium also helps prevent bone density loss and preeclampsia in the mother. Preeclampsia is a pregnancy-related condition that can elevate the mother’s blood pressure and cause swelling in the extremities. In some cases, it may require hospitalization and/or early induced labor. Health experts recommend pregnant women should get 1,000 to 1,300 milligrams of calcium each day, depending on their age.
Iodine is critical for supporting thyroid gland function during pregnancy. The thyroid produces thyroxine and triiodothyronine, two hormones necessary for all of your body’s cells to operate as they should. Too little iodine during pregnancy can lead to stunted physical growth, severe mental disability, diminished hearing and possibly even miscarriage or stillbirth. The American Thyroid Association recommends pregnant women should take supplements with 150 micrograms of iodine per day.
Iron helps transport blood throughout the body – both the mother’s and the baby’s. During pregnancy, your body is producing more blood, meaning you need twice as much iron as you did before you were pregnant. Too little iron can lead to iron deficiency anemia, which can cause your baby to be born too small or prematurely. The CDC recommends pregnant women should take a supplement with 30 milligrams or iron per day.
There are, of course, many brands and types of prenatal vitamins and supplements available. You can even get them at the grocery store. It’s important, however, to do your research and read the labels. This article on the “Best Prenatal Vitamins Based on In-Depth Reviews” is a good place to start, but the best thing you can do is talk with a healthcare provider.
At Sira in Gainesville, we help women with a wide variety of pregnancy needs, including prenatal health counseling. If you have questions about any aspects of your pregnancy, or need resources to support your pregnancy, we are here to provide insight, guidance, help and hope. And our services are completely free of charge.
Contact Sira in Gainesville today at 352-377-4947.