What are Prenatal Vitamins: Importance During Pregnancy
India is home to more than 1.3 billion people, and this number is constantly on the rise thanks to an ever-rising birth rate. However, health complications and maternal death rates remain a cause for concern.
Miscarriages and other complications can often arise from such simple causes as insufficient minerals and vitamins for the mother and the developing foetus. This is why prenatal vitamins are an extremely important part of any successful pregnancy.
If you are wondering what prenatal vitamins are and why you need them, peruse the following piece!
What Are Prenatal Vitamins?
Before you can appreciate what prenatal vitamins are for during pregnancies, you need to understand what these are. Prenatal vitamins are a concoction of vitamin supplements that your doctor prescribes when you are planning a pregnancy or are already pregnant.
These added vitamins and minerals help support a healthy pregnancy, ensuring proper growth for the child in the womb. They also assist the mother to avoid severe complications during this pregnancy.
If you are curious to know how prenatal vitamins help, read the following section.
Advantages of Prenatal Vitamins for Mothers and Children
The dietary requirements change considerably for a woman during pregnancies. While vitamins are important for all, pregnant women have an increased need for particular minerals and vitamins during these 9 months.
To understand the importance of prenatal vitamins, you should know that they are devised keeping in mind the specific needs of the mother and unborn child. For instance, such concoctions have increased amounts of folic acid in them.
Experiments have shown that higher folic acid in the mother’s bloodstream can prevent neural tube birth defects. Similarly, the use of vitamins in pregnancy has shown positive results and successful childbirth than mothers who did not supplement their diets with such vitamins.
Here is a look at some of the well-documented advantages –
- Reduces the risk of birth defects
- Minimises the chances of the mother being afflicted with preeclampsia
- Prevents iron-deficiency anaemia in the mother
- Ensures sufficient calcium availability for foetal development
- Reduces the risk of rickets in newborns
- Prevents certain forms of gestational diabetes, especially those linked with vitamin D deficiency
Now that you have an idea regarding what prenatal vitamins are and some of their benefits, read on to know exactly which vitamins and minerals make up this mixture.
What Do Prenatal Vitamins Contain?
Now, a common question among expecting mothers is –what vitamins are good for pregnant women? In this section, learn about the necessary vitamins and minerals.
Also, get a brief idea regarding the complications that arise when the recommended levels of such vitamins remain unmet during pregnancies.
1. Folic Acid
Folic acid at the recommended level is crucial from conception until the end of the first trimester. It can prevent any defects from forming in the baby’s spinal cord or brain. If you have already had a previous pregnancy where the child was born with neural tube defects, your doctor may prescribe higher doses of folic acid during this second pregnancy.
Simply understanding what prenatal vitamins are isn't enough. You must also know why such vitamins are important. For instance, calcium supplements are necessary because the foetus uses calcium from the mother's bloodstream to form its own bones. Thus, a pregnant woman would need increased calcium at such a time.
Deficiencies can lead to improper bone formation for the baby or diseases, such as rickets.
Iron ensures the formation of red blood cells, which are essential for transporting oxygen into a woman’s womb. Therefore, lack of proper iron levels can cause anaemia in an expecting mother.
Iodine regulates a woman’s thyroid function when she is expecting. A deficiency can lead to complications, such as stillbirth, miscarriage, deafness, serious mental disability and stunted growth.
Zinc aids in cellular development and growth during pregnancies. Improper levels of this mineral can lead to neural tube defects, miscarriage and stillbirths.
Thiamine or vitamin B1 helps in the muscular and neural functionalities of a mother and her unborn child. Deficiency of this vitamin can lead to metabolic disturbances for your foetus and placenta.
Vitamin B2 or Riboflavin is another crucial requirement for a successful pregnancy. It is responsible for a baby’s nerve, bone and muscle development. Evidence suggests that pregnant women who do not acquire sufficient vitamin B2 are more likely to develop preeclampsia.
8. Vitamin C
A baby’s brain function development relies significantly on vitamin C availability. Without proper levels of this particular vitamin, a child may be born without proper growth of the brain’s hippocampus region.
9. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is crucial when regulating phosphate and calcium levels in one’s body. Deficiencies have been linked to a higher risk of preeclampsia, gestational diabetes and preterm births.
10. Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 regulates folic acid levels in the body. Without it being present in the proper levels, your child may be born with severe neural tube defects.
11. Vitamin E
Reduced levels of vitamin E have also been linked to preeclampsia and the concerned child being born small.
Now that you know what prenatal vitamins are, why they are important and who should take them, consult your physician immediately if you are planning to get pregnant. They will assess whether you need the supplements or if you are receiving the recommended levels from your diet.
Keep your baby and yourself healthy!