Understanding your vitamin requirements in pregnancy
What is a prenatal vitamin?
Regular multivitamins meet the needs of an average person with average activity levels. Prenatal vitamins differ from regular multivitamins in the way they are formulated. They are made with higher concentrations of essential vitamins necessary for proper development of baby and to maintain the health of mom. When you are pregnant, there is a greater demand on your body and baby will take what he needs first to develop. This can leave mom deficient and potentially affect her health adversely. If Mom is deficient enough, baby can suffer. Three primary minerals pregnant women need in higher doses are: Folic Acid to prevent brain and spinal cord defects, Calcium for bone growth, and Iron to enable blood to carry oxygen.
Why take a prenatal vitamin?
Busy lifestyles often prevent consuming enough food to acquire our vitamin and mineral requirements. Even the most dedicated balanced eater may not meet the needs of a body that is focused on growing a healthy baby. Taking a supplement can ensure that mom and baby are getting what they need to be healthy. For baby this is particularly important as shortages of certain minerals are linked directly with certain birth defects.
Are they all the same?
Not all prenatal vitamins are the same. Speak to your health care provider early for brand and dosing recommendations that will maintain your health and give baby the best start possible. Generally, look for the following:
- 4,000 and 5,000 IU (international units) of vitamin A
- 800 and 1,000 mcg (1 mg) of folic acid
- 400 IU of vitamin D
- 200 to 300 mg of calcium
- 70 mg of vitamin C
- 1.5 mg of thiamine
- 1.6 mg of riboflavin
- 2.6 mg of pyridoxine
- 17 mg of niacinamide
- 2.2 mcg of vitamin B12
- 10 mg of vitamin E
- 15 mg of zinc
- 30 mg of iron
The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional advice from your primary health care provider. Always consult your healthcare professional for recommendations and advice unique to your situation. Never self-diagnose or self-medicate.