Benefits And Risks Of Prenatal Multivitamins

Prenatal vitamins help ensure adequate nutrition during pregnancy. However, you should also know the risks.

A prenatal vitamin is a supplement designed to be taken before, during and after pregnancy to ensure you are getting the proper amounts of vitamins and minerals necessary for the health of you and your baby. They come in the form of a pill, chewable tablet, or liquid, and liquid varieties absorb up to five times more efficiently than the other two types. Prenatal vitamins are available by prescription and in many over-the-counter formulas. You should always speak to your doctor before taking any supplement, particularly during pregnancy, and consult a pharmacist if you have questions concerning a specific supplement of medication.

You may continue to take prenatal vitamins while you are lactating, and you should continue to monitor your nutrition during this time since diet affects the nutritional composition and even the taste of breast milk. The mother's nutrition can affect the child's food preference even into adulthood.

What are the benefits of a prenatal vitamin?

During pregnancy, your body is depleted of its regular supply of vitamins and minerals, so a prenatal vitamin will protect the health of both you and your developing child. Fifty percent of birth defects can be prevented if the mother takes vitamins several months before and during pregnancy. Taking supplements before you become pregnant is important so that your body will have an adequate supply of nutrients.

There are several vitamins and minerals you should particularly look for in a prenatal supplement, such as folic acid, calcium, and iron. If you are vegetarian, vegan, or follow other dietary restrictions, consult your doctor to see what nutrients you may be missing.

Folic acid has been shown to decrease instances of serious neural tube defects such as spina bifida by 73%, and you should take 600 micrograms a day during pregnancy, beginning 3 months before pregnancy. Note that folic acid is more beneficial if taken prior to pregnancy, and it has been proven to be much less effective if taken after the first trimester. If you think there is a chance you may become pregnant, the U. S. Public Health Service recommends that you take at least 400 mcg per day.

When you are pregnant, your body will produce more blood, depleting iron stores, which can cause iron-deficiency anemia. Your doctor will advise you about how much you should take based on blood tests. Iron should generally be taken after the first trimester to prevent overdose.

If you are lactose intolerant or dislike consuming milk or dairy products, you should also take a calcium supplement to boost your total to at least 1200 milligrams.

You should inform your doctor of any other prescription or over-the-counter medications you are taking because some will affect the recommended dosage of your prenatal vitamins. You should be especially cautious about herbal remedies and other medications not approved by the Food and Drug Administration as there is no guarantee that these are completely safe for you and your baby during pregnancy.

What are the risks of prenatal vitamins?

Severe averse effects are rare, but they do occur in some women. If you notice difficulty breathing, swelling of the throat and mouth, or hives, this may signify an allergic reaction, and you should consult a doctor immediately. Other possible side effects include nausea, constipation, and a change in stools. To prevent these problems, you should take multivitamins with a full glass of water at mealtimes. Your doctor may recommend that you reduce your dosage.

Unfortunately, supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, so they may very widely in the quantity and variety of vitamins and minerals they contain. Most have been found inadequate in folic acid, one of the most essential vitamins to be taken during pregnancy. Not all supplements are the same, so you should compare several ask your doctor what would be best for you based on dietary needs.

You should not take multiple supplements without your doctor's consent because this is an easy way to overdose. While most excess nutrients will pass through your body unabsorbed, several vitamins and minerals become toxic at high doses. The most common side effects of overdose are nausea and diarrhea. Do not take more than 10,000 IU of vitamin A per day because the type made from animal products can cause birth defects in large quantities. An alternate source of this vitamin comes from beta-carotene, which is found in many fruits and vegetables such as carrots, spinach, and cantaloupe.

Although prenatal vitamins are an excellent way to insure adequate nutrition and prevent birth defects, remember that they are not a substitute for a healthy diet. Be sure to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean protein (such as chicken or fish), and complex carbohydrates (such as brown rice or wheat bran). Although you will require an increased number of calories each day, pregnancy is not a license to eat all the junk food you want. You should be consuming nutritional foods in greater amounts, not adding junk to your diet. In general, it is okay to satisfy a craving because this may be your body's way of telling you what it needs.

In conclusion, prenatal vitamins are one of the best ways to prevent birth defects. No supplement is completely safe, however, and scientists are only beginning to understand the complex workings of nutrition. Therefore, always consult a doctor.

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