prenatal vitamins

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Every women and every site I have consulted has stressed the importance of prenatal vitamins! They are oh so crucial during pregnancy, but what many women don't realize is how important they are to take while trying to get pregnant.

Folic acid, iron, and calcium are the key ingredients in prenatal vitamins. Calcium can prevent you from losing your own bone density, since your baby will need to use the minerals for growing their bones. Iron helps both of you get oxygen through your blood.

But folic acid is the most crucial. It can reduce your risk of having a baby with spina bifida. A baby with spina bifida, the most common 'neural tube' defect, is born with an unclosed spine. The exposed nerves are damaged, leading to varying degrees of paralysis, incontinence, and sometimes mental retardation. Wow! If I can prevent all that just by taking a vitamin, I'm all for it!

So why is it so important to take prenatals before getting preggers? Neural tube defects develop in the first 28 days, that's why. And many women don't even realize they are pregnant before that time, especially if the pregnancy is not planned. The Department of Health recommends taking at least 400 micrograms of folic acid each day while trying to get knocked up and 600 micrograms at least 12 weeks into pregnancy.

Look for a prenatal vitamin with the following:
400 mcg of folic acid
400 IU of vitamin D
200 to 300 mg of calcium
70 mg of vitamin C
3 mg of thiamine
2 mg of riboflavin
20 mg of niacine
6 mcg of vitamin B12
10 mg of vitamin E
15 mg of zinc
17 mg of iron

Personally, I chose to stick with my multi-vitamin. Since junior high, I have been taking Shaklee's Vita-Lea Iron Formula Dietary Supplement - which is specifically formulated for 'teens and women of childbearing age'. It has the necessary folic acid, calcium, and iron that I need. Plus I already have a full bottle in my cupboard! I may switch when I actually get pregnant, but I'll base that on my doctor's recommendation.
If you do take a multivitamin, make sure it doesn't contain more than the recommended daily allowance of 2,565 IU of vitamin A, unless it's all in a form called beta-carotene. Getting too much of a certain kind of vitamin A can cause birth defects.

To learn more visit or ask your doctor.
Good luck choosing the prenatal vitamin that is right for you! Do you have any recommendations?


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