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The Many Health Benefits of Prenatal Vitamins

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Mother holding her pregnant stomach at the beach taking prenatal vitamins during sunset

What is Prenatal?

During pregnancy, a woman's nutritional needs change dramatically to support her growing baby. However, daily vitamins and a balanced diet can often take a backseat when you're juggling morning sickness, weird cravings, general discomfort, prenatal care, and ongoing preparations for the impending arrival.
Luckily, prenatal vitamins can help pregnant women everywhere get enough nutrients for their bodies and for what the baby needs!
Prenatal vitamins are a collection of nutrients designed for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying to conceive. While these are not a replacement for a healthy diet, they help to fill nutritional gaps and encourage a smooth pregnancy and a healthy baby. Some of the key nutrients to look for when choosing your prenatals include:

  • Folic acid
  • Iron
  • Calcium
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • B-Complex vitamins
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Choline
  • Zinc
  • Copper
  • Iodine
  • Vitamin D3
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How does it work?

Prenatal supplements are designed to meet the nutritional needs of expectant mothers and lactating women. These vitamin supplements contain ideal levels and ratios of certain key nutrients like zinc, iron, iodine, folic acid, calcium, and vitamin D3. Each of these key vitamins is essential for cell growth and development, nervous system development, and the formation of a strong skeletal system for your fetus.
Prenatal vitamins help to create an optimal environment to support a healthy pregnancy, reducing the risk of defects or negative side effects after birth. During a study on women who took a regular multivitamin from the first trimester through the third trimester, researchers found these pregnant women were four times less likely to have a preterm birth than women who didn't take anything. In the same study, the risk of premature birth was reduced twofold in women who supplemented with prenatal nutrients from the second trimester through the last weeks of pregnancy (1). Overall, this proves that women of childbearing age can benefit from the best prenatal vitamins to help them carry a healthier pregnancy to full-term.

When to Take a Prenatal Formula?

Prenatal supplements are ideal for women during three phases of life: preconception, pregnancy, and lactation.
While not all women plan their pregnancy, if you are trying to conceive it's best to optimize your nutrient intake at least one month (ideally three to six months) in advance with dietary supplements. An interesting 2012 study found that a higher intake of essential omega-3 fatty acids—found in many prenatal vitamins—improved egg quality, particularly for women of advanced maternal age (2). Don't wait until you become pregnant to start your prenatal multivitamins, especially if you're trying to conceive.

It may seem obvious that every pregnant woman can benefit from additional supplements and prenatals to aid the health of your pregnancy. It's a good idea to start a daily prenatal vitamin regimen to help the developing fetus get the essential nutrients and key vitamins. Plus, pregnant people need to worry about their own health and any deficiency or gaps in their diet.
Prenatal supplements are also hugely advantageous during breastfeeding. An optimal vitamin and mineral intake ensures you're making enough nutrient-dense breast milk to provide a growing baby with everything they need. Your newborn will get good nutrition when you're getting the right daily intake of milligrams of those important nutrients for your overall health.
Additionally, women with digestive conditions, vegans, and vegetarians could benefit from a prenatal supplement as they are at higher risk of nutrient deficiencies during pregnancy and lactation. Consult your health care provider or gynecologist to see if the benefits of prenatal vitamins will be a good thing for you to consider with your immune system, medical conditions, or lifestyle choices.

 Healthy woman running taking prenatal vitamin

Health Benefits of Prenatal

Taking a comprehensive prenatal supplement may help to reduce the risk of preeclampsia. This dangerous form of high blood pressure occurs in about 2–8% of pregnancies. Unfortunately, it can be fatal for the mom and the baby. Research suggests multivitamin supplements containing folic acid, vitamin D3, and antioxidants like vitamin C and E are important supplements for reducing the risk of preeclampsia (3).

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May Reduce Pregnancy Complications

Taking a comprehensive prenatal supplement may help to reduce the risk of preeclampsia. This dangerous form of high blood pressure occurs in about 2–8% of pregnancies. Unfortunately, it can be fatal for the mom and the baby. Research suggests multivitamin supplements containing folic acid, vitamin D3, and antioxidants like vitamin C and E are important supplements for reducing the risk of preeclampsia (3).

May Lower the Risk of Birth Defects

A prenatal supplement provides key nutrients like folic acid (vitamin B9) which are vital within the first trimester of pregnancy. These aid fetal development by helping cellular growth and development as it occurs rapidly.
Extensive research has found that supplementing with at least 400 mcg of folic acid before conception or during early pregnancy may help to prevent spina bifida, a birth defect that results in incomplete spinal cord development (4). The right dietary supplement will help the baby's spine and bones grow strong while in utero. Multivitamins can also help with the baby's brain development. The right folic acid supplements and prenatal care are essential for the baby's growth throughout your pregnancy.

Helps to Increase Iron Levels and Blood Volume

For expectant mothers, their blood volume doubles during pregnancy. This increases the body's need for more iron. Unfortunately, iron deficiency is common in pregnancy and has been linked to premature labor and low infant birth weight (5). Plus, low iron levels makes you feel even more tired!
Consuming optimal levels of folic acid, iron, and B12 may boost maternal blood volume by promoting healthy red blood cell formation. This is necessary for proper blood oxygenation and optimal energy production. If you can't get the nutrients you need from iron-rich foods, prenatal vitamin options will traditionally include a few milligrams of iron to help your baby's development while keeping your levels up.

Promotes Healthy Fetal Nervous System Development

The omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and phospholipid choline are vital during pregnancy. These structural fats play an important role in the healthy development of the baby's brain, nervous system, and eyes (6). Research has found that supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy and lactation helps to improve mental development and intelligence in childhood (7). Help your baby's brain grow strong while they're a fetus and once they're nursing by fixing any deficiency with these omega-3s and additional supplements in your prenatals.


Make Prenatal Part of Your Daily Diet

Glass of water with lemon vitamin c on a wooden table

Okay, you knew it was coming... time for a shameless plug. Do you think the benefits of adding prenatal to your daily diet could help your pregnancy? Create a personalized daily vitamin pack from VitaRx that includes prenatal and any other vitamins, minerals, or supplements you think could help. Start by adding prenatal to your custom kit here!

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best prenatal supplement

Make Prenatal a part of your daily vitamin and supplement routine

  • Minimizes the risk of nutritional deficiencies during pregnancy
  • Ideal for supporting women during preconception, pregnancy, and lactation
  • Promotes healthy fetal growth and development

 

Resources: 

  1. https://academic.oup.com/aje/article/146/2/134/165151
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22978268/
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0929664617303686
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1677062/
  5. https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/pregnancy-concerns/anemia-during-pregnancy/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6566660/
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12509593/

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