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Why Do I Need Prenatal Vitamins?

Prenatal Vitamins

You might be thinking, “I eat healthy so why do I need to take prenatal vitamins?” Eating healthy is only part of having a healthy pregnancy. Prenatal vitamins are a great way to fill in nutritional gaps that a mom-to-be might have.  Prenatal vitamins contain many vitamins and minerals. Their folic acid, iron, iodine, and calcium are especially important.

Folic acid is extremely important as it helps to prevent neural tube birth defects which affect the brain and spinal cord. These birth defects typically develop in the first 28 days after conception. Most women have not even discovered they are pregnant at that stage of pregnancy.

Prenatal Vitamins

About half of all pregnancies are unplanned, so most doctors will recommend that any woman who could get pregnant take either a prenatal vitamin as their daily multivitamin or add 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid daily, starting before conception and continuing at least through the first 12 weeks of the pregnancy. Green leafy vegetables, nuts, beans and citrus fruits are just a few of the foods that contain folic acid.

Calcium is another mineral that is important for pregnant women. This can prevent loss of bone density as the baby uses calcium for its own bone growth. Iron is also extremely important for both mom and baby. This is because iron helps carry oxygen in the blood.

While some doctors will provide a prescription for prenatal vitamins, you do not have to wait to start taking the vitamins until you see your doctor. Most of the time you will not see your doctor until you are at least 8 weeks gestation. At this point, you have missed that critical 28 day time period where the neural tube is developing. You can purchase prenatal vitamins at any pharmacy or where vitamins are sold.

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