Who doesn’t want a smooth-sailing pregnancy? Although it’s important to eat a well-balanced variety of nutritious foods throughout your pregnancy, you should also support a healthy diet and lifestyle with the right supplements. Keep in mind that prenatal multivitamins complement a healthy diet; they don’t replace it.
Prenatal supplements contain higher doses of certain nutrients that are required to support a growing fetus, including folate, iron and calcium. However, not all nutrients are the same!
Choosing your prenatal supplement should be the easy part. Here’s what you should look for.
Important elements of a prenatal supplement:
Folate is vitamin B9, which is naturally found in dark leafy greens, nuts, peas, beans, and fruits such as melons and strawberries. Folate is essential during pregnancy for red blood cell formation and preventing neural tube defects. Think of the billions of cells that are created to form a fetus! Producing these cells requires folate for DNA and RNA replication, the genetic material in all cells. Ideally, supplementation should begin two months before conceiving, as the baby’s neural tube containing the brain and spinal cord develops during the first few months of pregnancy.
One in four pregnant women are iron deficient. The need for this mineral amplifies during pregnancy because red blood cells depend on iron to deliver oxygen throughout the body and to the fetus. A deficiency in iron may affect a fetus’ brain development, nerve function, and lead to low birth weight.
Iron is a nutrient that takes a few months for the body’s stores to build up. This is another reason why having adequate levels before pregnancy is important. Keep in mind that not all iron forms are tolerated the same – if you experience constipation, diarrhea, or gas from your prenatal or iron supplement, it could be caused by the form of iron in your supplement – especially if it’s a poorly absorbed form like iron oxide.
In addition to iron, cofactors to red blood cell formation include vitamin C, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, magnesium, copper and folate. A supplement choice to consider is the Iron Complex by Orange Naturals, as it is non-constipating and contains all of these essential nutrients for healthy blood cells.
Essential for energy production, nervous system communication, red blood cell production and more, B vitamins are important for pregnant women and their growing fetus. In your prenatal supplement, look for vitamin B6 to help decrease potential for morning sickness, and vitamin B12 in its active form – methylcobalamin.
Calcium and Magnesium
Calcium helps to ensure the normal development of bones. When it comes to nutrients, the fetus gets first dibs. So, if there’s not enough calcium or magnesium coming in from mom’s diet, mom’s reserves will be depleted. That could mean risking mom’s bone health to ensure the baby gets what’s needed during development.
Both calcium and magnesium are required for contraction and relaxation of muscles, including the uterus. Magnesium is used in over 800 different biochemical reactions in the body, including calming our mind and relaxing our muscles. If you’re experiencing leg cramps, spasms and stiffness, or having trouble falling asleep due to nervousness, this mineral is helpful in relieving some of these pregnancy-related symptoms. When choosing natural health supplements, try to look for gentle, easily absorbable forms, such as calcium citrate and magnesium glycinate.
Commonly known for its bone building benefits, studies have shown that high doses of vitamin D can decrease pregnancy complications such as infection, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and cesarean delivery rates. Vitamin D supplementation also helps maintain a healthy immune system, mood, and more – in particular, vitamin D3. It’s important to have sufficient vitamin D levels at least 3 months before conception, as adequate levels of this vitamin takes time to build up in the body.
The body requires iodine to synthesize thyroid hormones and is essential for the formation and development of organs and tissues. During pregnancy, production of iodine increases. Low intake and maternal iodine deficiency may lead to potential concerns with the fetus’ brain development, as iodine helps with the development of the thyroid and brain, and regulates your baby’s metabolism.
For most women, the amount of zinc found in prenatal multivitamins are adequate. This mineral is important for maintaining a full term pregnancy. In addition, zinc supports the immune system and healthy cell growth. Think of the billions of new cells that are created as your baby develops! Zinc helps to ensure these cells are healthy.
What time of day should I take my prenatal supplement?
Generally, it’s a good idea to take your prenatal supplement with food; take the recommended dose with breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner. Some women feel nauseous taking prenatal vitamins, so taking them with food may help reduce nausea. In addition, some nutrients are fat-soluble, including vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin D, and vitamin K. This means that they require fat to be absorbed. So go ahead and enjoy healthy fats such as avocados, nuts, seeds, coconut oil, and olive oil in your meals!
Sounds overwhelming? We’ve got you covered!
Keeping all this in mind when choosing a prenatal multivitamin can be a bit overwhelming. Luckily, Orange Naturals makes it easy with our Prenatal Multi, which contains a full spectrum of 24 vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to support pregnant and breast-feeding women. This prenatal supplement is gluten-free, soy-free, and dairy-free. Rest assured that you and your baby are in good hands.
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