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Prenatal Vitamins: Essential to a Healthy Pregnancy        

About six months ago, my husband and I decided that it was the right time to begin trying for a baby. My health has always been a priority, but once we decided to bring a child into the world I knew that keeping my body healthy was more important than ever. I made an appointment with my doctor right away to get her advice on creating the safest environment that I possibly could for our new addition to grow. One of the first things that she suggested was taking a high quality prenatal vitamin right away, even before I became pregnant, to ensure that my baby would get all of the nutrients that it needs for healthy growth right from the moment of  conception.

Benefits and Evidence:

According to the Mayo Clinic, women should begin taking prenatal vitamins three months prior to conception. The reason for this is that “the baby's neural tube, which becomes the brain and spinal cord, develops during the first month of pregnancy.” This could be before you know that you’re pregnant, making certain vitamins and minerals essential. Folic acid, for instance, helps to prevent defects within the brain and spinal cord and helps them to develop properly; Familydoctor.org suggests taking about 0.4 mg of folic acid a day. Calcium promotes healthy bones for mother and child in addition to promoting proper function of the nervous, circulatory and muscular systems, according to the Mayo Clinic. They add that iron aids in the development of muscle and blood cells. Iron is also important in the prevention of anemia, a common problem during pregnancy. All in all, “vitamins and minerals such as iron, calcium, and folic acid are vital for proper fetal growth, development, and healthy adult living,” says the American Pregnancy Association. Additional vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin D, are also important. Vitamin D helps the body to absorb calcium, and deficiency can cause serious complications both during pregnancy and after birth. The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies recommends at least 600 IU and no more than 4,000 IU per day of vitamin D for women ages 19-50 who are pregnant or nursing. Certain herbs can also aid in pregnancy issues such as nausea and bloating. The American Pregnancy Association lists peppermint leaf as one such herb, as it is “helpful in relieving nausea/morning sickness and flatulence,” and Linda B. White, M.D. says that dandelion contains several essential nutrients and can help to alleviate water retention.

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