Pregnant women face unique and heightened health concerns because their
body’s resources are now spread to two living beings. One way that
women can help manage these health concerns is through prenatal vitamins.
Prenatal vitamins address the unique needs of both mothers-to-be and their
Common prenatal vitamins include:
- Folic acid
Each of these vitamins meet a specific health need. Folic acid, which is
often naturally found in citrus, spinach leaves, and certain nuts, prevents
neural tube defects. Essentially, it protects your unborn child from defective
development of the brain or spine. If a defect has already been detected,
taking folic acid early enough may actually improve your child’s
development. Be sure to ask your doctor about taking folic acid supplements,
as it may only improve certain cases.
Calcium is another important supplement. Though naturally found in milk,
a calcium supplement can help provide the much-higher amount of the mineral
to pregnant women. When a baby’s skeleton is developing, calcium
is often diverted away from the mother’s bones, leading to a higher
risk of bone degradation. Calcium supplements ensure strong bones for
both the mother and the baby.
Iron supplements serve a crucial purpose—it allows oxygen to travel
through the blood far more quickly and efficiently. Iron is normally important
regardless of pregnancy, but women who are pregnant will need roughly
1/3 more iron daily than women who are not pregnant. The last supplement,
iodine, promotes thyroid function. The thyroid helps the developing baby
Risks of Prenatal Vitamins
Prenatal vitamins do come with a limited set of side effects. For example,
too much iron can result in bowel irregularity (either constipation or
diarrhea) and nausea, and it can sometimes to be fatal. Other effects
of too many prenatal vitamins include:
- Loss of appetite
- Stomach cramps
- Severe, constant nausea
If you have any problems metabolizing iron, physicians do
not recommend taking prenatal vitamins with iron for the above reasons. However,
the good news is that these effects are
very rare. For the most part, a vitamin supplement will have nothing but positive
effects on a pregnancy, barring allergic reaction or rare conditions.
If you have no medical allergies or iron-metabolizing conditions, consider
taking prenatal vitamins from before conception into breastfeeding your child.
As always, consult your personal physician if you have questions pertaining
to your specific situation. In the event that you do experience any allergic
reaction while pregnant, contact your doctor immediately.
This article contains general information about medical conditions and
treatments. The information is not advice and should not be treated as
such. The information is not intended to replace the advice or diagnosis
of a physician.
If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should
consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.