Prenatal Vitamins: Why are they important?
Pregnancy is the time of your life you want to make sure your lifestyle is as healthy as possible. Even though you’ve been living a very active and healthy life so far, all of a sudden you realize, you’re not only responsible for yourself anymore, but for a tiny human that’s growing inside you. At least that’s the thought that hit me when I held a positive pregnancy test in my hands…
You probably already know that a balanced nutrition is important during pregnancy. Your shopping cart looks like a rainbow and you’re extra careful planning your meals – avoiding everything you shouldn’t eat when your pregnant such as raw fish and meat, and making sure you’re eating enough of the good stuff. But let’s be honest: It’s hard to know if you’re really getting in all the vitamins and minerals you and your baby need…
That’s where prenatal vitamins come into play. They don’t replace a balanced diet, but instead give you additional support—making sure you don’t fall short on the essential nutrients you need during pregnancy.
Do I need prenatal vitamins?
First of all, taking any prenatal vitamins is a very personal decision. Chances are high your ob-gyn will recommend them once you tell them you’d like to get pregnant, however, it’s your body and you get to decide. What’s very important when thinking about prenatal vitamins is the quality of the products you’re about to take. A multivitamin you can buy at the supermarket is definitely not the right product when you’re pregnant. Prenatal vitamins are specially designed multivitamins that deliver the extra amounts of nutrients needed during various stages of your baby’s development and your pregnancy. For example, they contain folic acid, which is important for baby’s brain development in the earliest stages, and many have vitamin D and calcium to build strong bones and teeth during the third trimester of pregnancy.
Plus, prenatal vitamins help you to maintain your overall nutrients on a good level, so you can’t only provide to your baby, but also your own body doesn’t become depleted.
When should I start taking prenatal vitamins?
In case you’re planning to get pregnant, you should ideally start taking prenatal vitamins – especially folic acid – at least one month before conception – or as soon as you start trying. Crucial neurological development takes place during the first month of pregnancy, when folic acid would offer the most protective benefits. During this time, most women usually do not even know with certainty that they are pregnant. Supplemental intake of 400 µg folic acid one month before and three months after conception increases your folate status. Low maternal folate status is a risk factor in the development of neural tube defects in the developing foetus.
If you’re already pregnant and haven’t been taking prenatal vitamins, no need to worry! Just talk to your ob-gyn about it and start as soon as you can.
Which prenatal vitamins should I take?
I’ve been taking Biogena micronutrients throughout the whole past year and have been very happy with their products. When we started to try for a baby, I talked to my ob-gyn and she recommend to increase my intake in specific vitamins such as folic acid, iron, calcium, vitamin D, and DHA. Biogena offers various products for women who are planning to have children, for women who are already pregnant and also for the time of breastfeeding:
- Biogena Nutrifem® Basic: contains folic acid which is important for cell division, blood formation and growth of maternal tissue during pregnancy, as well as a good base of all the vitamins and nutrients you need during pregnancy
- Biogena Nutrifem CalMagOcean®: supports women with calcium and magnesium from fossil Sango corals for bones, teeth, muscles and nerves.
- Biogena Nutrifem® DHA 250: provides women during pregnancy and lactation with the essential fatty acid DHA from quality-tested highly purified fish oil (GoldenOmega). Due to the special processing, the oil is not only ultrapure, but also odour- and taste-neutralised, making it suitable for sensitive mothers. Nutrition experts recommend pregnant women and nursing mothers at least 200 mg DHA in addition to the recommended daily amount of 250 mg omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA). The intake of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) by the mother contributes to the normal development of the brain and eyes of the unborn and breastfed infant.
If you’re interested (or recommended by your ob-gyn) to take all of the vitamins mentioned above, Biogena offers a special package called Nutrifem Mamma Mia, which includes all three products for the price of two.
For everyone following a plant-based diet who would rather not take fish oil, I can highly recommend Biogena Omega 3 DHA vegan:
- Omega 3 DHA vegan contains DHA from a microalgae. As fish accumulate DHA in their free range through the consumption of marine algae, the cultivation of these algae is a sensible and also more sustainable way to ensure the supply of this important omega 3 fatty acid. The brand raw material life’sDHA® is used in a capsule shell made of modified starch.
There’s strong evidence indicating that omega-3 fatty acids (particularly DHA) may play an important role in the development of your baby’s brain and eyes.
Tip: During my first trimester when I felt nauseous all the time, I was struggling to take my vitamins every day. One trick that has helped me a lot was taking them right after breakfast with a big glass of freshly squeezed orange juice.
Choosing what’s right for you
When thinking about which prenatal vitamin to buy, consider what you typically eat and where your diet may fall short. If you’re a vegetarian, iron supplementation might be crucial. If you don’t eat dairy, calcium might be a must-have. Hate fish? Then look for a product that contains DHA.
If you still feel unsure about which prenatal vitamin is best for you, ask your doctor for a recommendation. I’m trying to eat a very balanced and healthy diet, but I’m still resting easier knowing I’m taking supplements that help my body to keep up with the increased demands of pregnancy. At the end of the day, I just try to be the best home I can possibly be for my baby.